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Woodstock Magazine

Tips for Driving Safely During Mud Season

Apr 20, 2018 08:31PM ● Published by Linda Ditch

Mud season … That’s the price we pay in Woodstock when we’re aching to transition from a cold, snowy winter to a mild, blooming spring. However, just as snow and ice can make for tricky navigation on our area roads, so can mud. Perhaps your problems start right at home in your unpaved driveway.

I recently drove around the back roads of Woodstock in a new Buick Regal TourX, which the car company graciously allowed me to try out for a few days. Wanting to see all the beautiful views in the area, I ventured up Hartland Hill Road and traveled to see the covered bridges in Quechee, Taftsville, and Woodstock. I drove past I drove past Billings Farm and through Woodstock Village.

The journey took me on many muddy dirt roads. I was lucky the mud wasn’t deep. The AWD of the car handled the slick conditions, but I could see how tricky it might be on a rainy day. So, what should you do if you get stuck in the mud, have trouble getting up a hill, or slide off the road?

Here are a few tips:

  • Stay away from deep mud. Unless you’re in a vehicle equipped for off-road driving, don’t venture onto a road with mud deeper than two inches. 
  • Slow and steady will get you through. Much like driving in snow, you want to keep your speed slow but steady. Don’t try to zoom through mud, or you might find yourself off the road and heading for a tree. Also, keep your wheels straight for as long as you can. Turning the wheels will reduce traction and slow you down, leading to your getting stuck.
  • Wheee! If you skid, use the same techniques you would in snow. Don’t hit the brakes! Just ease up on the gas pedal and turn into the spin to try and straighten your wheels.
  • Stuck in mud? Sometimes, in spite of all your efforts, you get stuck. First, try turning your wheels slightly back and forth (only about an eighth of an inch) to see if that helps. If not, then stop so you don’t dig yourself in deeper. Next, try backing up straight on the track you just made to see if you can get any traction. If neither works, you can tuck your floor mats under your wheels as far as you can to get the grip you need to get going again. (Of course, your floor mats will never be the same again.)
  • Give your car a bath. Mud on a vehicle can cause rust. And if you have mud caked on the underside, be sure to wash it off as well to keep the mechanical systems working properly.

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