I don’t know about you… but after being snowed in, I can’t wait to get out of my house. As soon as the weather breaks and the main roads are clear, I make a mad dash for the store so that I can replace all the sugary snacks that have mysteriously vanished during my 3-day winter food fest.
If you’re like me, you might get lucky enough to find a parking spot covered in only three inches of slush. After picking up the necessary staples, you put your bags in the car, hop in and rev her up. But even though the car is in reverse and your snow covered boot is heavy on the gas pedal, the car is not budging! You know the car is on because you can hear the engine roaring. You can feel the vibration of the power in the steering wheel and still… nothing. The slush has swallowed up any hope of traction faster than you swallowed up those sugary snacks.
So what do you do? Do you keep hammering the gas pedal, rocking the car back and forth hoping to bust her free? If you do, you are not alone! I can’t tell you how many cars have come into my auto shop with transmission troubles that began just as innocently. Rocking in the snow, the mud or anywhere slippery heats the transmission fluid up lightning fast. This continual rocking to get unstuck causes a heating and reheating of the internal components of the transmission. When this happens, these parts lose their strength. This extreme heat breaks down the vital lubrication that transmission fluid provides and eventually leads to transmission failure. In other words… spinning your wheels will get you nowhere fast.
Here are some tips to keep you from doing damage to your transmission if you find yourself in a slippery situation:
1. DON’T FREAK OUT! Easier said than done, I know. But staying calm will help you with Tip #2.
2. Don’t spin your wheels. Pumping the gas and digging your car deeper into the slush/mud can harm your transmission, your tires and potentially your designer shoes! So go easy on that gas pedal.
3. Go Slow and Low – With the shifter in the lowest gear, try to move the car slowly then stop. Shift to reverse and try moving slowly again. Repeat this a few times SLOWLY to see if you get some traction.
4. With the car still low and slow, try turning the wheel as you back up or move forward. This shift in wheel direction might give you the grip you need.
5. Be prepared! Always keep a bag of sand or kitty litter and a small shovel in your trunk during the winter months. You can make a sand castle, help a stray cat maintain some modesty and get some traction under your wheels!
6. Floor It – Not like that – take your floor mat and put it upside down in front of the power wheel to create some traction. Cardboard, branches or other loose debris on the ground can also act as tire traction. Heck, even the ugly sweater your mother knitted you might work!
Important Note: If you have someone helping you dig the car out, make sure they are NOT behind the car when you attempt to free it. As soon as you get traction, the car will be mobile and anyone standing behind it could get seriously hurt. Better to have them intact to help you unload those groceries when you get home!
For more tips, tricks and insider information go to http://www.womenautoknow.com. Membership is always free for Women and Drivers!