I’m Not Stuck!
(Just momentarily experiencing loss of traction)
You’ve been planning the trip all week. You load your gear up in your 4x4 and hit the road for few days of camping with friends and family. On your way out to your favorite spot, you just can’t resist a little off-roading fun. So you head down a trail, throwing your vehicle into four-wheel drive as soon as you clear the black top. Most of the time, this scenario is no problem. Nothing wrong with a little cruise through the dirt and mud so long as you do it responsibly, right? But push the envelope too far and sooner or later you’re gonna get stuck! Hey, it happens. Now what?
If you get stuck on a rock, stump or log, stop and survey the situation. Often times getting out of the vehicle for a good look will serve you a lot better than continuing to push the accelerator through the floor, digging a three-foot hole in the process. What is the best way to free the vehicle without damaging it? If you’re stuck on an object that can be moved, jack up the vehicle and clear away the obstacle. If you’re stuck on an object that can’t be moved, jack up the vehicle and fill under the tires so that you can drive over the obstacle.
Stuck in a hole or a ditch and still can’t get out? Try letting some of the air out of your tires. Don’t get carried away, only let out about 10 psi and don’t forget to air them up again as soon as you can. Of course, lowering tire pressure also reduces the vehicle’s overall height and therefore the vehicle’s ground clearance. Get out your shovel (you do have one, right?) and start shoveling away the mud, dirt, sand or snow that is blocking your tires. Better yet, get your buddy to do it, you deserve a break! Clear a path in the direction you’ll be traveling, so the tires can get enough traction. Carpet strips, wood, floor mats, brush, rocks, clothing or sleeping bags can be placed as traction aids under the tires in the direction of travel.
If you still can’t get out; no sweat. We’re not done yet. Jack up the vehicle and fill the area under the tires with sand, rocks, logs, brush, packed snow or any combination of these. If the jack sinks into the ground, use piece of wood as a base. By the way, never crawl under a vehicle that is supported by a
jack. You know that. Just be sure to remind your buddy.
Snow chains are not only a benefit in snow and ice, but can work wonders in mud as well. Typically, you’ll fit them on the rear wheels, especially if you’re climbing up a hill or towing. Sometimes it may be
necessary to fit them to the front or to all four wheels. At this point, the more traction the better.
In the end, the best way to get unstuck is probably with a winch or come-along. A winch takes the hard work out of vehicle recovery and let’s admit it, at this point your buddy is getting pretty tired! It also allows a lone vehicle a means of freeing itself. Another vehicle can be used as an anchor, but natural anchors, such as trees, stumps and rocks, are the handiest. When no natural anchors are available, a
spare tire, log or any other similar object that can be partially buried can form an anchor. It may be wise to use several items and group them as a single anchor. Never winch with fewer than five turns of cable
around the winch drum. With fewer turns, the cable may break loose from the drum under heavy load.
Still stuck? Well, sometimes it’s a matter of “if you can’t bet ‘em, join ‘em.” Seems like you just found your newest camping spot. Hope your cooler is well stocked. Time to kick back and enjoy the day. Don’t worry, your 4x4 isn’t going anywhere! Tomorrow’s a brand new day and your buddy can get back to work on it bright and early.