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Getting Unstuck - Driving on Snow and Ice

Whether you are a seasoned professional, or a rookie, driving on snow and ice is often just plain trouble. Taking precaution on snow and ice by slowing down, increasing following distance, and making extra gentle steering motions go a long way towards preventing problems. But sometimes things don’t go as planned and like it or not you just might end up stuck. If that happens, it is important to remember that there are some things you can do that might get you back on the road quickly and save you from having to pay a tow company.

  • You can sprinkle ice melt, kitty litter or sand in the path of your drive tires. This is a quick solution that often provides just enough traction to get things moving.
  • An electronically controlled air suspension(ECAS) system can help as well. If you have an ECAS or Load Transfer button, press it to engage the system. This will temporarily adjust your suspension to increase the load weight over your drive axles. The increased weight on your drive wheels will give you added traction and a much better chance of freeing yourself.
  • If you are equipped with locking differentials, engage the lock. This will ensure two of your drive wheels turn at the same speed and can help prevent spinning tires that might dig one side in deeper. Just be sure to turn this back off once you are unstuck.
  • Sliding or spinning tires can result in divots or piled snow that might be preventing you from being able to roll forward. If this has happened, the best thing to do is start by simply removing the piled snow. We recommend drivers carry a compact shovel for exactly these types of situations.
  • Breaking up packed snow and ice in front of your tires can help as well. A sturdy compact shovel, small sledgehammer, or crowbar would be good tools to have on hand to try and remove some of the ice and help you gain traction to get rolling.

Most importantly, remember not to spin your tires. Spinning your tires is a quick way to make a bad situation worse. Some transmissions such as the  DT12 used in Freightliner Cascadia trucks have a “creep” mode that you can enable to help keep prevent spinning.

Take a look at this video to learn more about engaging creep mode:

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