Safe Use of 4WD Recovery Straps

Recovery Straps

A tow strap should not be used to recover or snatch a vehicle that is bogged. Traditionally vehicle tow straps are much less flexible and designed only to pull a load that freely moves. The straps’ inability to stretch can‘t absorb energy, which increases the likelihood that it will break. Using a tow strap with very little stretch for vehicle recovery is extremely unsafe!

Selecting the Correct Recovery Strap

It is very important the correctly rated strap is used. A strap with a ‘too light’ breaking strength may break under load. A strap with ‘too heavy’ a breaking strength may not stretch adequately and more stress will be placed on the recovery points, possibly causing damage or injury. The Minimum Breaking Load (MBL) of the strap should be between 2 and 3 times the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of the ‘lighter’ of the two vehicles used in the recovery process. Be aware that the Recovery Strap will be under greater load if the vehicle is bogged in mud, sand or heavily loaded.


  • Never attempt to recover a vehicle without all the necessary equipment.
  • Only use equipment that is properly rated for the particular situation. If in doubt, don’t use it.
  • Never exceed the Minimum Breaking Load (MBL) of the strap or the Working Load Limit (WLL) of shackles.

Keeping People Safe

Only the drivers of the stranded and recovery vehicle should be in those vehicles. Nobody else should be in or on those vehicles.

Ensure bystanders stay at least 1.5 times the un-stretched strap length away, to the side of the line of recovery. NEVER stand between vehicles connected by a Recovery Strap.

Key Information & Safety Recommendations

  • Check the strap and its packaging for the stated Minimum Breaking Load (MBL) of the strap.
  • Persons intending to use the strap should consider completing a nationally recognised training course or contact a four wheel drive club for comprehensive advice on the proper selection and use of the strap.
  • The strap must never be used for lifting or conventional towing.
  • Persons intending to use the strap must ensure that the strap is not damaged and is in usable condition.
  • The strap’s strength and stretch are reduced when the strap is saturated.
  • Something like a recovery damper, heavy bag or blanket must be draped over the strap during use to reduce any unintentional rebound of the strap.
  • While the strap is being used, persons situated outside the motor vehicles involved in the recovery process must –(A) be kept at a safe distance (recommended as at least 1.5 times the length of the unstretched strap) from either of the vehicles involved in the recovery process; and (B) never situate themselves within the path of the vehicle performing the recovery.

General Care & Maintenance

  • Never allow your strap to rub against sharp or hot surfaces.
  • Avoid twists & kinks, after washing, and when dry always coil your strap for storage.
  • Clean your strap with warm water and a mild detergent, allowing thorough drying before storage. Foreign material such as sand and grit can permanently damage the strap fibres.
  • Check full length of straps for nicks and cuts before and after use. If damaged, replace it.
  • Never use the strap as a lifting sling.
  • Inspect shackles for damage; if pins are hard to turn, shackle has been overstressed. Replace it.