What To Do If You Get Stuck in Snow/Ice

It is very typical to see people stuck in the snow during winter. Either after a significant snowfall or a freezing rain, the surface conditions are very likely to affect how vehicles behave and then, of course, make us lose a lot of time trying to get out of some holes. Without jumping on the Winter Tire or AWD discussion, as it is a wholly separated topic, on the following article I will describe multiple techniques that will help you to deal with it if you get stuck:

Sliding on Snow/Ice

This will probably be the most common situation: You parked, and when you want to go out, your car can't get through. You speed up and speed up and you just continuously dig and dig more.

Be preventive: Before parking, figure out how you will go out. We tend to park making a few movements. First, we go back and then go in a little bit to the front (let's keep it simple). During winter, you should always try to park only backward and maintain space in front of you to use the same movement and inertia to go out. The same way you went in, you are supposed to go out. The more you move, adjust and try to make it "perfect," the more you flatten the snow and polish the ice.

Accelerate out slowly if you "suspect" you may be in a hole: And make of this a habit. For automatic cars, use the "L position," for semi-automatic and manual ones, go with 2nd. The faster the wheel slides, the worst, as it will be creating a perfect hole for you to be stuck into.

Turn the wheel to try different directions: Maybe the hole you dug is aligned with a specific direction, and the only thing you need is to have both wheels pulling into a different one.

If there is room, always try backward first: The more back you can go, the better will be for leaving the parking spot. The inertia you can create by starting from the end will help you drive out of any snowy/icy parking spot.

You are "attached" to the ground

And this is one of the worst situations. You parked, it was wet, the temperature dropped, and a piece of ice perfectly joins one of your tires with the ground. This is hard to get off.

Avoid potholes when it is wet: I've helped many of my neighbors (and they have helped me too) with some pretty lovely potholes on my block. Thing is we all already know where these are, and we just try to avoid them all the time, but when someone new comes around, then we all have to go and help again. Just avoid these.

Avoid corners: When the snow melts, either because of the temperature or because of Salt, it all flows to the corners. Avoid these too.

Just break the ice: Ok, it happened... there is no way to avoid it now. Go and grab a hard metal piece and carefully, without hurting yourself and taking care of the tire, you will have to break it manually. You can add some salt too but don't use water; it will only make things worse in a few minutes.

Your Tires Can't Reach The Ground

Yes, mostly a situation that involves Compact Vehicles. This is really hard to get off, but like the other two previous situations, it all starts when you go in:

Avoid risky spaces if you have low ground clearance: This is tricky. If the snow is soft, you may go through, and if it is plied, you will go above, but it is all a matter of luck as there may be a mix or just a big piece of ice you didn't notice. You have to be careful and able to evaluate if a spot is risky or not for parking.

Before parking, use a shovel to level up: Either taking snow out or putting it in, you can prepare the space for a smooth parking without much effort. I don't mean digging a parking space, that may take way more. I suggest leveling up the parts you think may be risky as potholes or ice hills. If you see it is dangerous... just drive away and look for another one. In most cases, it is better to walk for 5 minutes than use a shovel for 25.

Drive in multiple directions: If your wheels have traction, everything is ok, and you'll be able to go out driving somehow. Change the direction and try to make things work from the wheel. Getting off the car should always be the last option.

Fill the space between your tires and the ground with solid stuff: Even ice rocks. I'm sure you will find a lot around :) Use whatever you have in the trunk, the floor protectors and if you messed it up and it may fit, the spare tire.

In either situation, have a couple of these

Stuck in Snow: EZ-Traxion Plastic Aids

The EZ-Traxion Plastic Aids I got two years ago has been pretty useful for me and many others. You can get these at any Canadian Tire, usually, for around 20-25 dollars. I use to stop when I see someone stuck and fighting to get out. I've been there multiple times, and multiple times unknown people have come to help and push me out of an ice hole.

Just be prepared, the winter is just a season we all have to deal with 4 months a year.

About the author

Jorge Diaz is a passionate car lover, winter driver & Software Engineer. For the last 10 years, he has built Online Solutions used by more than 5,000 companies across the globe. He founded LeaseCosts in 2016 with the purpose of simplifying and helping Canadians to better understand the complex market of car leasing in Canada. You can connect with him at Leantrepreneurship.com.

Jorge is also the author of Car Leasing Done Right: A Canadian Guide for Understanding & Optimizing Vehicle Leasing Costs, released on Nov. 5th, 2021. It is available at Amazon.ca