Getting stuck is an omnipresent risk during the winter, especially when you’re dealing with the kind of snowfall Calgary has experienced so far this year. If you’re going to brave snow-covered roads, you should have a game plan when it comes to getting yourself unstuck, just in case the unexpected happens while you’re out driving.
Car Insurance Calgary: The Importance of Snow Tires
Snow tires do more than just often qualify you for more affordable car insurance in Calgary; they also provide invaluable traction during slippery weather. Snow tires have special tread patterns that allow them to dig more deeply into snow and slush, ejecting these materials from your path more efficiently and helping you maintain better contact with the road surface.
All-season tires just don’t offer the same benefits, particularly in Alberta winter weather. Experts strongly recommend that you put snow tires on all four wheels, not just your front or rear wheels, and remove them once snow is no longer a daily threat.
Car Insurance Calgary: What to Do if You’re Stuck in the Snow
If you’ve become immobilized due to heavy snow, follow these steps to get yourself moving again:
- Check your tailpipe for blockage. If snow is clogging your tailpipes, get rid of it. Otherwise, deadly fumes could seep back into the car while you’re idling.
- Use a trowel or shovel to clear accumulated snow, slush and ice away from your wheels. (On this note, it’s a good idea to keep such a tool in your trunk during the winter for just such an occasion.)
- Focus on getting traction to both of your vehicle’s drive wheels. The main reason most people get stuck is that only one drive wheel is maintaining contact with the road surface, while the other one is slipping.
- Use your brakes. If your drive wheels are generating uneven torque levels because one has traction and the other doesn’t, try applying the brakes. This will even out the torque distribution and help you get moving.
If these front-line tips don’t get you moving, you’ll need to take more aggressive action. First, try spreading salt or sand in front of and around your drive wheels. If you have it and you’re in a pinch, kitty litter will suffice. Lacking these, you can also stick your floor mats underneath your drive wheels to allow them to gain traction, though you’re going to need to get new mats if you’re forced into this situation.
To gain traction:
- Straighten out your drive wheels
- Drop down to low gear
- Accelerate until the wheels slip, then ease off to let the car rock backwards
- Repeat until you gain traction
- Let a little bit of air out of your tires if you still can’t get moving, and repeat these steps
Of course, you should always carry a fully charged cell phone when you drive during the winter, just in case you can’t get yourself unstuck and need to call a tow truck.
Car Insurance Calgary: Don’t Get Stuck in the Mud
Of course, we also get Chinooks from time to time during the winter, which can lead to rapidly melting snow and mud. Here’s what you should do if you encounter muddy driving conditions:
- Reduce your speed
- Avoid rapid acceleration
- Move as far as you can towards the centre of the road, where the surface curves to its apex
- Avoid braking unless absolutely necessary
- If/when you do brake, pump the brakes rather than apply them continuously
If you start to slide in the mud despite your best efforts, orient your wheels in the direction you want to go, then start pumping your brakes. Again, it’s a good idea to carry a cell phone when you’re driving in case you get stuck and need help.
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