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Frozen Outback

I was forced to sit in my 2005 Subaru Outback (5spd manual) for 15-20 with it running to stay warm. I was at elevation over 9000 ft, it was 6 degress with wind at least 50+ mph. Visibility was poor and traffice both ways stopped. When it was finally time to creep forward again in the ground blizzard, my car would not move. It seemed as though the tires were frozen to the pavement. I think something was frozen around the gears/clutch for as I tried to put the car into gear I would start to smell clutch/brake smell. Finally a fire/resue angel came and after several tries to pop the clutch and stalling my car, the car lurched forward and I was able to continue on my trip. What and happened? Was something frozen in sub-zero temperature and how can I prevent this from happening again as I travel this road often.

I think the snow under your tires melted a bit and then refroze locking you in place. This happens and quicly under the cold conditions with wind you describe.

Also sometimes with snow build up in your wheel wells between body and tire can freeze solid especially at those temp causing the same problem. However you will get scraping sound for a bit after.

I don’t think it was your car itself, just awful conditions.

I agree with Andrew. Everything that you have mentioned makes it probable that your tires literally froze to the pavement or that the build-up of snow in the wheel wells froze to the tires.

With my Outback, I find that it is a good idea to stop after about 30 minutes of driving in severe snow conditions in order to remove snow from the wheel wells, as there is not a lot of clearance there.

Any ideas about the smell? I still don’t know if it’s brakes or clutch. I don’t think the snow build up in the wheel well was the problem. I know that sound and hear it often. Am I suppose to try and remove the snow build up? I did once and only broke the ice scraper. Lovely Colorado roads!

I smoked my clutch a few times pulling a boat out, still original at 110k when I traded it in. Probably it was the clutch you smelled, wait till it has a problem. I have kicked the snow chunks away, I suppose some steel towed cowboy boots would work well, If I hear the snow buildup I kick the chunks out. An Ice scraper is probably outranked as you found.

It just makes sense that if the car was stuck to the road, after a few minutes of trying (in vain) to move it, the clutch will begin to overheat and produce a really bad smell.

I use a shortened broom stick to dig the snow out of the wheel wells. An ice scraper is just not up to the task.

I had my tires freeze to the pavement in ice several times in the three years I lived in North Dakota. It’s not uncommon in these frigid temperatures.

Same here in Maine. Fortunately I was at home and could heat the area around the tires and broke it free with tractor. I was lucky to not have to use the car drive train.