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Towing Stuck 4WheelDrive Truck Safety - Safe Wheeling

Posted in How To on August 1, 2009
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We witnessed this one at Winter Fun Fest some years back. Unfortunately, the driver didn't realize his teenage kid had hooked the winch cable this way. The result was a damaged cable and bumper.

Keeping with this month's theme of towing, we thought it was appropriate to delve into the topic of properly towing a stuck, dead or otherwise non-drivable rig while off-pavement. It happens to everyone. You're driving along enjoying the challenge Mother Nature presented you with when some little mechanical gremlin sneaks up and bites you. It could be as simple as a broken roll pin on a distributor gear. Whatever the culprit, you can't fix it in a timely manner, especially while blocking the trail. So, you ask a buddy or stranger to give you a tug over to the side to ensure that others can get by while you address the problem. Your volunteer gets out a tow rope or maybe even a winch cable, but you fail to inspect what type of anchoring device he has on the back of his rig. You assume his preferences for attachment methods are as high as yours. You allow the guy to attach the strap, winch hook, or whatever he happened to have handy, to what you assume is a safe anchoring point on each rig. You probably know where this is headed...

Although this particular extraction was carried out without a hitch (pun intended), we highly recommend you find another means of attachment instead of using the hitch ball. The potential for the strap to slip off is high, and who knows what kind of carnage might result. Besides, how hard would it have been to simply slide the receiver hitch out and fasten the end of the tow strap to the hitch pin?

The point of this scenario is to demonstrate that each vehicle's owner is equally responsible for whatever happens next. By simply assuming that the other guy has the situation under control, you, too, are contributing to the potential outcome. Towing a dead rig requires a little forethought. Improper anchors or attachment methods can be extremely dangerous. Injury, property damage and even death can result from a simple oversight. We see it done the wrong way often, and with the recent downturn in the economy, fewer and fewer people are arming their rigs with the proper tools to do the job right. Take it from us, a dollar saved by reusing that old tattered towrope isn't worth the outcome of a mishap it might cause. Do yourself a favor; get the right equipment before you tow.

Don't have what you need in your boonie bag? Beg, borrow or ask those around you if you don't have the necessary equipment to do it right. A little humility goes a long way on the trail. If you don't have acceptable attachment points on either end of your rig, get creative, or dirty, if necessary. A strap wrapped around a solid front or rear axle is a much better attachment method than a winch cable around a bumper. Last but not least, inform others around you about what you intend to do. This is the single most effective tool you have to avoid injury. If onlookers are standing in a spot that may become dangerous should a winch cable snap, or tow rope slip off, then let them know. In most cases, folks will heed your warnings and move to a safer location. Remember, safety on the trail is everyone's responsibility. Don't take chances, take action.

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