How to get a car unstuck from snow

What should I do when my car is stuck in snow? Clear the path around your tires, try the rocking method and any other three tips below. Read for more.

HOME GUIDES How to get a car unstuck from snow

Guest Post - Lucas Smith

The cold winter months are approaching, and everyone is busy storing batteries and candles. But what if you need to drive out of your house? It is not uncommon for cars to get stuck in the middle of the snow in winter. If it happens to you, the best bet is to know how to get a car unstuck from snow. Before you call the tow truck and spend money, follow these tips to free your car from snow. 

5 tips to get your car unstuck from the snow 

Clear the path around the tires 

The first step is to attempt to clear the path around your tires. Clearing the track around your tires will help you free a few feet behind and in front of the tires so you can move your car back and forth. This step is even more crucial if you are not using winter tires. Winter tires have tread patterns that help them grip and bite into snow. Their rubber compounds also keep the tires flexible in cold weather. 

As the saying goes, proper preparation prevents poor performance. Just the way you gathered supplies to keep you comfortable during the cold months, you must store handy supplies that will help you clear the path around your tires easily. 

Always keep a snow shovel in your vehicle if you plan to drive in snowy conditions. Instead of trying to dig with your hands and twigs, you will have better luck digging with a snow shovel. Use the shovel to clear a path around the tires. 

Try rocking method 

After dislodging snow from around the tires, the next thing is to attempt to rock your car free of the snow. But before then, clear your exhaust. If your tailpipe is blocked by ice and snow, the exhaust won’t exit through the pipe. Instead, carbon monoxide will filter back into the cabin and fill the vehicle. This can lead to co2 poisoning and can be fatal. As if getting stuck in the snow is not enough, don’t add a trip to the hospital. 

After confirming that your tailpipe is clear of ice and snow, set your wheels straight. Ensure that the front tires are pointed ahead and not in a different direction. Straight wheels put less stress on the tires and require less effort to drive out from the snow. 

Only try the rocking method after clearing the tailpipe and straightening the wheel. 

When you are stuck in the snow, you need momentum to break free. Switch from drive to reverse to dislodge snow around the wheels. Put the car into drive, then reverse and repeat the process until the car is free. 

However, do it carefully to avoid wrecking the transmission. At the peak of each rock, you can apply the brake to keep the car motionless before changing the gear. Alternatively, you can change the gear to neutral for a few seconds before the transition. 

So, it goes like this; after clearing enough room for your car to move and straightening the wheels, you can start rocking it. Drive forward a bit then reverse, all in the tracks you just cleared. Repeat the back-and-forth motion until your car is free. 

Add traction under the tires 

If rocking does not work, the next suitable option is to add traction under the tires. You can use kitty litter, salt, or sand under the tire. You can also turn off traction control or use chains. Rock or table salt will melt the ice under tires, and you can lay another material under the wheels to give them enough grip. 

Be careful not to use antifreeze to melt snow and ice. The reason is that antifreeze is toxic to wild animals, pets, and children, and it can find its way to any of them.  

After adding traction to the tires, don’t floor the gas and attempt to gun your way out. Instead of freeing yourself, you will only dig yourself deeper and damage your tires. Shift to the lowest gear so that the tires can spin slowly. For a manual transmission, shift to a higher gear and control the spin with the clutch. 

Push your car 

You have to understand that some of life’s problems are best shared with friends or strangers in your case. If your vehicle remains stuck after applying all the three tips above, call for help. Simply pushing your car out of the snow can be the solution you need. While they push, gently press the gas to add momentum. Remember not to floor the gas, and make sure to add traction under the tires before your helpers push the car out of the snow. 

Release air from your tires 

The last resort if all fails, is to release air from your tires. Lowering the air pressure in your tires will make them sag. This puts more rubber in contact with the ground that grants more grip. However, you should only deflate your tires till they look slightly flat. The essence is to help them gain more traction and increase the surface area of the tires. 

Do not release air from your tires if you have not cleared the snow from under the tires. When you deflate the tires, it decreases the vehicle’s ground clearance. As a result, releasing too much air will cause extra trouble. 

Fill your tires back immediately when your car is unstuck and don’t drive around on tires with low air pressure. Apart from the snow shovel, it won’t hurt to keep a good compressor in the truck during the winter months. 


Don’t panic or lose your cool if your car becomes stuck in the snow. Don’t slam the break or floor the gas. Relax and use any or the combination of the tips above to free your vehicle. If and when you free your car from the snow, don’t stop immediately, but drive somewhere safe with less snow and stop. Also, don’t go driving like a wild person once unstuck, as you don’t know what else is beyond the pile you just exited. Happy driving!

Visit to know more about the off-road vehicles and products.