Correctly using a Snatch Strap for 4x4 Vehicle recovery

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Use and care of a Snatch Strap

  • It is Important to only use the correct equipment that is in good condition, correctly rated for the vehicle weight and loads involved. DO NOT use small vehicle rated straps for large vehicles and vice versa, it can be dangerous and ineffective in recovering the vehicle
  • As a basic guide for large vehicles like Landcruisers, Patrols' etc a strap rated at 10,000-11,000kg is recommended. for medium sized vehicles like Pajero's, Jeeps etc. a 8,000-9,000kg rated strap is recommended and for smaller vehicles like X-trail's, Rav-4's, Suzuki's etc. and a strap rated at 6,000-7,000 is recommended.
  • Dont use Straps that are cut, badly chaffed or otherwise damaged.
  • To keep straps in good condition wash mud, sand and dirt from straps after use with mild soapy water, rinse well and make sure strap is completely dry before storing away.
  • Snatch Straps are not designed or approved for lifting purposes or towing purposes,  use only proper tow straps, ropes or chains for towing or lifting.
  • Carefully assess the situation, including best direction for vehicle recovery (forward or reverse) and other possible hazzards. To ease vehicle recovery clear mud, sand or other obsticles from stranded vehicles wheels and if stranded vehicle is bottomed out then also clearing undercarriage may be neccessary to get its wheels back on the ground.
  • Position the tow vehicle in line with the stranded vehicle (no more than 10 degrees from a straight line) with the distance between the stranded vehicle and the recovery vehicle about two metres shorther than the unstretched snatch strap.
  • Lay the strap out between the two vehicles making sure there are no kinks, twist or knots in the strap and attatch the strap to the vehicle manufactureres rated recovery points. DO NOT use tiedown eyes, tow balls, tow bars, bull bars or suspension components - they are not designed for vehicle recovery and high loads used in vehicle recovery can break these points. Vehicle damage and serious injuries can result from failed recovery points.
  • Form an "S" shape loop of the spare two metres of the strap near the middle of the strap. A proper recovery damper blanket or heavy blanket should be draped over the strap near the middle to dampen any recoil of the strap.
  • If shackles are required for for attatching the snatch strap to the vehicle then make sure only rated and stamped shackles are used (Working Load Limit shackles of at least 3.25 tonne are reccomended for smaller vehicles and 4.7 tonne rated shackles for larger vehicles). Hand tighten shackles and back them off 1/4 of a turn from tight to prevent the pins from binding or seizing in the shackle.
  • Avoid joining straps where possible but if required due to terrain, location etc. use only reccomended techniques for joining straps. NEVER use metal objects to join two straps together including shackles and they can become deadly missiles in the event of a recoiling failed strap or recovery point. Shackles should only be used for attatching a strap to a recovery point on the vehicle.
  • To join two straps correctly and safely pull the first strap through the eyelet of the second strap and back through itself. Pull the resulting joint tight but insert a rolled up magazine or similar into the middle of the joint. This will prevent the knot from over tightening during recovery and enable the straps to be undone easily when finished.

 

  • Onlookers should not be in front, between or behind the vehicles and should be kept at least 1.5 times the length of the strap away from the revovery area.
  • Agree on suitable signals between the drivers with one driver directing the process. The recovery vehicle should accelerate steadily forward at about 10-15kph, a big run up and jerk action should be avoided as it can result in a damaged or failed recovery strap or recovery point.
  • Steady momentum and the elasticity of the snatch strap should work to "pop" the stranded vehicle out of its bogged situation. Be smooth with the recovery vehicle, avoid wheel spin and dont use excessive speed or continual jerking. As the slack in the strap takes up, the stranded vehicle should also try and  attempt to drive out of the bog.
  • Picking the right gears to use for both vehicles will require some judgement, but as a starting point use 1st gear for the recovery vehicle and first (or reverse for rear recovery) in the stranded vehicle. Vehicles with low range should select low 1st or 2nd gear.
  • After three unsuccessful attempts other recovery methods should be considered such as winching.
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