Sometimes mud is unavoidable. Whether you’re parked at an unpaved lot at a jobsite or pulling off the pavement to inspect a roadway, bridge or other work, odds are that at some point you’ll have to navigate some mud and muck. Below are pointers for getting a vehicle out of the mud.
Rock It Out
If the vehicle has four-wheel drive, lock it in. Put the vehicle in reverse with wheels straight, and gradually accelerate. If this is not enough to get the vehicle to solid ground, shift into low gear, and slowly power forward as much as you can. If the tires spin, turn them from side to side in an effort to get the edge of the tread to grip the surface. Repeat this back-and-forth process as long as you continue to make progress.
Place dry, solid objects such as floor mats, rocks, limbs or boards beneath the edge of the tire in the direction you want to drive. Reduce the amount of air pressure in the tires. Offroaders.com recommends dropping the pressure to between 15 and 20 pounds per square inch. If the vehicle is resting on the undercarriage, use a jack to lift the tires off the ground — if the jack can sit on a solid surface. Never crawl under the vehicle while it is jacked up. Once you lift it even a few inches, you can slide a solid item beneath the tires to provide lift and traction.
Winch It Out
If you have to drive through mud on a regular basis, it is wise to outfit your vehicle with a winch. You can also use a come-along or a hi-lift jack to pull a vehicle free, provided there is a tree or other solid object close enough to wrap a recovery strap around. Check all of the hooks and eyes attached to your draw cable and use good judgment about the size of the tree or other anchor points you will need. If you are using a winch, place a blanket over the center point of the steel cables. In the event the cable snaps, the weight of the blanket should keep the cable from whipping into the air, possibly injuring you or damaging the vehicle. Loop the winch cable or recovery strap around the solid object, and use the power winch, come-along or jack to slowly pull the vehicle out of the mud. Never stand next to the winch cable or any of the fittings when the winch begins to draw tight.
Pull It Out
If another vehicle is available, the best and quickest way to get a vehicle out the mud is to pull it out. Attach a webbed recovery strap or chain to the tow hitches, frame-mounted tow hooks or the frames of both vehicles, as long as you can get to them without putting tension on less solid parts of the vehicles. Straps are best for pulling, but if you must use chains, inspect them to ensure that they are in good condition. Never attach a strap to a bumper, axles, suspension or the hitch ball as these parts are easily damaged. Put the stuck vehicle in gear. The mobile vehicle should very slowly pull most of the slack from the strap or chain and continue to accelerate gradually. The driver of the stuck vehicle should apply gradual pressure to the gas pedal as the vehicle begins to move. Bystanders should stay two to three car lengths away from the vehicles involved to ensure their safety in the event the strap or chain breaks or one of the vehicles begins to slide.