Drive in the Mud

If you need to drive over a dirt road that has been turned into slippery mud by recent rains, you know it can be easy to get stuck. If you live in hilly country or there's heavy traffic on the road, it can also be dangerous. To avoid getting stuck or rolling your vehicle, you'll need some maneuvering skills. Buckle up!


  1. Drive slow! You are much less likely to slide around if you are taking it easy. Try a lower gear to control your lead foot.
  2. Never stomp on the gas pedal! If you are losing traction, either take your foot off the gas pedal (if you are going downhill) or keep it steady (if you are going uphill). Nothing gets you stuck quicker than gunning the engine, which only makes your tires spin faster and your ruts deeper.
  3. If you have a regular rear wheel drive vehicle (not 4WD, AWD or FWD), put some weight in the back of your vehicle, right over the rear axle (deep in the trunk or pickup bed). Rocks, gravel and firewood are especially good for weight because you can use them if you get stuck.
  4. Drive so your tires ride the high areas of the road, not the ruts. Ruts are wetter, therefore more muddy, slippery, etc.
  5. Do not ride the brakes. If you are going downhill, shift to a lower gear or just go slow!
  6. Do not stomp on the brake pedal to stop. Pump it slowly. This is called cadence braking, it's what your ABS on modern cars does automatically when there is a loss of traction, i.e. wet or icy conditions.
  7. If you start to slide, turn your wheels into the direction of the slide (as you would on ice), and start pumping the brakes. If you can't stop and are heading off the road, turn into the slide and turn the car as gently as possible away from the edge. Sudden turns can turn the car over!
  8. If you get stuck in the mud, put it in park, calm down and get out of the car/van/truck.
    1. Survey the lay of the land and figure out the easiest way out of there.
    2. Grab some rocks, small logs or that gravel in the back, and make a path for your tires getting as close to the tread as possible (focus on the rear tires if you have rear wheel drive) and don't create too much height for them to go over.
    3. Get back in the car and very slowly go forward. If your tires start to spin, try reverse alternately with forward, rocking the car back and forth until your tires hopefully grab.
    4. You might need to try more rocks/sticks again and again.
    5. Lowering tire pressure may help you gain more traction in the mud. Final tire pressure depends on the type and size of your tire and wheel. This should be avoided if you must drive on a road again before being able to add pressure. Lowering the pressure too much may result in poor handling as well as potential tire/wheel damage. Avoid pressure less than 20psi or half of your recommended tire pressure.
  9. Bring your cell phone so you can always call for help as a last resort. If you have no cell phone or phone service, always travel with drinking water and a sleeping bag so you can wait it out.


  • If you frequently drive in the mud, ask your tire dealer to help you find tires with good traction.
  • If you want to improve the traction of your tyres then try letting some air out, this will spread the surface of the tyre in contact with the ground therefore increasing traction. But once back on tarmac ensure you reinflate your tyres to the manufacturers specifications.
  • If you frequently drive in the mud, consider buying an all-wheel-drive vehicle.
  • Try driving gently, or else you could get stuck.
  • If your car is about to fall, always put stuff behind the car (if going uphill) or the front (if going downhill).

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