The majority of us have experienced our first winter snowstorm recently. There were surely some good memories the morning after, especially for those who had to dig their car out of a snowbank created by a pitiless snowplow.
The first reflex one has after having realized that the car is stuck, is to seek help from a good samaritan. This is in the city of course, but what if you’re in the country area, or it’s late at night? First and foremost, you should be well-equipped! Make sure to have a shovel stored in your trunk, along with salt and/or traction aids to be ready for a bad situation. Then again, you can also try the last recommendation on our list. Either way, these tips and tricks will help you enjoy winter, if such a thing is possible.
Often, the reason your car is stuck in the snow is due to insufficient ground clearance. In other words, it’s not high enough. The snow accumulates under the car and raises it a few millimetres, which in turn reduces tire traction. In other cases, there is simply too much snow accumulated in front of your vehicle, and there isn’t enough power for you to get out of there.
In this particular situation a shovel is your best friend. On sale at most superstores like Home Depot or Canadian Tire, a compact shovel fits well in the trunk of a car, and becomes an indispensable tool the day after a snowstorm. It allows you to remove the excess snow both in front of and beneath the car. The snow build-up is preventing you from leaving your parking space or getting yourself back on track after going off the road.
Sometimes it’s not the snow that prevents you from moving forward, but the ice. If your tires are on ice, the best solution is salt. By dropping salt around each tire, it helps to melt the ice, allowing your tires to regain traction. Overall, salt and a shovel will allow you to extract your car from most sticky winter situations.
Traction aids are very useful if you do not have a shovel, and find yourself stuck in the snow or on the ice. To use the traction aids, place the side with the so-called “teeth” against the snow or ice, in front of your front tires (if you have a front-wheel drive), or your rear tires (for a rear-wheel drive), with the “metal tongue” stuck to the tires. Then, get back in the car and move slowly until your tires are fully on the device. Driving away from such a situation can be breeze.
Come and go
Even if you don’t have the tools listed above, it’s still possible for you to get your car out of a bad situation without having to ask for someone’s help. The back-and-forth technique may be used with a manual or automatic transmission, and it’s best to turn off the traction control system (if applicable) beforehand.
The technique is very simple. With an automatic transmission, move the gearshift into the Drive (D) position and move forward as much as you can, until the car can no longer advance. Then choose the Reverse (R) position and let the car move backwards until you feel the car can go further. Immediately return back to the D position and repeat the same process. After performing this maneuver a few times, you should have enough momentum to get the car out of the snowbank.
Unfortunately, winter isn’t quite over. We should get used to the snow, the ice and the cold weather. Based on our list, we hope that you will be able to reduce the inconveniences related to winter driving.