Vehicle Self Recovery

Discretion is the better part of valor.

Be careful what you drive into and keep your situational awareness up. Listen to your vehicle for clues to its performance. Slow down on slippery roads to avoid sliding off, but you may find it necessary to speed up for deep sand, snow, or mud crossings. Momentum is your friend in thick material. A little speed where the terrain allows can carry you through the bad spot. Just keep it safe and don't go all Bo and Luke Duke trying to impress you friends.

Air down.

Let some air out of your tires if the terrain looks hazardous BEFORE you need to. This will increase your tires’ footprint for much better traction and reduce the potential for sharp rocks to puncture your tire as well.

Let air out of the tires until the side walls of the tire just start to noticeably bulge. If you have an air gauge, you can usually go as low as 12 psi without beadlock rims, but don't go any lower or you risk throwing a tire off the rim. Dropping them down to even 20 psi may be enough if your only lightly bogged down and the trail is rocky and hardpack ahead.

Use your judgment and don't be afraid to step the the psi down as necessary.

If you don't have an air gauge or fancy purpose built deflator try the tip of a key to depress the Schrader valve pin and start counting as the air leaves until the tire starts to bulge on the sidewall (usually 30-45 sec when doing it by hand), then repeat on the other tires counting to the same number and bulge size. Idea being to keep the tires roughly equal in pressure.

Again, remember to not over deflate the tires. If they are extremely deflated and flat that's a whole new problem and the tires will fall off the rim and then you are really in a pickle trying to change a tire while stuck (you will need a spare, a hi-lift, at least an extra hour, and a penchant for dangerous field mechanics for that job)

ALSO REMEMBER if you have to return to paved roads or any high speed driving conditions you will HAVE TO air the tires back up or your vehicle’s handling will be mushy and dangerous and you will ruin your tires. Any type of portable air compressor is a great addition to an offroad rig for exactly this common scenario.

Most important point to remember is try to air down before you are stuck, but even then it's not to late. Let some air out, have a plan to put some air in. Simple right? This is the number one thing people forget to do so please keep in in mind.

Don't make it worse.

If you find yourself stuck and the wheels are spinning and you lose all forward momentum, STOP! Don't keep spinning the wheels as you will just dig the car further and further into the ground making it much more difficult to recover. You can try the back and forth rocking technique after you air down the tires, but stop immediately if it doesn't work.

Get out your ActionTrax.

Alright, you've aired down, the tires won't grab, and you are officially stuck. This is where the ActionTrax become your best friend. Simply get them out and use the sawtooth ends by moving the ActionTrax side to side and cuting a small slot right under the slipping tires and insert the ActionTrax as far underneath the tire tread as far as you can so that the ActionTrax can make contact with as many tire tread lugs as possbile. If you only have two ActionTrax, put them on the drive tires (front or back) if you have four ActionTrax, put one under each wheel.

Now put the car in low gear (forwards or backwards direction is not important) and SLOWLY begin to pull out. You can also try rocking pack and forth here if the ActionTrax do not immediately grab and pull under the tires.

Most of the time you will engage the ActionTrax and pull out, and keep going to solid ground then go back and recover your gear.

If this does not directly happen, remove the ActionTrax and reposition them to the other side of the tires or other wheels and keep trying, maybe in the other direction. Also check and make sure you can see underneath the entire vehicle at least a glimmer of clearance. If the vehicle is high centered and there is no weight on the tires recovery boards will not help traction. 


For long silt beds or mud bogs, it's best to have your co-driver help out by grabbing the boards as you cross over and throwing them back in front of the slowly moving vehicle to "leap frog" it through extremely deep sections. This is an experienced only maneuver only meant to be used in life or death situations and utmost care must be given to the the lives lives of the users.

ActionTrax still won't grab?

If the ActionTrax don't immediately grab the tire tread, DO NOT SPIN YOUR WHEELS. This will only damage the ActionTrax. Stop and readjust the ActionTrax and try again. Worse case scenario, get out your car jack, use one ActionTrax as a sand foot (jack platform) and slightly lift the vehicle to insert the other ActionTrax well under the best drive tire option. Then take the jack down and put the other ActionTrax under the other drive tire. This will give you a deep grip on a tire and should do the trick.