How to get a car unstuck from mud

On the Road 3 min read

Getting stuck in the mud can be frustrating when you don’t know what to do to get unstuck. The mud is slippery, which doesn’t allow your wheels to gain the traction they need to move the vehicle forward. Follow these six steps to learn how to get unstuck from mud.

Steps to get your car out of the mud

1. Evaluate the terrain

Get out of the vehicle and assess the situation. You want to see how deep the mud is, how far the tires are sunk into it, and if more solid ground is nearby. Check to make sure the car is really stuck. It may simply need a good push to get it back on the pavement.

2. Gather your tools

Once you’ve assessed the situation and determined that you’re really stuck, open the trunk and evaluate the materials you have at your disposal. It would be great if you had a shovel, strong rope, cat litter, pieces of wood, cardboard, or even a rubber floor mat from your car.

3. Clear the area

Clear debris around the tires and near the vehicle. If you have a shovel, remove as much mud from around the tires as you can. Ensure that the path ahead of the vehicle has no obstructions and that any people around are standing clear.

4. Create traction

You need to create traction to counteract the slipperiness of the mud. Continuing to spin your wheels will likely get you stuck deeper in the mud, and it could damage your vehicle. If you have sand or cat litter, spread it around the tires to give them something to grip. If you have a wooden board or piece of cardboard, place them under the front of the tire so that as the vehicle accelerates forward, it will roll onto the solid surface and out of the mud. Other items that can help increase traction include a piece of carpet, a car floor mat, a blanket, a jacket, or branches and leaves spread on the ground in front of the stuck tires.

Another option for increasing the traction in your tires is to let some of the air out of your tires. Deflating the tires a bit increases their surface area and allows them to get better traction. Remember to reinflate the tires before you drive away.

Rocking the vehicle forward and backward can also increase traction. Ensure the front wheels are pointing straight and the vehicle is in its lowest gear. For a stick shift, put the car in the second or third gear to release the clutch. Next, rock the vehicle by accelerating forward and backward to generate enough momentum to get it unstuck from the mud. Accelerate very gently to avoid spinning your wheels and worsening the problem.

5. Use a tow rope or a tow strap with another car

If you have a tow strap or rope in your car’s emergency kit, you can use it to pull your car out of the mud. You also need another vehicle whose driver is willing to pull you out. Attach the hook on the tow strap to the back end of the towing vehicle and attach the other end of the strap to your vehicle’s towing hook. Put the vehicle being towed in first gear and release the emergency brake. The towing vehicle should proceed slowly and steadily as it pulls the stuck vehicle out of the mud.

6. Call for help

If you’ve tried everything and the vehicle won’t budge, it’s time to call and ask for help. Depending on where you find yourself stranded, you can call roadside assistance. Other options include calling a local towing service to pull you out of the mud.

How to get a car out of mud in a front-wheel drive vehicle

When your front-wheel drive vehicle is stuck in the mud, you’ll focus on the front wheels, as that is where the engine delivers the power that pulls the car forward. According to Off-roading Pro, shifting extra weight over the drive wheels, in this case, the front wheels, increases the “downward force exerted on your wheels.” That downward force could help generate enough power to roll the tires out of the mud.

How to get a car unstuck by yourself

Getting stuck in the mud can be intimidating when you’re alone with no one around to help you. Creating traction doesn’t always require the help of another person — use what you have like cat litter, a car floor mat, or a blanket to give your tires something to grip. Then drive forward slowly until the wheels are back on solid ground.

Tips for being prepared for roadside emergencies

When you take road trips, it’s essential to stock the supplies you may need if you run into trouble. Keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle will ensure you have prepared yourself for the unexpected. Adding extra supplies such as a bag of cat litter, towing rope or chains, and a shovel will ensure that you have the supplies you need to get out of the mud or help another stranded motorist.

Prevention, they say, is the best medicine, so check the weather and road conditions before you head out and be cautious about where you drive. Some of the same tactics that work to get a car unstuck from deep mud also work when a car is stuck in the snow.

Was this article helpful?

4 min
3 min
3 min
3 min
3 min