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Snow Driving Recovery Techniques

Snow Driving Recovery Techniques

When there's snow on the ground a good 4wd vehicle is the best way to get around. Even then you're not invulnerable though – with enough snow in the wrong place, anything can get stuck. Not to worry, if you do manage to get yourself bogged in the white stuff it's usually possible to get going again before spring comes and it all melts. Here are our top tips for getting yourself out of winter dramas.

If you get stuck in snow, don't try to get moving forward again! It's not going to work and you'll probably just get stuck worse. Change into reverse and try backing out along your tracks. There's a good chance this will get you straight out, and you can try again or look for another way through. If this doesn't work, or if your vehicle has been sitting in fallen snow and a fair depth ahs built up around it, you're going to need to try something else. See if you can rock back and forward by shifting between forward and reverse. If you can manage any movement at all you'll gradually create tracks of flattened snow. When they get long enough you might be able to take a run at it and build up enough momentum to push on out. Still stuck? OK, you need more traction.

There are two ways to generate more traction. You can lower your tyre pressure and increase the size of the contact patch; that will give you a bit more grip, which might be enough to pull you out. However unless you have a compressor to reinflate them once you're clear we don't recommend this except as a last resort. You're better off trying to get something under the tyres. Almost anything gives a better grip than snow, so be creative here. Obviously if you have recovery tracks or sand channels in your recovery kit they'll be ideal. If you don't, or if you need a longer stretch of grip, try flattened cardboard boxes. An old carpet is great if there's one around, or small branches can be used to corduroy in front of your tyres. Obviously salt or grit will be a big help, and if you got stuck on the way back from buying cat litter you can use that too.

If you're still stuck check under the chassis. If the snow reaches the underside of your vehicle it's probably packed down, which means it's taking a lot of the weight. This means your tyres can't grip properly, so you're going to have to dig that snow out. If you carry a folding shovel that will work, but a snow shovel will be a lot quicker. If you get a lot of snow in winter, and you have room in your vehicle, you should carry one. Shift all the snow from underneath then clear tracks for your tyres. Get down to bare ground if you can; that will make it much easier to get going.

As a last resort you might need to get towed or winched out. Towing is usually quicker, but make sure there's a clear – or at least safe – path for the towing vehicle first. It's really easy to end up with you both stuck. Try to pull from directly to the front or rear. Snow may look soft and fluffy, but if you try to pull a vehicle's front end round it'll have the tyres off the rims a lot more easily than you'd expect. While you're being pulled get into third gear (obviously reverse if you're getting pulled out backwards) and gently apply gas to help out a bit.

Getting out of snow can be heavy work, especially if it's deep. It can also be hard on the vehicle, so before you drive on check underneath to make sure nothing has been bent or bashed. Above all, make sure you have the kit you'll need to help you out. If there's a foot of snow on the ground and all you have to help is your windscreen frost scraper you're going to be there for a while. On the other hand, be prepared and follow our tips and you'll be fine.