Tow Bar vehicle recovery is dangerous!



Never use the tow ball for recovery. You never know before, how much power will be necessary. In the Article is not just pictures and videos about what can happen... You find links to deadly accidents too.

Don`t use the tow-ball for vehicle recovery

The article is too available in german language.

Be always careful with 4x4 recoverys - just use gear who is rated for that purpose.

Hmmm only or mostly Australian articles... Australians have an obsession with tow balls as recovery points. The industry has made big $$$ from selling "rated recovery points", though it is up to the buyer how he attaches them to the vehicle. As someone said before, most 4wd clubs are very strict on rated recovery points but don't think twice about attachment. Nice shiny red rated point duct taped to chassis rail would likely pass most inspections.

I tow a horse float regularly so I would not think twice using the towball as attachment point if son's Corolla gets stuck on wet grass. I would however check the "rated recovery point's" connection to the chassis (quality and condition of bolts), condition of chassis (rusted, bent, cracked?), spread the load over two such recovery points, minimise number of shackles and other potentially flying heavy objects and put a damper on the strap if I were to pull mate's 3 ton Cruiser sitting on its chassis rails in a couple feet of mud.

As mentioned above: make sure everything you are using is properly rated, properly attached, in good condition and able to safely take the expected load. Also use the accessory between the ears when planning and executing a tow.


Well-known member
I tow a horse float regularly so I would not think twice using the towball as attachment point if son's Corolla gets stuck on wet grass.
exactly, zero load, I pull logs with a chain off the tow ball but I would never use it as a winch point or for a snatch strap
what accessory do speak of ??


Expedition Leader
If someone yanks me that hard I'm gonna be pissed. Dangerous yes but no one except the drivers should be any near a strap or cable at any time.


Expedition Leader
I have mixed feelings about this.....

On the tow ball test video that is often sighted.

The amount of abuse the original tow hitch and ball takes is AMAZING. I'd love to see a similar 'approved' recovery point take similar abuse without failing.
My gut feeling is that if you abuse ANY recovery point that much, it would fail in just as catastrophic a manner.

The worse part about a tow ball, in my opinion, is the 'open' attachment point. This can potentially allow the strap to slip off in the middle of the recovery, especially if you are having to take multiple attempts. I would give the same marginal rating to any open tow hook also. On the other side of things, open systems are quicker to attach and generally have less mass in the system.
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Middle Income Semi-Redneck
That's a seriously flawed and misleading test.
More credible discussion:

Skip to about 7 min here:
Sometimes he does things that worry me, like walking under trucks bridging sink holes.

But he seems to me to try balancing being safe with getting things done. He's being paid to get people out without throwing boat loads of money into it by using a 4wd heavy wrecker to do it. Compared to some other Youtube videos I don't get the feeling he's just a good ol' boy trying to break stuff.

I've always been told "Don't use tow balls" and I've followed it religiously but never thought about it really. His receiver/ball argument is pragmatic when he says that compared to other places to hook on modern unibody vehicles it's at least rated sufficient to tow. That's not something you can say about the rest of the car. One of his hooks could easily just tear through most places on the chassis.

Now I'm not going to start using tow balls and will continue to advise against it should anyone happen to suggest it, though. I think the real danger isn't theoretical here but practical, the rope isn't retained in a closed eye connection and can slip off pretty easy (which is mostly inconvenient I think). There's question about the fastener being torqued or corroded. Ronny Dahl cutting the one halfway is a valid in the sense that if you use some random old draw bar it might be rusted and compromised. But that's true of any tow point really. A clevis or pintle held on with 4 rusty bolts isn't any more safe necessarily, although 4 failures cascading is less likely than one.

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