How to Free Your Car from a Snowdrift

Seasonal - Car Stuck in Snow

Much as we hate to admit it, our rear-wheel drive car recently got stuck in a snowdrift. We’re happy to report that it was stuck in our driveway, and not on the road, but it was still a nuisance to free it.

In order to save you the humiliation and embarrassment, we’ve compiled some tips to quickly free yourself from the snowdrift.

  1. Clear the snow off your car, then around and under it
    This may seem obvious, but it’s am important first step. Clear your car first with a telescoping snow brush, then shovel the snow immediately around it. Pay careful attention to the space around the wheels and under the side of the car.
  2. Got rear-wheel drive?  Put some junk in the trunk. 
    Rear-wheel drive vehicles don’t have much weight in back, and you’ll need some heft over the back wheels to give them some traction. We threw a big bag of fertilizer, a rolled-up rug and some logs in back to get our car anchored. Find some heavy things and throw ‘em back there.*Here, we’re assuming you’re not driving an exotic car with a rear-mounted engine. If you have one of those and live in a temperate climate, you probably have five other cars, some of which can be driven in the snow.
  3. Turn off your stability protection.
    Many new cars these days come standard with stability protection. Depending on your vehicle’s make, it might be referred to as ESC (electronic stability control), ESP (electronic stability protection), DSC (dynamic scability control), or some other abbreviation.Under normal driving conditions, stability protection senses when your vehicle is losing control, and it corrects it via throttle and brake response to each wheel, depending which one(s) may have lost control.

    Why is it worth turning it off? When trying to escape a snowdrift, your vehicle needs to be allowed to skid a bit, as well as rock and have the wheels spin. The “electronic nanny’s” intervention might interfere with the rocking and spinning necessary to free you and your vehicle.

  4. Put down some flooring.
    Instead of giving the rear wheels nothing but snow to grip, consider putting your floor mats (up-side down), or some spare old carpet, in front of your driving wheels (front wheels if you have front-wheel drive, rear wheels for rear-wheel drive vehicles). Also, if you have sand or salt, that helps your wheels get traction, so throw it down around your wheels. This may allow them to catch something other than snow and ice for much-needed traction.
  5. Get a hand.
    Get behind the wheel and open your windows so you and those behind the car can hear each other. On the count of three, accelerate your car, ideally while a couple of people are giving you a push, then allow it to rock back a bit. With your stability turned off, you should be able to rock and roll your way right out of there.

Trying to escape a snow drift? Click the top button to turn electronic-stability protection off. Once you’re back on the road, click it again to be sure it’s on.

Once you’re back on the road, don’t forget to turn your stability protection back on again. And remember – drive as slowly as possible. It’s better for you and your vehicle to arrive a bit late an intact than to risk a crash, which is all too easy in inclement weather.

Image credits: Team Openbay