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How to Free a Car Stuck on Ice or Snow

by Contributor

Drivers living in snowy regions quickly become pros at maneuvering cars through deep snow. The rest of us may need a little help freeing a car that gets stuck in snow. Try these maneuvers, one at a time.

Put the transmission into four-wheel drive (if your car has it).

Shift into the lowest gear available.

If the car won't go forward, put it into reverse and try backing up.

Turn the steering wheel slightly and try driving in a different direction.

Grab your shovel and remove as much snow as you can from in front of all the wheels.

Determine which wheel(s) are slipping by having a friend look at the wheels while you step on the accelerator. Place sand, salt, dirt, cat litter or a piece of old carpet in front of the slipping wheel(s).

Ask friends or passersby to push while you slowly depress the gas pedal. Make sure nobody is standing in front of the car. Be careful--accelerating too much makes the tires spin and heats up the snow underneath, turning it into ice.

Be prepared to steer and brake after your wheels gain traction.


  • Establish clear signals between the people pushing the car and the driver to avoid dangerous misunderstandings. You don't want to accidently hit someone.

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