Off Road: … and stuck!

Stuck F-150 DistanceWhen you own a 4WD vehicle, snow can become a fun thing, like being a kid again.  You look forward to driving in the snow, so long as the 2WD cars aren’t anywhere around to slide into you.  You boast about your two-speed transfer case and your off-road skid plates and tires.  Or, if you’re like me, you don’t quite look forward to driving in it, but know that you can go (almost) anywhere you need to, and can usually get yourself out of sticky situations.  Well, that is, if you know what’s underneath the snow.

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, I was visiting my in-laws with my wife and our dog.  In order to aid my wife in walking our dog, I decided I’d drive down the access road along the power lines in my father-in-law’s back field.  I had done this same thing earlier in the winter, and it worked well.  That was with only 6″ of snow.  Now there was almost 14″ of the powdery white stuff on the whole field, making the edges of the road invisible, so I took it slow and tried to stay where I thought the access road was.

Stuck F-150 From BehindOops!  Towards the back of the field, where I wanted to turn around and head back to the house, there’s a hidden ditch on the right-hand side of the road, which stays wet, and oddly enough, hadn’t frozen.  The right-front corner of my truck slid into it, and no amount of trying was getting itself out of there.  After hiking back to the house to get my father-in-law, we hopped into his truck, a 2004 Nissan Frontier, and headed back out to where my Ford was stuck.

Since his Frontier’s ground clearance is not quite as high as mine, we first tried to back the F-150 out in its existing tracks, with his truck in drive and mine in reverse.  This resulted in some rocking, but alas, his truck had neither the weight nor the traction (even with his slightly more aggressive tires) to pull mine out.  At this point, the F-150 had dug its way even further down, and a Plan B was required.

Stuck F-150 Unstuck FrontBraving himself getting stuck, he maneuvered his truck in front of and to the left of mine, and we looped the tow rope through my front tow hook and again attached it to the ball on his hitch.  With my wheels turned to the left, in the direction of the tow rope and tow vehicle (this is important if you’re ever getting pulled out of a ditch – turn your wheels to go with the tow vehicle, otherwise you can break your front suspension components), his truck clawed and scraped its way through the snow, and was able to pull the front of my truck out of its mud hole.

Once un-stuck, the F-150 had no more troubles, since that was apparently the only still-muddy place close to the access road.  Also, a quick once-over revealed that nothing appeared broken or bent, so that was a win, and the truck drove several hundred miles home without incident.  I guess there’s some truth to the tagline, “Built Ford Tough,” after all.

Stuck F-150 Both TrucksNow I have a much clearer understanding of what a stock Ford F-150 4×4 can do in a foot of snow and some mud, and may look into getting more aggressive tires when the stock Goodyear Wrangler’s wear out.

Finally, thanks to my father-in-law for helping me get my truck out of his field!

by John Suit

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