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Here’s What to Do If Your Vehicle is Stuck in Sand

“The Webb Ellis Cup completes visit to Dubai as part of Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour” by landrovermena is licensed under CC BY 2.0

At some point in your off-roading or overlanding adventures, there’s a good possibility that you’re going to get stuck.

Try as we might, sometimes our best efforts, our top-notch driving skills, and our bevy of tools simply won’t keep us from getting bogged down.

The key, of course, is knowing what to do if your vehicle is stuck in sand. This is precisely what we’ll discuss in today’s article!

First Things First – Check the Tire Pressure

First Things First - Check the Tire Pressure

Photo by YULIIA LAKEIENKO via iStock

Hopefully you remembered to air down your tires before you hit the sand, but if you forgot or if a sandy bog surprised you, airing down your tires is perhaps the easiest solution to getting unstuck.

Usually, driving on sand requires around 15-20 PSI. This is a general rule of thumb, of course. The specific PSI you need will depend on many factors, including the tires you have, the vehicle you have, and the type of sandy terrain.

If your tires are already in the 15-20 PSI range, consider dropping the PSI even further, to say 10-12 to see if that gets you enough extra surface area to grip your way out of the sand.

What to Do If Your Vehicle is Stuck in Sand – Rock It Out

What to Do If Your Vehicle is Stuck in Sand - Rock It Out

Photo by Lorado via iStock

Another option to try is to rock the vehicle back and forth by alternating forward and reverse motions.

When rocking the vehicle, a slow and steady pace is absolutely essential. If you aren’t gentle about it, you run the risk of digging the tires even deeper into the sand (as shown in the image above).

If rocking back and forth doesn’t get you the desired results, add traction boards to the mix. Simply place the boards in front of and under each tire, that way the tires have something solid to grip onto.

Again, with traction boards you need to be slow with your pace. You don’t need full-speed momentum to get out of a sand bog, but rather a steady forward movement.

Learn More:

Bust Out the Shovel

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“Jeep stuck in sand” by mlovitt is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When considering what to do if your vehicle is stuck in sand, shoveling might be your best option.

When in a sandy mess, you aren’t digging to find solid ground – that might take a while! Instead, the goal is to dig into the area where you’ve gotten stuck to level out the sand and to create ramps in front of and in back of each tire. Doing so ensures your vehicle won’t drag bottom as you move forward or back, and the “ramps” might help you get that little bit of extra momentum to get out.

What to Do If Your Vehicle is Stuck in Sand – Get a Friend to Help

We often talk about the importance of going overlanding and off-roading with a group specifically for this kind of situation. If you’re hopelessly stuck, your only option for getting out might be your travel companions.

One of the best methods is to use a snatch strap, as you can see in the video above by Great Off-Road Adventures. These straps are made of stretchy webbing that stretch by about 20 percent when they’re loaded up. This means the strap stores energy, and as it gets back to its unloaded length, it pulls the stuck vehicle out of the sand.

This is not a move for the faint of heart. It is imperative that you use a dampener, which will keep the strap from impacting your vehicle or the tow vehicle in case there is a break. If you don’t have a dampener, a wet towel can be used in a pinch.

Just Be Prepared

just be prepared for your vehicle is stuck in sand

Photo by Lingbeek via iStock

Driving on sand requires that you understand what you can and can’t do behind the wheel. Preparation and planning will help you avoid getting stuck in many situations, but preparation and planning will also equip you to get unstuck in those situations in which the sand wins the battle.
When driving on sand, try to drive in established tracks as the sand will already be compacted and provide you with more traction. Also follow the contours of the sand to the extent possible. For example, if you want to turn around, turn downslope to do so, not upslope. And have the requisite recovery gear to get yourself out – a shovel, tire deflator and pressure gauge, traction boards, a snatch strap, and dampener.
Don’t forget to re-inflate your tires once you’re back on solid ground, either!

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