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Holding Icon How to Get Out of Deep Snow

How to Get Out of Deep Snow

SAS survival expert, John 'Lofty' Wiseman

At some point most drivers will find themselves stuck in the snow, either on the road whilst attempting to reach their destination or when they find they are unable to get off their driveway.

Should you find yourself in this situation:

  • Restore Grip
    Break-up and remove the snow and ice immediately surrounding the wheels. If you have a shovel, you can dig it out. If you don't have one, improvise - a screwdriver from a toolkit can be used break up the ice that's formed beneath tyres, whilst a map book can be used to scrape away excess snow.
  • Direction Of Travel
    Then remove loose snow in the direction the car is about to move - ensuring that it isn't higher than the ground clearance of the car.
  • Low Gear
    When moving the car, use as low a gear as possible and keep the front wheels straight to minimise resistance.
  • The Rougher The Better
    The rougher the surface, the greater the traction. So, if your wheels start to spin - stop and use what is available to you to increase traction. Specially designed products that you may be carrying, such as snow chains or snow socks come into their own in these situations but if you haven't got these...
    • Pieces of sacking are a good substitute or you could use car floor mats or a coat (though be aware they may need to be replaced afterwards). In a pinch, you can pull branches off trees or bushes at the roadside and lay them down for traction.
    • Place whatever you are using in front of the front tyres on a front wheel drive car and the rear tyres on a rear wheel drive car before proceeding.
    • If this doesn't work you can try sprinkling salt, sand, or even cat litter (if the cat doesn't mind) in front of the tyres. The salt will help to melt ice, whilst the sand and cat litter will provide traction. Also, if you have spare screenwash with a low freezing point in your car, that can be used to help melt the snow/ice.
  • Accelerate GentlyMaking sure nobody is standing behind the tyres. Sometimes the wheels can turn whatever you put down for traction into an airborne hazard.
  • Stay On Familiar GroundOnce you have freed the car, if you are uncertain whether the route ahead is blocked go back rather than risk the unknown. Go forward on foot first if necessary to determine the depth of the snow and whether it is safe to continue.

Survival Tip

Remember traction is needed at the front wheels if your car is front wheel drive car and the rear wheels if it is rear wheel drive in order to make progress.(Lofty)

Winter Survival Guide

Download the complete guide

Winter Survival Guide cover


Amid falling temperatures and rising levels of concern among drivers, Halfords Autocentres has worked with renowned survival expert, former SAS Sergeant Major and author of the best-selling SAS Survival Handbook John 'Lofty' Wiseman to create the ultimate Motoring Survival Guide.

Download the complete guide or read on for more winter survival advice.