The Best Way to Get a Car Out of Mud

To get your car out of mud you need to stop, regain traction, and if all else fails, have your car towed to safety.
Written by Nathan Porceng
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
If your car is stuck in the mud, the first thing you need to do is STOP! Spinning your tires may make the situation worse. To get your car out of the mud you will need to regain traction for your tires. If you can’t, you may need to be towed.
Getting stuck in the mud is frustrating, but it’s not an uncommon experience. If you find yourself stuck in the mud, you must first stop spinning your wheels. Once you take stock of your situation, there are a number of ways you can get your car out of the mud and back on the road where it belongs.
Read on for ways you can free your car if you find yourself in the mud.

Stop and take stock of your situation

Stuck in the mud? The first thing you need to do is STOP! While it may be tempting to gun your engine and try to power your car to freedom, spinning your tires further may make a sticky situation even worse.
Your car is stuck because it has lost traction. Cars are designed to drive on paved roads. Tires can easily grip paved surfaces and propel your car forward. However, when you’re stuck in mud, there’s nothing for your tires to grip. 
Spinning your wheels may just dig them deeper into the mud, complicating recovery, so it’s best to take your foot off the gas pedal as soon as you think you might be stuck.
If you can safely exit your vehicle, do so. Inspect your wheels. Is just one wheel stuck? Are your drive wheels stuck? If your car has sunk so low that the chassis, or body of the vehicle is touching the mud, you will likely need to call for professional help.
Key Takeaway Spinning your wheels can cause you to sink further in your mud and complicate recovery.
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How to get a car out of mud by yourself

Let’s say you're driving down a gorgeous winding backwoods road alone, perhaps on the way to visit a favorite relative or spend a weekend fishing. It rained last night and you spot a massive plot of mud directly in your path. 
Against your better judgment, you try to drive through the mud and soon find yourself stuck. What do you do?
After you stop and take stock of your situation, there are multiple methods you can employ to regain traction and get back on your way.

Dig method

This is probably the simplest method to free your car from mud. Simply dig around your tires, clearing as much dirt, sand, and gravel as you’re able. Hopefully, you can create enough space for your tires to get a grip and propel you free.
The worst thing is to need a shovel and not have one. Be sure to pack a small shovel as part of your car’s emergency kit!

Car mat method

Car mats are an excellent option for regaining traction. They’re handy and cost you no extra time or additional money. 
Simply dig around your tires and place car mats underneath them for traction:
  • If you have a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, place the mats underneath your rear passenger-side tire
  • If you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle, place them underneath your front driver’s-side tire
You should be able to regain traction and drive yourself out of the mud. If you don’t have car mats, you can use an assortment of other objects in their place, including old blankets, pieces of carpet, or a truck liner. 

Shifting weight method

Redistributing weight in your vehicle may also help to free it from mud. Simply take loose objects from your vehicle and your surroundings (the heavier the better) and shift them in your car so that they’re over your drive wheels.
By increasing the downward force exerted on your wheels, you may be able to regain traction and drive away free.

Rocking method

If your car is not completely stuck and can move slightly forward and slightly backward, this method may be for you. All you need to do is rapidly drive a little bit forward, then a little bit backward, rocking your car. The rocking motion may generate enough momentum to expel your car from the mud.
Again, only use this method if you’re not completely stuck. Spinning your wheels may dig your car deeper into the mud and worsen your situation.

Tire pressure method

As a last resort—and only if you have access to a tire pump or compressor—you may try letting some air out of your tires to help free yourself from mud. By lowering your tire pressure, you will increase their surface area and allow them to more easily gain traction.
After you have successfully recovered your vehicle, you must re-inflate your tires. Driving with flat tires is unsafe and may damage your car.
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How to get a car out of mud with a partner

Freeing your car from mud is much easier if you can work with a partner in another vehicle. To use the two-vehicle method, the rescue vehicle should have:
  • Four-wheel-drive
  • A locking differential
  • A snatch strap
  • Appropriate anchor/recovery points
Do not use a tow ball as it may snap and shoot off, creating a potential hazard.
To execute the two-vehicle method, here’s what to do:
  1. Attach the snap strap to the stuck vehicle, and then attach the other end to the rescue vehicle. 
  2. Place the strap damper over the middle of the strap. This will lesson some of the tension if the strap breaks.
  3. Ensure that the drivers of both the stuck and rescue vehicles can communicate with each other
  4. The rescue vehicle should accelerate away from the stuck vehicle. The strap should tighten. 
  5. Once the driver of the stuck vehicle feels the strap pulling their vehicle forward, they should accelerate to match the rescue vehicle’s speed and drive free of the mud. 

Calling roadside assistance

If all of the above methods fail or you don’t possess the requisite tools, you can always call
roadside assistance
for help. There’s no shame in getting professional help—especially since doing so may prevent additional damage to your car and ultimately save you time, frustration, and money.
You may be able to obtain roadside assistance through your insurance provider.
, and
all offer varying levels of roadside assistance to their customers.
also has a well-respected roadside assistance program.

How to find affordable insurance for your car

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Yes. If your policy includes comprehensive coverage it should cover damage incurred from being stuck in the mud.
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