Guidelines for Safe Use of Vehicle Recovery Snatch Straps


Recovery straps are made from 100% nylon webbing that can stretch under load and recoil back to almost its original length. The combination of the recovery vehicle pull and the tension in the strap creates a ‘snatching’ effect that can pull a stranded vehicle free from being bogged or unable to move under its own power. Always adhere to safe operating procedures and guidelines. When used in accordance with these guidelines, vehicles may be recovered with minimal risk of injury to people or damage to vehicles and equipment.


1. Check the strap and its packaging for the stated Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS).

2. It is recommended that the minimum breaking strength of the strap should be between 2 and 3 times the vehicle’s gross vehicle mass (GVM) (the weight of the vehicle and any people, accessories and supplies); and

3. The strap must be suited to the GVM of the lighter of the two vehicles used in the recovery process.

4. Persons intending to use the strap should consider completing a nationally recognised four wheel drive training course or contact a four wheel drive club for comprehensive advice on the proper selection and use of the strap.

5. The strap must not be used for lifting or conventional towing.

6. Persons intending to use the strap must ensure that the strap is not damaged and is in usable condition.

7. The strap’s strength and stretch are reduced when the strap is saturated.

8. 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.

9. 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.

WARNING – Always follow product instructions. It is important to correctly attach the motor vehicle recovery strap to a motor vehicle. A standard tow ball or vehicle tie-down point is not designed for this purpose and may result in the strap or a vehicle component detaching from a motor vehicle and striking and seriously injuring or killing a person. Only attach the strap to a vehicle recovery point or device that is suitably rated for use with the strap. Incorrect use has previously resulted in serious injury and death.’


1. Never attempt to recover a vehicle without all the necessary equipment.
2. Only use equipment that is properly rated for the particular situation. If in doubt, don’t use it.
3. Never exceed the Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS) of the strap or the Working Load Limit (WLL) of shackles.
4. Check your vehicle manufacturer’s hand book for recovery point locations.


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 properly and more stress will be placed on the recovery points, possibly causing damage or injury. The Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS) 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. If the GVM is not stated on the identification plate of a vehicle or its registration certificate it could be available from the owner’s handbook or from the vehicle manufacturer.


Only the persons involved in the recovery should be in either of the vehicles. Ensure bystanders stay a safe distance away of at least 1.5 times the length of the unstretched strap in the opposite direction. NEVER stand between vehicles connected by a recovery strap.


Carefully assess the circumstances of the stranded vehicle. If it has bottomed out, clear under the vehicle body so it rests on its wheels. The recovery vehicle should be placed in line (no more than 10° off the straight line) with the stranded vehicle, for either a forward or reverse recovery operation. Distance between vehicles should be 2-3 metres less than the unstretched length of the recovery strap. Establish agreed signals between the vehicle drivers, by radio (preferably), hand signals or vehicle horn.


Carefully inspect the recovery strap to determine that it is in good condition. If the strap is wet, dirty, cut or chaffed, it will not perform properly. A wet strap may be 20% under strength, a damaged strap may break. Do not allow the strap to come into with contact hot surfaces or sharp edges. Roll the strap out between the vehicles, making sure there are no twists or knots. Leave about 2-3 metres slack between the vehicles. The joining of straps should be avoided wherever possible (Retailers carry varying lengths of straps). NEVER USE A METAL OBJECT to join two straps together – if the strap breaks it can become a lethal missile and cause damage or injury.

Check your vehicle manufacturer’s hand book for recovery point locations, or use correctly rated and fitted aftermarket recovery points. DO NOT CONNECT TO A TOW BALL OR TIE DOWN POINT. Connect recovery strap to recovery point; for any recovery point requiring the use of a shackle to attach the strap, use only load rated shackles. Only connect to correctly rated recovery points on the vehicles, with only ‘Load Rated’ shackles. Load ratings are marked on shackles as WLL (Working Load Limit). Bow Shackles are suitable for this purpose and should be rated at least 3.25t. To correctly tighten shackle pins, screw the pin until it seats then back off about ½ to 1 turn. Over tightening may lead to seized pins, due to the force exerted during recovery operations. To reduce the risk of a vehicle being damaged and person injured, hang a suitable recovery damper blanket over the recovery strap approximately midway to absorb the recoil action of a strap should it break.

REMINDER: Check all connections again and clear bystanders to a safe distance (at least 1.5 times the length of the unstretched strap) to the side of the recovery operation and NEVER in the line of recovery.


1. Before the recovery operation drivers must agree on the point to which the stranded vehicle is to be recovered and the signal (radio, hand signal or horn blast) when that point is reached.

2. With communications maintained between both vehicles, and recovery strap secure, the recovery vehicle should gently accelerate, taking up the slack and proceeding at no faster than 10-12kph. For best results the stranded vehicle should be in 1st gear (or 2nd Low), and the driver should assist the recovery by trying to drive out approximately 3 seconds from when the recovery vehicle moves off.

3. If the vehicle is not recovered on the first attempt, check under the stranded vehicle, again, for obstacles, reset the slack in the recovery strap and try a little more speed by the recovery vehicle.

4. NOTE: Excessive speed or continual jerking action whilst using a recovery strap may result in damage to the recovery point, chassis and drive line of both vehicles.

5. When the stranded vehicle reaches the agreed point the driver should advise and the recovery vehicle should stop, then the stranded vehicle should stop.

6. Where proper use of a Recovery strap is unsuccessful, use an appropriate sized recovery winch.

7. Do not attempt to remove the strap until both vehicles are stationary and secured.

NOTE: Recovery straps require rest periods between use to return to their original length and capacity. Excessive pulls over a short period of time can cause build-up of heat and possible failure.

CAUTION: Always follow the recovery strap Guidelines for safe use.


1. Never allow your strap to rub against sharp or hot surfaces.
2. Avoid twists & kinks in the webbing.
3. Always coil your strap during storage.
4. Clean your strap in warm water with a mild detergent and allow to thoroughly dry before storage.
5. Foreign material such as sand and grit can permanently damage the strap fibres.
6. Be aware that a strap can lose up to 20% of its strength when wet.
7. Inspect the entire length of any straps for nicks and cuts before and after use. If damaged, straps should be replaced.
8. Never use the strap as a lifting device.
9. Inspect shackles for damage. Pins that are hard to turn suggest that the shackle has been overstressed and should be replaced.

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