Driving through the outback, beach or the wilderness is very thrill-inducing and will require every horsepower that your vehicle can muster. Add the fantastic views that you can witness while driving, you’ll never need to look closely to see why many people are into this activity. However, there is a big chance that you’ll get stuck in a bog or by the wet sand while driving through the track.
If it hasn’t happened to you yet (which I doubt), there’s a good chance that you helped someone to recover their vehicle at some point. Recoveries almost often go south but there are a lot of things that you can do to lessen the chance of damaging the vehicle concerned. To reduce this risk, the recovery points in your 4WD vehicle must be rated and mounted properly. If you attach a snatch strap incorrectly like on a tow ball, it can lead to serious injuries or even death.
To ensure that your life and property will not be harmed, here are the proper recovery points in your vehicle…
How Do I Know If A Recovery Point Is Rated?
One sure way to find out is the Owner’s Manual that came with the vehicle. You can also scour forums and websites online that discuss the topic. However, you need to make sure that the information that you have read is valid, so you need to search for supporting articles that support the original article.
Another way to find out is by looking at it. If you feel like it won’t survive the pressure, then there is a good chance that it won’t. You can also find stamps or labels on the hooks and plates that specify the load that they can take. These areas are also designed to be able to handle the extra load, so you can recover the vehicle with ease and safety.
How Are Recovery Points Attached to The Vehicle?
The way the recovery point is bolted onto the chassis should also be considered. If it doesn’t appear to be attached by at least two M12 bolts, then it might not be able to handle the load. To be sure, find the label on the head of the bolts that says “8.8”. This will indicate that the bolt has high tensile strength and will be able to survive the recovery. Other bolts that don’t have this specification will easily break and can be potentially damaging to you or your vehicle.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record here but care should be maintained when doing a recovery. A rated recovery point is useless if the vehicle’s chassis is damaged or the bolts break on the first try. These things might be quite complicated but they can cause serious harm or damage to your investment, so you must proceed with caution.
What Is A Tie-Down Point?
Tie-down points are specifically designed for tying onto. They are easy to break off and can snap through the air at a breakneck speed. So, attaching a very heavy vehicle through a snatch strap is a bad idea.
The tie-down points’ flimsiness is caused by their design. They are made from thin steel that can easily break off when jolted by a heavy load. However, some of them are more durable than others. One way to know if a tie-down point is not meant for recovery are the bolts. If they are attached to the chassis by just 8mm bolts, then it can’t be used for recovery.
What Are Recovery Plates and Hooks?
Hooks are one of the most common recovery points. Most of them are rated to more than 4.5 tonnes and they are very effective during recovery. Hooks must also be used in tandem possibly with an equaliser strap to make the task easier. These things are great because you can directly attach a snatch strap to it without ever needing to use a shackle.
What Is A Hitch Receiver?
This device is a block of steel that inserts into the rear hitch along with a shackle that is bolted on. They are very effective in recovery because they are strong, versatile, and will give you an option to have a recovery point in the middle of your vehicle. Hitch receivers also need to be attached to a shackle that can handle up to 4500 kg of load.
It is also important to have hitch receiver on both the front and the rear of the vehicle.
Can I Use the Tow Ball as A Recovery Point?
NO! It is dangerous to strap over a tow ball which is only meant to pull trailers. Tow balls are not designed to handle the sudden load that is forced into it when used during recovery. When you see someone doing this dangerous method, please tell them to stop.
When tow balls break, they have the tendency to be thrown to the air and hit someone. Accidents caused by this mistake has already resulted in a number of deaths worldwide.
When Should I Use A Snatch Strap or A Winch?
There are various ways to handle a recovery situation but snatch straps are one of the most reliable ways to handle them. However, they need to undergo a buildup of energy before they work. So, if it breaks, it is quite dangerous because of the force that you have exerted on it. On the other hand, winches will pull your vehicle slowly which will enable you to have a greater level of control.
The choice between a snatch strap or winches is important but taking it easy during the process is key. You don’t need a 10 metre run up to recover another vehicle on your first try! All you need to do is to start off gently (about 1 metre) and from there increase the run up until the vehicle is pulled away from the bog. The same is true for winches, especially if the vehicle is stuck very deep into the mud. In this case, you should use a double line and tether the winches to a solid structure like a tree or another vehicle.
Should I Check the Recovery Points in My Vehicle?
If you bought a 4WD vehicle, it is mainly used to go to the outback or the wilderness. These environments can damage the recovery points and it can be a hassle when you only discovered that is damaged in emergency situations. You should regularly check the recovery points and replace them if needed. These things are very cheap to replace but they can be lifesavers in your worst days.
Is It Possible to Recover My Vehicle Without A Recovery Point?
Sometimes, even with all of the preparation that you did before a trip, something will still go wrong. One of the worst things that can happen is getting bogged down without a safe way to recover your vehicle. It might be because your recovery points got damaged or you still haven’t installed one in your vehicle, still it’ll result in a lot of hassle.
“How will you pull my car out of the mud?”, you might ask. It’s quite simple really. Most of the 4WD vehicles today have towbars that can be removed. After removing it, attach the snatch strap into the hitch receiver and install the pin and R clip again.
However, if your vehicle is way too deep into the bog, there is a serious risk that the pin will bend. Making it far harder to pull the vehicle out. Tow bars also vary in durability and strength, so gauge first if it can survive the recovery.
What Are Traction Aids and Should I Use Them?
Traction boards/aids are a godsend for 4WD enthusiasts. They can be used in pretty much all terrain and are safer to use than performing a recovery through a snatch strap or winch. You will not need to exert massive effort to pull your vehicle out of the mud so there is a lesser chance of damage being done to your vehicle’s chassis. Instead, the board will increase the traction of your vehicle to release it from being entrenched.
Aside from using it as a standalone option for recovery, other gears can also be used in conjunction with the board. This will help reduce the load against your vehicle and it will make recovery easier. Aside from that, you can also use them for guiding your vehicle to tread on the right direction on slick terrain, cover-up deep ruts, and use it as a ramp to climb steep obstacles.
Can My Vehicle Handle A Recovery?
This one is quite weird. If you pore through the Owner’s Manual that came with your vehicle, the manufacturer will not specify if it will be able to do a recovery. This might be caused by their intent to escape culpability if something wrong happens. So, in your vehicle manufacturer’s point of view, you should not try to recover other vehicles using your own.
However, this task has been done a million times by almost everyone but most of their vehicles did not get damaged in the process. If you know what you’re doing or you have the right tools for the job, then this shouldn’t bother you.
What Are the Things That You Shouldn’t Do During A Recovery?
Towing a vehicle back to solid ground is not an easy task. So, mistakes will be likely made and it may lead to the failure to recover the vehicle or serious harm. Here are some of the things that you should try to avoid:
- Standing near the vehicle being recovered: I know a recovery might be fun to watch but you need to be at least a few metres away. Doing so will save you from recovery gear that might snap at any moment. If the person concerned is not a part of your group or a bystander, just politely ask them to move out of the way and go to a safe distance.
- Not bringing around a shovel: Digging around the sand or mud around the wheel of your 4WD vehicle will lessen the difficulty of recovering it. Do this in all four wheels to give them a better chance to come back into the surface again.
- Joining two or more snatch straps through a shackle: Snatch straps come in a variety of lengths, however, there are still some situations where it just isn’t long enough. The most logical step to take is to join two together to increase the length. However, with the strength of a snatch strap, it will likely break which will send the shackle flying through the air. The best thing that you can do is to try to tie both sides with a knot.
- Being in a hurry: Patience is a virtue – and it really pays off during a recovery. Doing so can help you get some perspective on how you can save your car. However, if you are stuck on the beach with the tides coming, then you shouldn’t dillydally and hurry up!
- Not setting your tyre pressure correctly: Adjusting the tyre pressure is one of the basics when you do off-road trips. This is especially important when you want to drive on a 4WD beach track where you’ll need to lower your tyre pressure to traverse it safely. So, if you got stuck, check the tyre pressure first before you make a recovery. Also, take note of the pressure change as your tyre heats up.
- Putting your vehicle in reverse: Doing so will surely break your vehicle’s gearbox. In order to prevent this, put your vehicle in first or second gear before doing a recovery.
- Ignoring the other recovery point/s: Every vehicle should have two recovery points found at the front and rear. Using an equaliser strap between the two points through a winch or snatch strap will distribute the force on the chassis.
- Adding more potential hazards into the mix: Do not add more gear than what is needed for the task. These gears might be flung to the air when something breaks, so it can add to the potential hazards.
- Starting off at full speed on the first try: The best way to recover a vehicle is to start off slowly and gradually increasing the speed if the first try fails. If you start off at full speed, you might add significant stress on everything involved that may lead to something breaking in the process.
- Using recovery equipment that is not compatible with your vehicle: The title says it all. Using tools that are meant for other makes and models will result in futility. You might risk a snatch breaking or you might not be able to move the bogged vehicle at all!
What Is the Maximum Length for A Tow Rope?
The maximum length of the tow rope that you can use is 4.5 metres. In addition, you need to make sure that your towrope will not exceed 4.5 metres if you don’t want to be fined for a traffic violation. You can decrease its length as much as you like; however, the towrope rope needs to be long enough to give the driver of the vehicle being towed sufficient time to stop and react.
Do I Need to Put an Automatic Car on Neutral While Towing?
Yes. It may seem to be turned off but neutral only disengages the engine from the transmission but not the wheels. Alternatively, a wheel lift towing vehicle may be used if a flatbed towing vehicle is not available. In addition, you should not tow your vehicle from the rear while the front wheels are on the ground. This can damage your vehicle’s transaxle.
Can Towing A Vehicle Cause Damage on the Transmission?
If you have a vehicle with an automatic transmission, a lube pump is required before it can be towed safely. Also, disconnecting the driveshaft of an RWD vehicle before towing it flat is recommended. You’ll need to be extra careful as tow dollies can damage your vehicle if you don’t take the right precautions
Why Do I Need to Disconnect the Drive Shaft When Towing?
Disconnecting the drive shaft is a standard procedure when towing a rear axle driven front-engine vehicle in order to prevent damage to the transmission. In addition, simply placing the transmission in neutral is not enough to prevent damage due to the vehicle’s lack of internal lubrication. If you have more questions, consult your vehicle owner’s manual.
Can Mud Cause Damage on My Vehicle?
Mud is akin to a secret kill for vehicle owners because many don’t realise how damaging it is. This can be observed mostly on the underside of your vehicle as it is the most vulnerable. In order to prevent damaging your vehicle because of mud and dirt, always make sure to clean it. When left in crevices and corners, they dry up and stick on your vehicle’s undercarriage and it can cause rusting.
How Do I Recover My Vehicle from Mud and Snow?
If you get bogged down, use a shovel or ice scraper to clear the area around the tyres and the front of your vehicle. Doing so will make recovery easier as snow or mud above the clearance of your vehicle can block your tyres and it will require more effort. If there is ice around the tyres, break it by using rebar or screwdriver.