by Doris Donnerman
(last updated May 25, 2010)
Cars drive great on roads, but not so great when the roads become covered with snow or mud. Snow and mud reduce the amount of traction your car's tires have. Reduce the traction far enough and you won't move anywhere.
If your car gets bogged down in snow or mud, it doesn't do any good to accelerate in an effort to move. Traction doesn't depend on the speed of the tires. In fact, traction can be reduced by rapidly spinning wheels, which tend to slide even easier on the snow or mud.
You can try a few things. First, move the tires ever so slowly. The slow movement won't cause the tire to slip and should provide the traction you need to move. If you are driving a car with an automatic transmission, try putting the car into the lowest gear possible and giving just a bit of gas to barely move the wheels. If you are driving a car with a manual transmission, put the car into a higher gear and barely let out the clutch to move the car ever so slowly.
Second, remember that the car isn't moving because it doesn't have any traction. Try to dig out a bit of the snow or mud from in front of the power wheels (the ones that actually turn when you step on the gas). Then, wedge a car mat, blanket, or old coat under the leading edge of the wheel. Inch the car forward until the tires "grip" on the item, and then slowly drive the car out of the snow or mud.
Because traction is such an essential part of driving successfully, many people in cold climates carry in their trunks a few items that are helpful in snow. These items include a small shovel so they can remove the snow or mud from the front of the tires and some rock salt, cat-box litter, or sand that they can put in front of the tires to help provide the needed traction. I personally prefer cat-box litter or sand because they won't corrode metal. If you choose to use cat-box litter, make sure that you get the kind that stays hard even when wet. (Some cat-box litters become pasty or muddy when they get wet and are of little help in snow or mud.)
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