What to do if your car is stuck in snow

Lesson Type
Last updated: 12 Nov 2019

It’s that time of year again – the days are getting shorter and the threat of snow and ice is well on its way. If you’re preparing for your first winter behind the wheel, you’ll want to be prepared for the chill.

Staying safe in the snow

First of all, you need to decide whether or not it’s safe to drive in the weather conditions. Snow and ice can make for very treacherous driving conditions, so look out for any weather warnings in your area and follow Met Office advice on whether or not it’s safe to travel. If you're a learner, your instructor will decide whether or not it's safe enough for any driving lessons planned to go ahead.

When your car might get stuck

Your car might get stuck in the snow if it’s been parked up during a snow storm. Once the weather clears and the roads have been gritted, you’ll probably want to get back out there on the road. Before you can do that, however, you’ll need to dig yourself out.

So, to help you out, we’ve created this step-by-step guide to getting your car out of the snow.

1. Check your exhaust

It’s crucial that you check your exhaust is clear before starting the engine. If you start the engine with the exhaust covered, you put yourself at risk of blocking exhaust emissions.

2. Gather your tools

You should always carry a kit of driving essentials with you during the winter. This kit should include a shovel – for reasons which should now be obvious! If you don’t have a shovel, however, you’ll need to find something which you can use to dig the ice away from your tyres.

3. Get digging

Removing the snow and ice from around your tyres will make it easier to get moving. Break up any ice which has formed around the tyres and make sure there’s no snow blocking the path you want the car to take.

4. Create some traction

If you’re really stuck in, you’ll need to put something in front of you’re tyres to create some traction to get you going. Grit is the best option, but we assume you won’t have tonnes of that lying around, so trying bit of tree branch or old carpeting is also another solution. If you’re really desperate, your car mats should do the trick.

5. Go gentle on the gas

It can be tempting to stick your foot down on the accelerator to power yourself out of the snow, but this can actually get you stuck further in. Put the car into the highest gear possible (probably second gear), and keep your revs low.

As your car starts to move, accelerate gently until your car is clear of the snow.

6. Make sure you’re all clear

If your car’s got stuck in the snow, the chances are that the top of your car will have been covered too. It’s crucial that you get any snow on the top of the car off, as driving with it covered is dangerous and, in some cases, might even be an offence.

Do this before you drive away, as snow could fall away and block yours or other drivers’ views as you start to build up speed or when you brake.

Image via Matlock-Photo.