Following on from last weeks post, where we covered 20 things you should never do in a 4WD recovery, I've decided to post some information regarding the Rear recovery hitch; a cheap, solid and safe way of recovering your 4WD.
Most 4WD's come with tow bars on the rear. The problem though, is they don't come with Rated recovery points. Before you head off road, you need at least one rated recovery point on the front of your vehicle, and one on the rear.
What's a rated recovery point?
A rated recovery point is a hook, loop or angle that bolts to your chassis, and is rated for towing, snatching and winching. It is not the tie down points that most 4WD's come from, which are used to hold the vehicle down whilst being transported. Recovering off these is a bad idea!
Rated recovery points are stamped with their safe working load, which is usually 4500kg or 10,000 lb. If it isn't stamped, or the bolts are not grade 8.8, don't use it for 4WD recoveries.
Why do I need them?
There's a good chance you are going to get bogged at some stage. Please don't tell me it won't, because it will, in time! It might not be on your first adventure off road, but it will happen eventually. When it does, you need a way of recovering your 4WD safely, without damaging it, or anyone involved in the recovery. Having a rated recovery point on the front and the rear is important, as you may not be able to get to both sides of the vehicle that needs recovering. At least with one point on each end of the 4WD you have an option!
The rear recovery hitch
The most common rated recovery point for 4WD's on the rear is known as a recovery hitch. It is basically a big lump of steel with a rated shackle, which slides into your tow bar and is secured by the tow pin. These are only about $50 and are extremely versatile. You don't need to bother getting other rated recovery points; these are fantastic.
Please take a second to inspect your tow bar too; how is it bolted to the chassis? If it looks like its on the weaker side, get someone who is qualified to look over it. You don't want to rip the entire tow bar off!
Where can I get one from?
Most 4WD shops sell these, or you can buy them online from eBay.
Can't I just recover off the pin?
Well, yes, you can, and many people do. However, these recovery hitches have a number of advantages. They are stronger, and prevent the pin from bending. If you bend your pin, you are going to have a fun time getting it out. They are also much easier, and simple. Have you ever tried to hook a snatch strap up to the pin when you are standing in half a meter of filthy mud? It's pretty well impossible. At least with the recovery hitches, all you need to do is undo the shackle, hook the strap on and do it back up. Even that is hard enough when you are buried in mud or stuck in a big puddle.
However you choose to fit out your 4WD, make sure you are safe when it comes to 4WD recoveries. There have been a number of people killed in Australia by recoveries gone wrong, and it's something we need to change. Take your time, consider the setup and whether its safe, and use equipment that is designed for the job. Your life is not worth trading for a stuck 4WD!