Jack Dreyer | Wednesday 1st December 2021 2:00pm
One of the biggest annoyances of winter driving is getting your car stuck in the mud. That dreaded sound of your wheels spinning sends your head spinning, too.
Most commonly, your wheels get stuck in the mud on a verge or risky parking spot. It can happen easily, so it’s important to be aware of how you can get out of the situation.
First, let’s start with the things you shouldn’t do – the things that’ll only make matters worse.
What not to do when your car gets stuck
The first thing is to try not to panic. This happens from everyone from time to time, and there’s ultimately always a way out – even if you eventually have to call in reinforcements.
But the most important reason not to panic is because it often means you just keep revving and spinning the wheels. This is a no-go, because doing so usually just digs your wheels deeper into the mud.
Now we’ve got that caveat out the way – let’s get stuck in…
Getting your car out of the mud
Many big events like festivals or fairs use temporary car parks or require you to park up on verges. Rain and bad weather can make these a quagmire for your vehicle.
At other times, simply pulling up at the side of the road can get you stuck in the mud before you know it. That’s winter driving in the UK for you!
But don’t panic – here are the steps you need to take:
1. Assess the situation
Safely get out of your car and take a look at your tyres. Are they only slipping on a small amount of mud? Or have they sunk really deep into the mud?
Unfortunately, if your car has “beached” – in other words, the tyres have sunk and the body of the car is resting on the ground – there’s not a lot you can do yourself. At this point, it’s really important that you call a tow team to avoid any further damage.
If the mud is only shallow, there’s a chance you’ll be able to get your car unstuck.
2. Give yourself room
At this point, ask any passengers to get out to take some of the weight off the vehicle, and have them stand safely aside.
So that your car has room to manoeuvre, gently turn the steering wheel from side to side. That way, the tyres won’t be sitting in single, deep channels.
Now’s the time to see if you can free your car.
3. Try to pull away in a high gear
Put your car in 2nd (or even 3rd) gear to try to pull away. Don’t feel tempted to slam your foot down on the accelerator - slow and steady does the trick.
Gently release the clutch and accelerate very slowly, keeping the front wheels straight at first. If you feel any traction, turn the wheels to the side to try to grip it.
If this doesn’t work, you could try rocking the car back and forth by accelerating and then reversing to rock the car back, using the momentum to push forward. Only try this a few times though, and then reassess – because if there are any signs of the car digging deeper, you need to try something else.
4. Add something to grip onto
At this point, your tyres’ grooves will be filled with mud and they’ve essentially lost all form of grip.
Try to locate any rough materials like planks or even twigs, and put them just in front of your tyres. It’s also a good idea to dig away some mud if you can, so that there’s not a steep incline for your tyres to mount.
As another alternative, pull up your floor mats and put them in front of each tyre. You might ruin a couple of them but it’ll be worth it if they provide the traction needed to get your car unstuck.
As you attempt to drive out, have people push the car if you can.
5. Remove some air from tyres
The last thing you could try is removing a very small amount of air from your tyres. Doing so gives your tyres more surface area, and if you combine this with dry, rough material under each tyre, you’ve got a much better chance of getting unstuck.
No luck? Call in a tow company
If nothing works and you find you’re just getting more stuck in the mud or your car simply isn’t going anywhere, you need to call a tow company.
Or, if you’re lucky enough to know someone with a tractor or big truck, it could be time to call in a favour! Just make sure they pull your car out slowly and use a safe towing point.
Once you’re free, you’ll need to drive slowly at first as the mud works its way off. Look for any damage and check in with your local Kwik Fit if you’d like an expert eye to check things over.
Take a look at our Winter Driving Checklist for a rundown of the essentials you should have in your car to help in situations like this in the cold months.
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