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Winter Tips: A Few Easy Things to do When Your Car is Stuck

Published on February 21, 2022 in Pre-owned vehicles by The Car Guide

Old or new, not all vehicles are created equal and therefore do not have the same winter capabilities. Some have better control systems to avoid skidding and going off the road, others have higher ground clearance to help deal with snowbanks along the way.

Getting stuck can happen to anyone. If you've never experienced this situation, kuddos! But here's what you need to know and do when it happens.

First, you should try to remove as much of the snow or ice lodged under the car and around the wheels. Use your snow broom or, better yet, get the shovel from the winter emergency kit you keep in the trunk. By the way, there are several models of shovels on the market with retractable handles to save space.

Photo: La Presse Canadienne

Then, of course, there are the anti-skid plates (or traction aids") that can be placed in front of the vehicle's drive wheels. They are effective and offer just enough bite to get you out of trouble. Don't have any? Your mats can always help, but they will be good for the trash can after the session!

Now, once you're behind the wheel, don't rush. The experts at CAA-Quebec will tell you that spinning the wheels will only make the problem worse and could be dangerous for the drivetrain. It can even lead to a broken transmission or differential - parts that are usually very expensive to repair. To avoid damage, consult your owner's manual. You'll find helpful tips, such as a guideline for what speed not to exceed when in an oversteer situation.

Photo: Hyundai

Turn off the traction control system (there's usually a button on the dashboard) and shift into the lowest gear. As you slowly begin to accelerate, ask a passenger or bystander to help you by pushing the car to try to dislodge it more easily. Keep your wheels straight and keep going back and forth until you have enough traction to pull out. If that doesn't work, you can try turning your front wheels in a different direction.

Another solution is to spread salt, sand, or even kitty litter in front of your drive wheels. Salt melts ice, while sand or kitty litter improves traction. Otherwise, your last resort is to call a tow truck.

Whatever you do, don't forget to turn the traction control system back on as soon as you get back in your car.

Safe travels!

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