Stuck in snow or mud with traction control? Here’s what to do!

Dear Mike,

I hope all is well. I have been watching your youtube channel for a while now and it has been quite informative. I have a question I hope you can help me with.

What do I do if my car becomes stuck in the snow or mud and has traction control? I have heard conflicting advice on whether to turn off traction control or keep it on. What is the best approach in this situation?

Thank you in advance for your advice.

Best regards,

Hey there Aruna,

Thanks for reaching out, and I’m glad to hear you’ve been enjoying my YouTube channel. Winter can definitely be a tough season for driving, especially in Canada, with all the snow and ice and slush and Polar Bears. Okay, maybe not Polar Bears, but you get the picture.

When it comes to getting unstuck from snow or mud with traction control, it really depends on the situation. So let’s take a closer look.

First off, for those of you who may not know, traction control is a system in your car that helps prevent wheel spin by limiting the amount of power sent to the wheels when it detects a loss of traction. It’s designed to keep you safe on slippery roads by keeping your tires from skidding out of control. However, in certain situations where you need maximum traction to get unstuck, traction control can actually work against you.

So, what do you do if your car is stuck in the snow or mud with traction control? Here are two scenarios:

Scenario One: You’re Stuck and Can’t Move Forward

If your tires are spinning and you’re not making any forward progress, the first thing to do is turn off your traction control. Yes, you heard me right, turn it off. Traction control can sometimes mistake spinning tires for a loss of traction, and then it can cut power to the wheels, which is exactly what you don’t want when you’re trying to get unstuck. By turning off traction control, you give your wheels the maximum amount of power to try and get you moving.

But hey, don’t just take my word for it, let me tell you a little story.

One winter, I was driving my old Jeep through a particularly snowy back road in Oakville when I got stuck in a drift. I tried rocking back and forth, but the wheels just kept spinning. I remembered reading an article that said turning off traction control might help in this situation, so I did just that. And voila, after a few tries, I was able to get myself unstuck and back on the road. So there you have it, folks, the power of turning off traction control.

Scenario Two: You’re Moving, But Your Car is Slipping and Sliding

Let’s say you’re already making some forward progress, but your car is still slipping and sliding a bit. In this situation, you probably want to keep traction control on. It’s doing its job of keeping your wheels from spinning out of control and preventing you from sliding off the road. However, you might want to give your tires a little more grip by reducing the amount of power sent to the wheels. You can do that by shifting your car into a higher gear or by lightly pressing the brake pedal. This will help reduce wheel spin and give your tires a better chance of gaining traction.

Remember though, every situation is different, and you have to weigh the pros and cons of turning off traction control. If you’re in a situation where you feel like you’re going to lose control of your car, then it’s probably best to keep traction control on and call for help. After all, there’s no sense in risking your safety or the safety of others. And if you’re really stuck and you just can’t seem to get out, remember that there are professionals out there who can help, like the friendly folks at Urban Automotive.

So there you have it, Aruna, my advice for getting unstuck from snow or mud with traction control. I hope this helps you out and keeps you safe on the roads this winter. And as always, if you’ve got any more questions, feel free to ask. Until next time, stay safe and keep those wheels turning.


Mike Urban