18th July, 2012

Dear ARB,

We have recently caught the 4WD bug and are planning a three month trip to the National Parks of Northern Territory in our 100 Series and camper trailer. We are not the adventurous type looking to make our own tracks, but believe in being prepared and carrying some basic equipment. While we don’t have a winch, we do have an ARB snatch strap and were wondering if that could suffice as a tow rope if we get into difficulties. 

Yours sincerely, 

Prue and Peter Lewis

Prue and Peter,

Ideally, snatch straps are not designed to be used as a tow rope. Sure, when you are recovering a stranded vehicle you are actually towing the vehicle out of a situation, however this is only for a very short distance and with the strap taut. In an application where the vehicle may be towed for a much greater distance, as the lead vehicle slows down, inevitably there will be some delay in the reaction of the driver of the towed vehicle and the strap will slacken and fall to the ground, only to be dragged until tension is taken up again. Depending on the road surface, in a very short span of time the strap can become frayed and damaged causing it to lose strength. The next time the strap is used as a snatch strap and subjected to much greater forces, it is likely to fail at the point of damage.

So in an emergency yes, it could be used for towing but you should consider replacing it before using it as a snatch strap again. It is also worth checking with state authorities as to the legality of towing a vehicle on the highway with a ‘tow rope’ as it can be inherently dangerous if the towed vehicle has no engine power to assist braking.

Great to see you have caught the bug guys! There would be nothing better than spending three months in the Top End this time of year.

Mark ‘Lowmount’ Lowry
(Manager – Product Development & Evaluation)