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Snow Ruts: Winter's Most Annoying Driving Hazard

Ruts are a common winter annoyance.  When drivers get stuck on snowy roads, their wheels spin deep down into the snow pack, leaving the streets scattered with deep divots for the rest of us to navigate around.

You’re likely to find ruts on less-traveled roads or side streets – especially near hills and curves, where drivers are more likely to get stuck. In some areas, ruts aren’t going anywhere until the next thaw. So until then, we all have to learn to live with them.

How to drive on rutted roads

Snow tires can make a big difference when driving in poor road conditions. But even if you don’t have snow tires, there are a few things you can do to outsmart the ruts.

First things first: Completely brush off all your windows and mirrors so you have a clear view of the road. (These 14 hacks to deal with snow and ice on your car can help.) When you can see the ruts, you can more effectively steer around them.

Avoid driving through a rut if you can. A hard bump can shock your car’s suspension and cause potentially pricey damage. If there’s no way around it, drive carefully through it with your foot firm and steady on the gas– slow enough to maintain control, but fast enough that you won’t get stuck.

What should I do if my car gets stuck in the snow?

Resist the urge to step on the gas and spin your wheels. That could put you in an even deeper rut by piling snow and ice around your tires.

The best thing to do is steadily rock your vehicle from front to back. This helps your car build momentum gently to get up and out of the divots. Try carefully switching from drive to reverse. This helps you inch out of the rut by dislodging snow around your tires and creating a clear path to drive out.

Still stuck? Try these 3 quick tricks:

  • Dig out. Use a shovel to clear the snow away from your wheels, as well as any high-piled snow that’s tightly lodged underneath your car.
  • Increase traction. Sprinkle some salt, sand or kitty litter around your tires to get a better grip. (In a pinch, a sturdy floor mat can also do the trick.)
  • Find a friend.  No surprise here: Having someone to give your car a push can be a lifesaver. (Just make sure to pay the favor forward the next time you see someone stuck in a snow drift.)

Hopefully, you’ll be back on the road quickly. But if you’re not, you’ll be glad you have auto insurance with optional Road Service coverage* from Erie Insurance. For around five dollars a vehicle, you can add it to your current Erie Insurance auto policy. Find an ERIE agent in your neighborhood to get a free quote..

*Road Service coverage is only available when comprehensive coverage has been purchased on the vehicle. 

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.