Wait, whaaaa? You can make these yourself? Absolutely, in fact over here at “How to get your car unstuck”, I mention carrying a 2×4; I always had one with me during the winter months. My level of success varied with a plain 2 x 4 but this was a rudimentary DIY traction mat, although with not so much traction.
There is any number of things you can use when you are in a pinch and need to get unstuck. The problem is will they be available if you need them.
Some people have used rocks and sticks to throw under their stuck tires to help them get free. I would imagine that this was more of an off-road scene than getting stuck in a snowbank or on a sheet of ice, but ya never know.
Another thing I mentioned was using kitty litter or sand. During the winter months in Maine, I always had sand in my car, you never knew when you need that little bit extra to get you out of a “situation”. Even better than sand, maybe kitty litter. Kitty litter expands when it absorbs moisture (go figure), so this may be an option for you.
Granted these suggestions are not traction mats per se, but they are low-grade substitutes that may or may not work in a pinch. Now moving on to more mat like devices, that may help you out. Starting from least to best.
DIY Traction Mat – Homemade
After some research, it would appear to be a fairly simple process. The advantages of this are you can customize it to the size that you need. Second, you may be able to do it for a little bit cheaper than buying a manufactured one. Finally, you will have a unique traction mat, just for you, if that matters to you.
- A large piece of ¾” plywood
- Rubber Mat (depending on how elaborate you want to get)
- Nuts, bolts, and washers (maybe ¾” x 2 ½”)
- Spade Drill Bit
- Wrench for whatever size bolt you chose
- Cut the plywood and rubber to the same size. For instance a 1’ x 3’ plank.
- This can be whatever size you need. Also, you will need to do this twice, for a set of two (2).
- Clamp the rubber and plywood together. You are about to drill holes through both.
- Drill holes about every 1 ½” to 2” apart.
- Place the adhesive on the rubber and adhere it to the plywood.
- Bolt down the nuts, bolts, and washers to the plywood and rubber.
An alternative to this could be just putting screws through the plywood; without the rubber on top. A traction mat of this type would be good only for ice and snow and may not be quite as effective.
As I stated, I have not done this, but this is a general idea that I would follow. When I build one, I will give a more detailed description.
A couple of things to keep in mind. If you do not have the tools or the supplies you need; these could be more expensive than a manufactured set. The rubber mat alone priced at around $28; just to give you an idea.
Also, the metal nuts may do a significant amount of damage to your tires. This is something to keep in mind as replacing tires is significantly more expensive than replacing a traction mat.
That’s right, I use to carry around an ugly piece of green carpet. It was about 2’x2’. I actually used it as a floor mat for a while. It did a nice job of keeping the dirt and mud off of my floor.
I used it once for a mat when I was in a bad spot, then I had to get rid of it. There were little pieces of carpet everywhere and the rubber under matting had begun to melt. It got me moving, but I had to throw my precious floor mat away.
Speaking of Floor Mats
Use a rubber floor mat for a temporary traction mat. As I mentioned here, you will probably not be able to use that mat again in your car, but if you need just a little extra boost this will work for you. If you don’t want to use your precious floor mat (like I had to), why not a mud flap.
It’s designed to be outside the vehicle, it’s made of thicker rubber, it may give you what you need to get unstuck. I don’t know that I would go to the store and buy a brand new set of mud flaps to throw down for this purpose, but if you had an extra set just lying around…
I carried these around, too. This article has been a little trip down memory lane. Anyway, these have the shape and grit that you need, but they are flimsy and messy.
Once again, however, if you have a few leftover shingles laying around and you know you may be driving in some slippery conditions, throw a couple in your trunk.
Most likely these will disintegrate when you drive on them, but if it gets you out of a tight spot, then they have done their job. It should be noted that I have only used these on ice and snow. I do not think they would work all that well in mud or sand.
That’s right, plastic milk crates. Basically, you cut the milk crates apart and use plastic ties to connect the pieces. An added bonus to this is that they fold up. So, if you are small on money and space, these might be the solution for you.
However, I do not know where one would procure milk crates. I have some at my house, but I don’t know where they came from. Just be careful cutting the milk crates up, that thick plastic can be dangerous to cut; if you don’t know what you are doing.
As I stated, had I known about these babies when I lived up north I would have bought a pair. For the average driver who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, these could be a lifesaver.
As I stated several times, nothing is certain, sometimes you may not be able to get yourself out of a situation. At the very least, you will know that you were prepared. You also never know when you will be of help to some other unfortunate who may need some help.
Depending on how much you want to spend, how much room you have for storage in your car, and what kind of vehicle you drive; there are plenty of options out there. Or maybe you are the adventurous type and will venture to build your own. Whatever you choose…