Whether you go mudding for fun or drive through unexpected mud on your route, there’s always a chance of getting stuck. If you’re a mudding enthusiast, that might seem like a fun challenge, but for others, it’s quite stressful. We want you to get where you need to go as quickly and safely as possible.
- Rock It Out of The Mud
When your truck gets stuck, your first thought might be to throw it in reverse and gun it as hard as you can. But this can actually dig a deeper hole, which makes it more difficult to get out. Instead, switch into 4-wheel drive and lock your differential (if you can), and then downshift into low gear quickly. Try to roll forward, then switch quickly between drive and reverse, essentially rocking your truck back and forth. This helps to level the surface of the mud and provide better traction for your tires. Increase the acceleration gradually, rather than putting the pedal to the metal, to help you roll out. If that fails, you will at least have created a better surface for a tow truck to pull you out.
- Don’t Spin Your Wheels
When you accelerate too quickly in a slick rut, you’ll just be spinning your wheels. Don’t allow the wheels to continue to spin, since this doesn’t help you get out, and may even overheat your radiator. Instead, start turning the wheels to the side, to see if the treads on the edges of your tires grip the ground. If you emerge partially from the rut, keep moving forward, applying steady pressure on the gas pedal.
- Increase Traction
- Shift Truck Weight – If your truck has rear-wheel drive, improve traction by adding weight above the rear axle. Either shift items in your truck bed or trunk, or look for heavy items nearby like rocks, large tree limbs, or weighted items from a nearby gas station.
- Add Friction for Tires – Find a flat, dry object to place in front of or behind the tire, depending on which direction you want to go. Wooden planks, flattened boxes, tree branches, rocks, or gravel work well, and you can even try a floor mat from your truck. It’s a good idea to keep tools in your truck bed, like shovels, carpet scraps, or cardboard, for such situations. If needed, use a jack to lift your tires and place dry items underneath.
- Reduce Tire Pressure
If you have a portable air compressor, let some air out of your tires, to about 18-20 psi, to gain more traction. Be sure to use the compressor to re-inflate the tires before you head back on the road, to prevent damage to your wheels. If you don’t have a compressor on hand, only try this if someone can bring you a pump before you hit the pavement.
- Use A Winch
Off-roaders love a good winch, since it can get you out of a real jam. If you happen to own a winch, secure it to your truck and wrap the tow strap around a tree, or use a land anchor if there’s a solid surface nearby. Use a winch that’s rated at 30% or more of the weight of your vehicle. Always hook your winch to the truck frame or a recovery point directly bolted to the frame. Bumpers can easily break off and pose a projectile hazard. Tow straps are also prone to snapping, so drape a heavy item like a coat over the middle of the strap to prevent it from injuring people or property. Always have passengers stand several car lengths away.
6. People Power
With a small rut, sometimes all you need is a good shove from a couple of passengers. This is safer and more effective in drive than in reverse. This method can be quite dangerous, so make sure your helpers are adults who are strong, quick, capable, and have experience pushing a stalled or stuck vehicle. Even if your passengers don’t plan to push, have them hop out of the truck to reduce the weight in the vehicle and improve traction.
- Enlist Other Trucks
If you’re traveling in a group, you might be tempted to have another truck tow you out. If you try this tactic, there are important things to consider. First, limit the recovery vehicles, since the more trucks there are, the more the ground gets torn up. Second, never attach tow straps to the suspension, axle, bumper, or hitch ball, since these can easily break. Use the tow hitch or frame. Once the two trucks are safely connected, the mobile truck should slowly pull forward to remove most of the strap slack, then accelerate gently to pull the stuck truck forward. Keep in mind that this poses several risks:
- Damage to both trucks
- Breakage of the strap
- Both trucks getting stuck
- The stuck truck rolling away if a strap breaks
- Injury to passengers