Vehicle Recovery 101

It’s inevitable. Your offroading adventures can lead to a situation where your 4 x 4 gets stuck. It happens even to the most experienced drivers. Whether you plan on crossing a river, taking on Ninety Mile Beach, driving on soft mud, powdery snow or any other terrain that is not a sealed road, being prepared with the right recovery gear can save the day.

Recovery Gear Tips:

  • Rated Recovery Points – This is essential for any four-wheel drive. The biggest sin a 4 x 4 owner can commit is to use the towball as a recovery point – under extreme tension, this will most certainly come off. As such, using it for recovery is extremely dangerous. A rugged towbar engineered for offroading such as Beaut Utes’ X-Bar is a good example of an accessory that you can have for recovery. It has 3 rated recovery points to get you out of any situation.

recovery points under vehicle

  • Winches – A winch is a mechanical device that has a motor and a rotating drum with a rope, a chain or a strap which provides pulling power to get you out of most extreme situations.

red ute winching over rocks

  • Damper – This is a must-have for any winch or strap recovery. It reduces the possibility of energy transfer through the strap or cable by forcing the line down during component failure. This causes the line to drop down to the ground in case of breakage so it does not harm you, your property or any bystander.
  • Tree Trunk Protector – Trees are often used as anchor points when recovering. However, running a wire or a chain around the trunk can severely damage the tree. Getting sap on your winch gear can also damage it. This low-cost item should be part of your recovery gear.
  • Recovery straps – If you are doing a snatch recovery, you will need recovery straps. These are designed to stretch under intense loads and contracts when load is removed from it. It is less rigid than a wire or a rope, which is great for dispersing kinetic energy from pulling a stuck vehicle. Use only top-quality, correctly rated recovery straps. These should be washed immediately after being used in mud or sand.

man recovering vehicle from sand

  • Shackles – Bow shackles are essential for recovery. It is used to attach recovery straps to a rated recovery point, tree trunk protectors, winch extension straps and snatch blocks.
  • Recovery Tracks – These purpose-designed tracks should be able to handle intense levels of torque, flex, weight and impact to improve traction in mud, sand and snow and get you mobile again. It offers an easy solution when you get stuck if it is possible to stick them under the wheels and drive out.
  • Spade or Shovel – This is handy for digging away sand or excess mud from wheels so you have a better chance to drive out.

Vehicle Recovery Tips:

  • Assess the situation – Determine what terrain you are trying to recover the vehicle from. Getting out from rocks may mean a different recovery technique versus getting out of mud or sand. Talk through the plan with people involved in the recovery. Identify possible hazards and risks.
  • Clear the path – Remove loose rocks, logs or mud that may hinder your recovery progress. Clear the way so you can drive out of the situation easier.
  • Decide on what equipment and method to use– There are several things you may use to aid in the vehicle recovery. Do you have a winch? Will a snatch work better for the recovery? Will recovery tracks help get you out that situation? Will deflating the tyres help? The method and gear to use will depend on how the vehicle is bogged down.

arb vehcile recovery kit

  • Keep safe – Anyone not involved in the vehicle recovery needs to step aside and be a safe distance away from the operation. Remember to use a damper over the snatch strap if you are using a snatch.
  • Check for damage – Once you are able to drive out, take the time to check your vehicle for damage. Check your recovery equipment as well. You may also want to check that everyone is safe and that there have been no injuries that require immediate medical attention.