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Planning a beach trip? Here's what to do if your car gets stuck on sand

That shovel will be handy for more than just building sandcastles.
Jun 11th 2018, 3:33 PM 4,143 0

IF YOU HAVE ever taken your vehicle to the beach, you’ll know that sand can be its worst enemy. Not only does sand get everywhere inside the cabin and the boot but it can also get all over your tyres, trapping them and leaving your car stuck.

With the tide rolling in, it’s easy to panic, but don’t stress.

You can call breakdown services at any stage, but if you’re a safe distance from the water and the car doesn’t look too badly stuck, there’s lots you can do yourself to get free and get moving again. Here goes…

1. Put the handbrake on

Firstly, turn your car off and put the handbrake on to avoid the car rolling any further.

2. Dig out the tyres

If you have a shovel in your car, great. Even a kids’ one will do in a pinch. If you can’t find those, use your hands.

You need to dig out the sand around the wheels until you can see the bottom of the tyre. Make a trench in the direction you intend to drive. For example, if you have to reverse, dig behind the tyre and if you have to drive forward, dig in front of the tyre.

3. Create traction

Create some traction for the tyres to work against, so they’re not just spinning against smooth sand. Build up some small rocks, twigs or anything else you can find around your tyres. If you’re stuck, use car mats (groove-side down) or a towel.

If your car is rear-wheel drive, build up traction under the rear wheels, and swap to the front if you use front-wheel drive.

4. Let a little air out of the tyres

You can also let some (not all!) of the air out of the tyres, to create a greater surface area and increase the chances of the tyre getting unstuck.

Remove the caps from the air valves and press the release with any small tool that you can find, letting about half of the air pressure out. If you have a pressure gauge let the air out until the tyres are about 15-18psi.

5. Hit the throttle

As you complete each step on this list, get in the car, start it up and put it in second or third gear if it’s manual, or use the lowest gear if your car is an automatic.

If you have someone with you, get them to push the car at the same time you accelerate. Just tell the pusher to avoid standing behind the tyres as anything you are using for traction can fly out the back if it takes hold.

Push gently on the throttle and gently release the clutch. Slow and steady is the key to helping the tyres get a grip and get your car moving again.

6. If it doubt, call the professionals

If you cannot get free, just remember that the safety of passengers and driver are the most important. Be sure to call a breakdown assistance company and ask for help before it gets too late.

More: 6 sunny weather driving tips for stress-free summer road trips>

More: How does wheel size affect my car and driving?>

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Melanie May


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