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Almost everyone will get their car stuck in the mud at some point in their lives, and getting a car out of the mud can be frustrating, difficult, and time-consuming. It’s not fun, and people often forgo typical car safety when trying to get out. While it may be tempting to immediately call a tow truck to save you from a tricky situation, you should consider trying a few ways to get out on your own and avoid paying a hefty fee. Here are five steps to follow if your car gets stuck in the mud.

1. Don’t panic

Panicking won’t do you any favors if your car gets stuck in the mud. In most cases, the first thing a person will do is try to get their vehicle unstuck by accelerating due to panic. However, accelerating will only do more harm. Your car won’t be able to gain any traction in the mud and will instead dig deeper into it. So, calm down and think about what you’re going to do next. Napa gives us a few tips.

2. Clear some space

After calming down, you’ll want to clear some space out in the mud. This can be done by moving the tires left and right and/or by getting down and scooping out some of the mud in front of your tires. Doing this may help your car gain a bit of the momentum needed to get out of the mud. 

3. Reduce weight

If any passengers are in the car, go ahead and get them out. Extra weight in the vehicle can cause the car to dig deeper in the mud, especially when all the weight is in the middle. Alternatively, Off-Roading Pro recommends shifting the weight around in the car to have it positioned almost directly over the tires, helping them to gain traction in the mud. 

Once you’ve reduced and/or shifted the weight inside your vehicle, you can try inching forward and then easing off the gas to create a back-and-forth motion. This may help your car gain momentum.

4. Give it some traction

Cars stuck in wet mud after flooding in the town of Piru, near Fillmore, California
Cars stuck in mud after flooding in California | David McNew/Getty Images

If your vehicle has no traction, it’s unlikely you’ll get it out of the mud on your own. Fortunately, you can give your car a bit of traction by placing blankets, towels, or floor mats in front of the tires. You can even try using sticks if you don’t have any of the former in your car. Pay attention to which tires are spinning quickly to know which ones to place items in front of. 

5. Let some air out

Letting some air out of your tires can actually help you get out of this situation. While you don’t want to let too much out, releasing a little bit can increase the tires’ contact with the mud, increasing your chances of gaining traction.

Once you’ve let out a bit of air, it’s time to give the car a bit of gas, but don’t overdo it. Make sure the car is in a low transmission or a higher one for manual vehicles, and slowly drive it forward if possible. Whatever you do, don’t spin the wheels out of frustration or annoyance. That will only make things worse.

If all else fails, call for help

If following the above steps doesn’t work for you, it may be time to consider calling a friend or tow truck. A tow truck will quickly get your car out of the mud, though you may have to pay a rather hefty fee for the service. If you’re lucky, maybe you can flag down a passerby who owns two straps and can safely guide your car out of the mess. 

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