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What you Need to Know: Auto Recovery Straps and Tow Straps

Auto recovery straps and tow straps are mainly used on rough roads or terrains that are not frequently maintained. It is also utilized by truckers who mostly drive off-road. The benefits of using both are plenty as these items literally help you out of a difficult road-related situation. 


What are the Auto-Recovery Straps?

Auto recovery straps are made using nylon fabrics. This material allows the strap to stretch as needed. Also known as snatch straps, these items posses loops on every end and have the ability to literally snatch any vehicle from a sticky situation.

Their name is also derived from their ability to “recover” any transport vehicle that has been stuck. If your car is accidentally trapped in a ditch and you are unable to remove yourself from the situation, recovery straps will help you.

Related article: Roadside Emergency Help: How to Use Recovery Straps to Get Out of the Snow


How is a Recovery Strap Used?

  • The strap is attached to the back of a vehicle that will be used to recover the stuck transport. A strap will also be attached to the front of the transport that is being recovered. 
  • The strap will then be thread through the eye of the strap’s other end in order for the frame to be choked. 
  • It is important for the strap to not rub against any edges that are sharp. Anchor shackles can be used to further make the strap secure as well as to recover trapped vehicles. Once the recovery vehicle moves forward, the strap stretches itself and pulls free the trapped transport.
  • Recovery straps do not possess end-hooks as they are not meant to tow but to extract. These straps are designed to supervise strong adjustments in order to make tugs controllable and decrease recoil.
  • The straps’ stretchiness is made to collect the kinetic energy produced by tugging. Essentially, the ropes, not the vehicle, absorb the motion’s impact.
  • As soon as the straps are stretched to its full capacity, it will go back to its normal length. Its kinetic energy will then be imparted in a controlled manner towards the vehicle.

Recovery Strap


Ensure the Safety of Recovery Straps


Compared to chains, recovery straps are more safe, easy, and light to use. If straps are frayed, the possibility of them breaking increases. Colour-faded straps are also prone to break from continuous use. 

  • Straps need to be stored away from sunlight and strong heat
  • Though straps are able to function in cold temperature, they must not be exposed to temperatures that are more than 194 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cleaning the strap only requires that they are sprayed with water that is free from chemicals


What Are the Tow Straps?

Tow straps are made from polyester that has less stretch compared to recovery straps. They are used in the same manner as they are called. Tow straps are made for towing freely-moving transport vehicles behind another vehicle.

  • Tow straps possess end-metal hooks and are not meant to be used for recovering stuck vehicles due to them being less stretchy. Tow straps also break easily when subjected to recovery-related pressure.
  • Tow straps have the tendency to fly off if exposed to excess tension. As a result, they may cause injury to people standing nearby. 


Ensure the Safety of Tow Straps

Using straps requires obedience to all its instructions. Any straps that are cut, frayed or damaged must all be replaced. The rigging must also be inspected prior to off-roading.

  • The rigging must always be unloaded and inspected once the vehicle is serviced.
  • Similarly, tow straps and synthetic winch ropes must be kept out of the sun as they will be easily damaged by ultraviolet rays.
  • Straps and ropes should also be kept from oils, harsh chemicals as well as fuels.
  • Sand and mud must also be cleaned from the straps. Sand consists of granules that possess sharp edges. These can easily cut through fibers at microscopic levels thereby resulting in a decreased safe load rating.
  • Tow straps can be attached to a vehicle’s frame or bumper that is strong enough to manage forces produced by the force of being towed.

Tow Straps


Auto Recovery Straps vs Tow Straps, Which is Better?

  • Tow straps only need a pull rating that is more than the weight of the transport vehicle that is to be towed. When the strap’s rating is big, its safety factor is too. Tow straps should, therefore, be rated three times a vehicle’s weight. Plus, tow straps need to be only used to recover vehicles that are overturned.
  • Meanwhile, recovery straps require a bigger safety rating factor. These straps are specially made to stretch. The rule for sizing straps is that for every inch of width, the strap gains a strength of 10,000 pounds. Thus, a strap that is three inches wide has a rating of 30,000 pounds. When purchasing a recovery strap, make sure that you acquire one that is rated three times your vehicle’s weight.
  • Recovery straps can be used as tow straps. However, tow straps cannot be used as recovery straps. The former’s stretchable quality makes it versatile.
  • Both tow and recovery straps are made of various materials such as polyester and nylon. Both are stretchable and flexible as such features are required in order to halt damage to both users and the vehicle.
  • Recovery straps, also known as snatch straps and kinetic recovery ropes, do not have end-hooks. They are specially designed to pull a vehicle out via a small running start and not through an intense jerk. The kinetic energy stored in recovery straps allows them to stretch and recoil to their normal length.
  • Though recovery straps can be used for towing purposes, doing so is not at all recommended. They are also not advised to be used for overturned vehicles.
  • Tow straps have end-hooks and are designed to have a steady, smooth pull. It is mainly used to pull up a free-wheeling transport vehicle from one point to another without any jerking movement. 
  • Tow straps are not to be used to pull out any vehicle that has been stuck. The common tow strap length is 20 feet.
  • Essentially, tow straps are used to recover any vehicles that are overturned. 
  • Compared to recovery straps, tow straps are not as stretchable.



All in all, whatever strap you need to use, make sure that the item follows standard protocols of safety. Remember that straps can break or snap and even accidentally launch via air at a high speed. Therefore, people need to stand at a safe and far distance from the strap.

Selecting the correct strap size is similarly critical. Straps commonly come in two-inch widths to twelve-inch widths. Their strengths range anywhere from 20,000 pounds to 400,000 pounds. 

Be aware that understanding your needs helps you know which strap to use for which situation. Improper strap use leads not just to vehicle damage but hazardous situations that will waste time, energy, and precious resources. To know more contact Toronto Trailers today!

Related article: How to Care for Ratchet Straps

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