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How to rock a stuck vehicle without Burning up Your Transmission

How to get your car unstuck

How to rock a stuck vehicle without Burning up Your Transmission

Using the wrong “Rocking” technique can destroy your transmission.

If you’ve been taught to rock yourself out of a rut, snow, or ice by shifting from R to D, PAY ATTENTION TO THIS ARTICLE.

If you use that technique, I can just about guarantee you that you’ll destroy your transmission. Yeah, I know, you’ve done it before with no damage. Well, you were lucky. The transmissions in late model vehicles simply cannot take that kind of abuse.

Here’s how the damage happens. You put the vehicle in D and give it gas. The transmission immediately goes through the 1-2 and 2-3 shift. That means clutch packs pressurize, and bands apply. Before all the spinning parts have a chance to stop, you slam it into R. All those clutches disengage, bands move, and it shifts into reverse. The clutch material starts to overheat from being applied so quickly. Also, the high pressure needed to engage and disengage those clutches heats up the transmission fluid. Then you move it back into D and the procedure repeats. Over and over again.

By the time you’re out of the ditch, you’ve glazed the clutch disks and possibly warped the steel spacer rings. That damage is permanent and it will come back to haunt you. Maybe not right away. But within six months, your transmission will scream for mercy. And when it goes, you won’t connect its demise with that “stuck in the snow” incident from last winter.

What’s the PROPER way to rock a vehicle?

Move the shift level to LOW gear. Slowly apply the gas. The wheels will start to spin and begin to move the vehicle up the rut. Do NOT exceed 15MPH on the speedo. When you reach the maximum forward movement, take your foot OFF the gas. Let inertia roll you back into the ditch. Then give it gas again. Use the vehicle’s weight and inertia to get you out.

This procedure keeps the transmission in low gear. That locks out the 1-2 and 3-4 shift and eliminates Reverse from the equation.

If you can’t get unstuck, CALL A FREAKING TOW TRUCK. It’s a LOT cheaper than a new transmission.

© 2012 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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