Car Stuck in Snow? Here’s What to Do in an Emergency…
As the winter season approaches, and holidaymakers set their courses for the snow-capped mountains of the Alps, the issue of safety once again rears its head. Certainly, Courchevel car rentals improve the convenience of a weekend ski trip, but travellers should be well prepared to deal with a driving-related emergency. We’ve compiled this short guide on how to respond if your car gets stuck in snow in an isolated spot.
Before Setting Off
Before you enter into a snowy environment, ensure that your vehicle is prepared for the most treacherous of conditions. If you don’t own one, consider renting a 4×4 to improve your level of safety. On icy roads that are covered with snow, one can never be too careful.
Also, be sure to pack snow chains for your tires. No vehicle should ever venture into the mountains in the winter without this essential piece of equipment. Snow chains – a relatively inexpensive solution – could be the difference between getting stuck and getting out.
Fit the correct winter tires. It is vital that you are driving on suitable wheels. Winter tires are primed for snowy conditions; the tire lug pattern differs dramatically, and they are usually covered with small studs to grip the road.
Load a bag of grit and a snow shovel into the boot, just in case of a real emergency.
Once Stuck in Snow…
The unthinkable has happened. You took a wrong turn and you find yourself stuck in snow in the middle of nowhere. What should you do to free the car?
- Dig Around the Wheels and Turn Off Traction Control
First thing’s first: don’t panic. There are many things you can do to alleviate the stresses of the problem, and this starts with remaining calm and thinking logically. Begin by turning off the vehicle’s traction control. You will need to optimise the grip of all four wheels. Next, take the snow shovel and proceed to dig the snow away from each of the four tires, freeing up space around the car.
- Gently Rock the Vehicle
Once the conditions are primed, get back into the car and prepare to start moving. Begin the engine and gently rock the car, trying first to apply the gas in a start-stop motion. Try to rock forward and backwards to bring about movement. Once you’ve tried going forwards, try the same thing in reverse. If the wheels start to spin, stop immediately. Be sure to keep the steering wheel straight in order to maximise traction.
- Brake and Accelerate
If the vehicle’s wheels do begin to spin, try applying the brake as you accelerate. This should better encourage the tire to grip the ground, as opposed to spinning uncontrollably. Be sure not to attempt this technique for too long, as it can momentarily impact on the effectiveness of your brakes. If possible, attempt to push to assist with the effort.
- Increase Traction
If neither of the previous techniques has any effect, it’s time to increase traction. This is where the grit will come in handy. Generously apply the grit to the path in front and behind of the tires, creating a kind of path. If you do not have grit or sand, use cardboard or another solid substance to construct a gripping board around each wheel. Reduce the air pressure in each tire to increase the point of contact between the car and the road. Try rocking the vehicle to freedom once more.
If none of the above techniques work, it’s time to call for help! Stay warm and stay in the vehicle (if it’s safe to do so).