Stuck in the mud? How to get the car out of a quagmire

With the arrival of autumn a different and, without a doubt, a special atmosphere appears. The mountain is stained in reddish colors and many nature lovers set out on trails and routes to enjoy the fresh environment and the fall of the leaves. But this is also a time of heavy rains that make some roads impassable, mainly due to the accumulation of mud.

You have probably found yourself in a difficult situation in the mud where the wheels of your car spin and from which it seems impossible to get out. Here we leave you some basic techniques to avoid difficulties and to be able to continue driving with your new off-road SUV under the magical atmosphere of autumn.

Let’s start with what you should never do

If we know what mistakes we should under no circumstances make, we have much-gained ground. Getting the car out when it’s stuck in a muddy is not an easy task and acting impulsively can only lead to a worse place.

Speeding, pushing from behind, or climbing on the hood are not going to get us out of trouble.

Contrary to popular belief, stepping on the accelerator is not going to get the traction to pull us out of the well into which we have plunged, but rather it is going to sink us further and complicate the difficult mission. The mud is an aqueous and slippery surface on which our tires slip, delving under the gums to even eventually choke chassis. In this circumstance, we could only call our helpline to get a cable from the crane.

Another common reaction is to push the car from behind or even climb on the hood to put pressure on the front-wheel drive in search of the coveted grip. In the first case, we not only run the risk of ending up soaked in mud, and the second can also be a danger to our integrity, especially if we are on a slope.

trapped mud

Lighten the car to the maximum

When we find ourselves in this difficult situation, we must act wisely, trying to follow a series of steps in their proper order. First of all, it would be very convenient to empty the vehicle of heavy objects (luggage, trailer, spare wheel, discs, manuals, travel guides, etc.) and passengers.

The lighter the car is on the surface, the greater the grip once you find the minimum grip.

What is the problem?

Once empty, we must inspect the environment and find out exactly where the problem is. Depending on our vehicle, the pushing force is exerted from one or the other axis and, therefore, it is convenient to certify which part is more stuck in the mud. The reality is that it is not necessary that all its wheels are trapped to stay locked. The usual thing is that where the traction is where the muddy wheels are.

Logically, we must observe the terrain to be able to set the starting scenario and not find ourselves in the same situation a few meters later. Is the path ahead more stable? Are there any loose stones that can be thrown out and hit us when accelerating?

(Dirty) hands at work!

At this point, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and prepare the ground to go out with ease. It is important that if the front of the vehicle is the one that is stuck, we start there by digging, forming a smooth ramp through which the wheel can run. This fundamentally helps that, if the wheel has been submerged in the mud, it can float without sinking further during acceleration.With the car unloaded, relieve tire pressure and prepare the ground to facilitate acceleration

Likewise, it is advisable to reduce the pressure of the tires a little, because in this way the rolling surface is enlarged, thus achieving greater adherence to the ground. It’s as simple as removing the plastic plug from the tire and gently pressing the spout to deflate them by at least one bar or 14.5 psi. This is a trick that can be equally useful on snow. Remember that later we must re-balance the original pressure at the nearest gas station.

Think like ‘The Last Survivor’ would

Now is the time to pull off your wits and put on your overalls. The goal is to establish stable ground and use tools that make it easier for the wheel to turn and move without skidding.

But how to do it? First, check the immediate area for dull stones, driftwood, and dry brush that we can place right in front of the drive wheels to create gravel terrain that improves grip.

It is important to place objects that stabilize the ground in front of the drive wheels 

But there are other alternatives in case you do not find these resources at your fingertips. One option is to place the car mats almost under the wheels, they offer a lot of grip due to their thickness and their fabric and plastic materials. Another option is to fit the snow chains to alter the friction surface and help it get out of the mud.

There is even – there are truly creative ones – there is the possibility of tying a wooden board to the surface of the rubber so that, every time it turns, it rests on the board allowing it to advance. It is not a bad idea to tie a strap to the front of the car to help pull it once it starts to accelerate.

The expert maneuvers to beat the mud

All ready! We are going to get to the controls and start the vehicle, but not everything is won. The work of the driver here is essential so as not to ruin (or mud) all the work done. What techniques should I use to get the car out?

If the road ahead is not in good condition, we can try turning the steering to accelerate to the side of the terrain. This change in direction allows the wheels to come into contact with a different surface that may be more grippy.

Accelerate smoothly to keep the wheel from skidding by digging under itself. A less orthodox maneuver, but quite effective – depending on in which cases – is to reverse. It is usually used in cases where the vehicle does not achieve the necessary traction to move forward but does to reverse.

Proof achieved! But… don’t stop! Once we have left the conflict zone it is likely that we will continue driving on fairly muddy terrain. It is best to take an alternative path, vary the direction to another place on the line and avoid the accumulation of mud. As soon as you notice an area with a minimum of grip and stability, you can stop and congratulate yours on the success.

The type of tire that responds best in a muddy area

When you gain the tranquility of home, you will probably consider what to do to avoid falling back into the long arms of the mud, and abandoning the passion for the mountains is not an option. Many conventional cars are not mechanically prepared to circulate on these types of surfaces, so the type of tire comes into play .

Of course, SUV models, such as the Toyota C-HR Electric Hybrid, in which the height of the chassis is greater, considerably improve their performance on muddy and unstable terrain. However, the rubber that our wheels use is one of the most determining factors. For these roads we can choose two options:

  1. Some very fine tire that penetrate sufficiently to achieve firm. These models are more recommended in light vehicles, such as passenger cars.
  2. Some wider tires with a large area to reduce localized pressure. These are more suitable for large SUVs with V8 engines – part number 265 / 70-17.

Both specialized tires must use thick rubber studs, wide channels that allow water and mud to move.

And we would not want to say goodbye without concluding with a brief note about pressure. It is important to know that the tire pressure must be adjusted depending on the surface we are driving on. In this way, we can maintain the pressures recommended by the manufacturer on asphalt or a hard track and reduce them a little whenever we are going to climb the mountains or snow.