Have you ever been stuck in the mud? And no we aren’t referring the children’s playground game, we mean the unfortunate incident of getting your car wheels trapped in the mud. You’re most likely to be caught out after a weekend away at a festival, off-roading, on a winter road trip or other rural events.
For anyone caught bogged down in the mud, we’ve put together a list of handy tips to help you out of your rut.
Firstly, see how deeply the car is submerged. It should be possible to extricate the car from shallow mud with a few clever tricks. But if the car is “beached” where the body of the car is resting on the ground and the wheels are deeply sunk, you may well need to get it towed.
If necessary, ask the passengers to jump out to reduce some of the weight, this will also help as they can get behind and push if the situation permits.
Turn the wheels gently from side to side to make space around the wheel so they aren’t trapped in deep channels. Try to accelerate very slowly to get traction in the mud.
In manual cars try setting off in second gear. Some automatics may also have a special mode for this, sometimes called winter or economy mode. You may also want to turn off traction control systems.
Keep the front wheels straight as possible to set off, and start turning the steering wheel side to side if you get traction. You can also try rocking back and forth by gently accelerating and then reversing so the car rocks back, then using the momentum to push forward again. If you succeed – great, no need for further tips. If however, the car digs deeper, you’ll need to stop the car (and read on).
Hitting the accelerator will cause the wheels to spin, digging the car further into the mud. Apply light pressure to the accelerator to see if you are able to move the car without the wheels spinning. If you start to move successfully continue with gentle pressure on the accelerator, however if you begin to lose control and drift, stop at that point.
If possible, add some rough material to the mud just in front of the wheels to increase their traction. Try leaves or small twigs, or even straw if you can find it. Alternatively, an unwanted blanket, rough cardboard or even a wooden plank can help. Place them just in front of the sunken wheel, and dig out some of the mud for a less steep incline if needed.
In situations where there nothing else is to hand, consider sacrificing the car floor mats. Place one just in front of each front wheel and attempt to drive out as instructed above. Note that this may ruin the car mats completely.
Release a small amount of air from the tyres to increase the surface area. Dig out some of the mud around the tyres and try adding rough material as instructed above. Move as slowly as possible when accelerating to give the tyres a chance to gain traction.
Ask friends or passers-by to give you a handy push. Get them behind the car to help push as you start accelerating, helping to lift you out of the deepest dip. Don’t accelerate too hard or you’ll start the wheels spinning and splatter them with mud. And don’t forget some basic safety precautions – make sure no one is in front of the car or to the sides, in case it lurches forward or sideways.
If all else fails and the car is still stuck in the mud, call a tow company or local farmer to help pull you out. Try to steer the tyres out of the ruts and back up onto firmer ground as you get pulled out. Make sure the towing vehicle keeps up the momentum until you are fully clear of the mud.
Drive slowly at first to remove mud from the tyres and get full traction back. Make sure to check the car over as soon as possible to look for any damage. If you deflated the tyres you must pump these up as soon as possible, otherwise they could endure more damage, resulting in you needing to change your tyre. It is also worth testing the brakes before driving anywhere, to ensure they are working efficiently.
If you’re concerned about damage and want to put your mind at ease, it’s worthwhile having a vehicle health check