The dos and don'ts to getting your car out from under the ice and snow
While many parts of the USA enjoy moderate weather throughout the year, there are a number of places where snow is a common sight. For novice motorists and experts alike, it can be a huge pain when your car is stuck in the snow. This is not just a problem for those who inadvertently drive into a snowbank, though. Leave your car in the driveway overnight and you may wake up to a nasty surprise. However, you need not be helpless when your car gets stuck in deep snow. There are steps you can take to remedy the situation, or even avoid it altogether.
If you are already past the point of prevention - in other words, when your car is already stuck in snow and ice - there are a few steps you should take before resorting to calling for help. If you don't want to become just another car-stuck-in-snow meme, here's what to do:
If you think your situation is so dire that you need expert assistance, you can contact a towing service. How much they charge you will depend on your specific needs. You will likely be charged between $50 - $300. If you're just stuck in a ditch or snowed in, the low end of the spectrum is more likely, but if you are far off the road or have a damaged vehicle, the charges will be higher. If your battery has simply died from the cold and all you need is a jump start, either try to flag down passing drivers or call an Uber. The latter is a cheaper solution than calling a tow truck.
Just as there are a few helpful ideas for when you get your car stuck in snow, there are quite a few things you should avoid doing, too. If you're not careful, your efforts to get out could have the opposite effect. Here are a few things to keep in mind when your car is stuck in ice or snow:
Just because you have been provided with a number of tricks for how to get a car stuck in ice back out on the road, that doesn't mean you should tempt fate. The best way to overcome unpleasant conditions is to avoid them altogether. Here a few tips to keep your vehicle safe on those long, cold winter nights:
If you expect to face harsh winter conditions while driving, there are certain tools you should ensure are always close at hand. These include:
So long as you keep your wits about you, it is safe. However, the usual rules of the road change a little in lieu of common sense, meaning: maintaining a larger gap between cars, drive slower, allow momentum to taper off naturally rather than applying brakes, and always keep your headlights on.
Most of the cars in the US in 2021 that are recommended for driving in the snow are equipped with all-wheel-drive. However, four-wheel-drive is just as handy. Extra grip and control are always favorable when dealing with slippery road conditions. Additionally, many of these vehicles have hill start assist or descent control, which is especially helpful when you find your car stuck in snow on a hill, where losing traction can be extremely hazardous.
Simply put, yes. Snow can cause damage to your vehicle if left for an extended period of time. Excessive cold reduces battery charge, and a frozen battery may die completely. If you let the snow build up too much, the weight might warp the sheet metal. Snow can damage your brake pads, too, causing brake fluid leaks and rust. Aside from this triple threat, the longer you leave your car in the snow, the harder it will be to eventually fish it out, and you may find that your car tires are stuck in solid ice after several thawing and refreezing incidents.
If your car is stuck on an ice patch, use an ice pick or even a tire iron to break up any thick layers of ice. If you have tire chains, attach them to improve traction. Additionally, you could spread salt or even dirt from the side of the road around the wheels. If none of this helps, try to organize a tow.