Most of us have been there. Stuck on the side of the road with a car that won’t start, no matter what you try! Some people might solve the problem by phoning a towing service, but other people prefer to tow their cars home or to a repair shop themselves.
When you decide to tow your car yourself, it’s important to use a quality tow strap to ensure the safety of your own vehicle and everyone around you. Knowing a few key safety tips will guarantee everyone remains safe during the towing process!
It’s important to familiarise yourself with a few general safety tips regarding tow straps and the procedures around their use. That way, if you ever find yourself needing a tow or having to help someone, you’ll be prepared! Read on for some easy must-know tow strap safety tips!
The only thing worse than breaking down and needing to be towed is to have your rescuer show up with a strap that’s too short because it could result in a potential accident.
In general, a tow strap should be at least 20ft (6m) in length to provide the required distance between cars. The strap should also have loops and not hooks. In the unfortunate event that the strap snaps, the hook becomes a projectile that could cause serious injury to a person or vehicle.
Vehicles have varying weights which can be affected with the loads they’re carrying. Before towing it’s important to check if the strap you’re going to use will be strong enough to tow your vehicle.
Ideally, the vehicle doing the pulling should have a greater weight than the car that’s being towed. This makes the whole process so much easier. The strap used MUST be strong and durable enough to tow the car being towed. It’s important to make provision for any additional weight in the car.
Check the strap for any damages. No matter how urgent you need to get the car out of there, never use a strap that has any damages such as tears on it. Tow straps should be in perfect condition before any towing is attempted.
In a desperate attempt to get out of your stuck situation, you might think to hook the strap on and get going. It’s important however to take a few minutes to ensure everything is as safe as possible:
- Moving any debris such as sand, mud or snow away from the front of the tires will make pulling the car forward much easier.
- Make sure any tools used have been picked up and packed away.
If you’re towing or being towed for the first time, it’s important to follow the next few key steps.
- Placement: Position the vehicle doing the pulling directly in line with the stuck car. It’s crucial to keep the towing vehicle in a straight line with no more than 10 degrees variant. Never attempt side towing as this will cause serious damage to both vehicles.
- Attachment: Lay the tow strap down between the two vehicles to ensure it is long enough. Fit each end to the relevant vehicle on the necessary car fitting. Give each end a good, strong tug to make sure it’s properly attached. Never attach the strap directly to the vehicle as this can cause serious damage if it pulls loose.
- Space: If a vehicle is being pulled out of a ditch, ensure that any bystanders are standing away from the vehicle. No one must stand behind or to the sides. If the strap snaps, this can result in injury!
- Moving: The vehicle doing the pulling will accelerate slowly to create tension in the strap. Doing this will provide the required sustained pull necessary to start moving the stationary vehicle. A slow, steady momentum is the best option to keep both vehicles safe. During the process, the vehicle doing the towing will maintain tension to avoid any type of slack developing in the strap.
- Communication: Before the process, make sure the person in the vehicle in the car being towed asks the rescuer exactly what they’re going to do. This way you’ll know what to do when the next step in the process will happen. If you’re being towed on a national road, be sure to discuss the best route beforehand. That way you’ll know where you’re going. Avoiding busy roads will eliminate the risk of accidents.
No matter the condition or age of your vehicle, it’s always a great idea to keep a new, durable tow strap as part of your emergency kit. You might not break down or get stuck, but you could be instrumental in helping someone else out of a ditch!
If you do break down and you’re not comfortable being towed, be sure to ask the person you phone for help to bring a friend who’s familiar with the procedure to steer your car. Other than that, familiarising yourself with the procedure for towing and being towed will get you out of just about any stuck situation so much easier!