How To Dig A Car Out Of Snow Using A Snow Shovel

Digging the car out of the snow using a snow shovel might sound easier that it really is. Instead of wasting time and pushing yourself to exhaustion trying to get the car free from that show pile, consider these tips for using your snow shovel properly.

Reducing Your Shoveling Workload

Rather than exerting extra effort to dig the car out of snow, the best thing that you can do right now is to start the car with both heat and defroster on high. The next thing you want to do is make sure the area around the tailpipe is free of snow so the carbon monoxide doesn't fill up your vehicle. As the windows begin to defrost, start shoveling a path along one side of your vehicle so you can move from the front to the back. Once you create the path, make a similar one on the other side of the vehicle too.

Once you have the paths clear, clear a small area behind the vehicle to back up a foot or two. This little area of clearance behind the car will come in very handy when you are ready to drive out of the snow bank.

Cleaning Just Enough Snow

Now that you have a small area of snow cleared behind your vehicle, we need to focus on getting to all four tires. From the back of the car, shovel a clearing so the tires can roll back to that opening you made. Make your way along your path and clear the snow between the left tires and then the right tires so the rear tires can roll forward more easily.

Once you get to the front of the vehicle, the goal here is creating a path from the tire to the open road. The snow in between the tire path does not have to be shoveled to the road surface, just low enough the car can push through it without slowing down the momentum. Once the car begins to move forward it will act like a plow and blow right through that center divide of snow.

Help Gaining Traction

Now before you try to get the car out of the snow using a shovel, this video will show you how to do so easily:

Giving the tires a little extra gripping action will go a long way. If the car is parked in front of your home, you may have access to some kitty litter or rock salt. Sprinkle it in front and behind all the tires, unless you know which tires actually rotate when you press the gas, otherwise put it down all around the surface near each tire.

Traction is key in the snow and ice, and these products can give the tire just enough bite to help it pull itself out of trouble. If you are stranded away from home and don't have these emergency items in your trunk, the only thing you have to hope for is momentum from the weight of your vehicle to pull you free.

Using Momentum to Break Free

Now that you have cleared away all the snow with a shovel, it is time to try and move your car out of the pile and onto the road. That area of snow dug behind the car is key for moving the vehicle with momentum, so put the car in reverse and slowly allow the car to ease back a foot or two. Once the car does break free and moves back, the trick here is shifting into drive as quickly and safely as you can to shift the momentum forward.

Don't slam down the gas pedal, you need to gently press on the accelerator while your tires are able to grab with the road surface or the product you sprinkled in front and behind the tires. If you feel a jerking movement as the car begins rolling forward, keep adding pressure to the gas pedal as the car begins to muscle through the snow bank in front of the car. Follow the tire track paths you dug and eventually the car will break free and you will be out on the cleared roadway.


Now that you know how to dig out your car from that snow pile, keep some kitty litter and your show shovel in the trunk just in case you get snowed in while away from the safety of your home. It takes some patience to move the car by gently pressing the gas, just remember less is more in this instance.

Check out our ​articles on how to clear out your driveway and ​some tips on preventing snow sticking to your shovel.

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