The ultimate guide to rated recovery points

When was the last time you got stuck? Have you ever had to use your recovery points? There’s a good chance you have (whether its to pull someone out, or get recovered!) at some stage.

4WD recoveries have gone pear shaped many times, and there are a number of things you can do to reduce the chance of something going wrong.

For a full list of deaths involving 4WD recoveries in Australia, check out 4WD recovery deaths in Australia.

Rated Recovery Points have a stamp for what they are good to tow, and they need to be mounted properly.

4WD Recovery points
How would you safely recover this?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen people hook a snatch strap up to a tie down point, or throw it over a tow ball. These are just two of the practices that lead to people getting killed, or seriously injured. To start with, here are 20 things you should never do in a 4WD recovery.

Tie down points

Tie down points are designed for just that; tying onto. They are not designed to use with an 11,000 pound snatch strap, and are known to break off and fly through the air at a million miles an hour. When you compare a rated recovery point to a tie down point the difference is pretty obvious.

Tie down points are made out of thin steel that is not intended to take sudden loading! Have a look at how it bolts to the chassis; if it’s just two 8mm bolts then it most certainly isn’t rated for recoveries!

How do you know if its rated?

The vehicle manufacturer is a good place to start, or there are a myriad of forums online that you can go to and see what other people have done with their vehicles.

If it doesn’t look very solid, there’s a good chance it isn’t! Rated recovery points are stamped on the hook or plate themselves, and are built considerably bigger and stronger.

Load tested recovery point
Make sure it is tested and stamped

How is the recovery point bolted on?

The next thing to consider is how the recovery point is attached to the vehicle. I’m going to say if it doesn’t have at least two M12 bolts (the shank is 12mm wide) going into the chassis, it’s not strong enough. Look at the hex head of the bolts, and make sure it says 8.8.

This is the grade of the bolt, and means that it is high tensile and will take considerably greater force to break than a standard bolt.

High tensile bolts 4WD recovery
Are you using high tensile bolts?

There’s no point having a nice rated recovery point on your four wheel drive if the chassis tears apart, or the bolts break on the first recovery. These things might seem finicky, but they have the potential to cause serious injury or death, and should be treated with the utmost of respect.

Hooks or recovery plate

Probably the most commonly used recovery points are the hooks, which are mostly rated to 10,000 lb (4535kg). These should be used in tandem with an equalizer strap if possible.

Hooks are great because they allow you to attach a snatch strap without the use of a shackle. I would recommend the hooks over bent angle or plate, purely because of this.

Rated recovery hook
You don’t need shackles with hooks

Who makes 4WD recovery Points?

Probably the most well known are Roadsafe recovery points, but you can also get them from ARB, TJM, Ironman, Supercheap Auto, Repco and plenty more.

Rated recovery point
A rated Roadsafe Recovery Point

How to install recovery points

The installation of recovery points is normally quite simple, and anyone with a general understanding of mechanics should be able to do it.

However, the bolts need to be done up correctly, and its a good idea to get it checked over by a professional. The most important thing is the bolt grade used, and the torque applied to each bolt.

Is your vehicle rated for recovery?

Interestingly, 4WD manufacturers will not give you any paperwork documenting the fact that your 4WD is suitable for recovery.

I suppose it has to do with liability, so remember in the eyes of your vehicle manufacturer, you are not covered for recovering with the vehicle.

That said, it has been common practice for years, and when done safely with the right gear you won’t have any issues.

Winching or snatch strap 4x4
Winch or snatch strap?

Snatch strap or winching?

Every recovery is different, and you need to make a call based on the individual recovery. Snatch straps are great for many applications, but just remember they rely on the build-up of energy to work.

If it breaks, you have a considerably greater amount of force involved than that of a winch. Winches will pull slowly, and have a much greater level of control.

Whichever way you go, take it easy! There’s no need to get a 10 metre run up when you are snatching another vehicle out the first time. Start off with a gentle pull, or about 1 metre of slack strap.

From there, increase length of run up (if safe) until the vehicle comes out. Likewise with winches, if the vehicle is seriously stuck, consider a double line pull and anchor the winch vehicle to a tree or another vehicle.

Snatch straps are not designed for every 4WD recovery. They can be extremely dangerous, so When should you use a snatch strap?

Snatch strap down south
When should you use a snatch strap?

Rear recovery points

If you don’t have a rear recovery point, one of the most common is known as a hitch receiver recovery point.

These are just a block of steel that slides into your rear hitch, with a shackle that bolts through. They are strong, versatile and give you a recovery point in the middle of your vehicle.

It is important to note that they need to be rated as well, and will usually take a 4500kg shackle.

You need to remove your tow ball hitch to use these, and if you find you have a stuck hitch, there’s a few remedies.

Rated rear recovery point
These are a great option for rear recoveries

Hitch receiver recovery points

I’m often asked what modifications should be done before you venture off-road in a 4WD, and I always suggest that you make sure the vehicle has at least one rated recovery point on the front and the rear of the vehicle.

The reason is simple; you will get stuck one day, and you may not have the luxury of a recovery in the direction of where your points are attached!

On the rear of your 4WD, a lot of people install hitch receiver recovery points (about $45) which work very well. These are the most common rear recovery point that you will see.

Rated hitch receiver
A rated hitch receiver recovery point

Check your recovery points

4WD’s are exposed to some pretty nasty conditions, and need to be inspected regularly. I’ve pulled a few recovery points off different 4WD’s to find that the bolts were 50% rusted away, or they were bent badly.

If you don’t know what condition your recovery points are in, it pays to remove them and inspect them. At the end of the day, they are cheap compared to other modifications so don’t hesitate to bin them and replace them with a new set.


If you see someone throw a strap over a tow ball for a 4WD recovery, please pass on how dangerous it is. Tow balls in 4WD recoveries kill people. They are designed to tow trailers, and do not take the sudden sheer load applied when used in a 4WD recovery.

They have been responsible for a number of deaths across the world, when they break off and fly through the air faster than you can even see.

If you have no recovery point, the best option is to remove the hitch, slide the strap into the hitch receiver and put the pin through the holes (and through the strap). Remember to put the R clip back in place too.

Tow ball 4WD Recovery
Tow Balls are not safe for 4WD recoveries!

4WD Recoveries without a recovery point

Every now and again you do come across someone stuck with no recovery points. This makes a recovery very difficult and potentially dangerous, so take the time to consider what can be done.

Most 4WD’s have tow bars, and this is one way you can safely recover them. Simply remove the tow hitch (regardless of the tow hitch types), slide the snatch strap into the hitch receiver and put the pin and R clip back in. This is done regularly without any problems.

However, if the vehicle is seriously bogged, you risk bending the pin which makes it a mission to ever remove it again. Also, tow bars vary in strength and how they are bolted on, so just have a look before you attempt the recovery.

The bottom line

Ultimately, you are responsible for making sure that your 4WD recoveries are done safely. All it takes is a few extra seconds looking over the situation, finding out what recovery points are available and what the options are, and then executing it with a bit of thought.

Too many people have been killed or seriously injured from 4WD recoveries gone wrong, so let’s work on safe recoveries!

Safe 4WD recovery
Make your 4WD recoveries safe!

If you’ve seen recoveries done in a dangerous manner, let me know below!

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  1. Hi Mick,

    I probably wouldn’t snatch them, period. Maxtrax or another traction board would work just as well, with no risk and its probably quicker to set up too.

    There are times where you’d be able to go around the chassis, or parts of a bull bar, but unless you have a good understanding of steel strengths I would not be going down that path. I’ve witnessed bull bars come flying off vehicles.

    All the best

  2. If you come across another vehicle that needs to be recovered (from the front), and they don’t have any recovery points mounted on the front, where would be the most suitable place to snatch from? Cheers

  3. Hey Geoff,

    Yep, I agree. It’s OK for a gentle pull, but for a serious recovery there are better first options

    All the best

  4. Snatching should be absolutely last resort due to how dangerous it is. Unfortunately, it seems to have become a standard first option recovery method.

  5. Hi Franco,

    They aren’t cheap! You would get away with one, but just be wary of heavy recoveries as it can stress your chassis out pretty badly. Have you shopped around at different places?

    All the best

  6. Franco Conversano says:

    Hi there. I have just got my first 4wd and looking at getting recovery points. As they are quite pricey, I was just wondering in your opinion what would be the most necessary to get? I will mostly be doing sand driving to start so would one front point be sufficient for the time being or is two a must?

  7. Hi Jacob,

    Do you have a tow bar? If not, you’ll have to find a recovery point that attaches safely to the chassis, or get yourself a tow bar.

    You can buy the generic 4500kg hooks, but the hole centres likely won’t line up. Alternatively, one of the cheapest and easiest ways is to cut a piece of heavy duty flat bar and drill out holes that match the rear of the chassis, but this needs some engineering considerations.

    All the best

  8. Jacob Rutherford says:

    Hi there. I have a toyota surf and I dont have a hitch reciever to put a rear recovery point in. What options do I have? Cheers

  9. Hi Alex,

    Your tow bar will be the weakest link. Out of curiosity, what vehicle is it with such a low rating? You could get an engineer to look at it and see how much its actually safe to pull. You may find the tow bar is de-rated to suit the vehicles ability rather than the actual tow bar and chassis strength.

    Either way, I would be wary of any serious recoveries off it.

    All the best

  10. Interesting article, very helpful for setting up my vehicle for some more 4wding. Thanks heaps.

    However, I needed some further insight in this. I have a 20 year old 4wd, with a towbar installed since new, which has a 1200kg towing capacity. It is professionally installed and there is no rust and the M12 bolts look fine. Assuming I have a 4.7tonne rated hitch receiver as a recovery point, is the towbar itself up for the task safely?
    I can’t seem to find a specification somewhere as to what towing capacity a towbar needs to have to be a safe recovery point when adding a hitch receiver.


  11. Hey Warren,

    ARB will sell rated front recovery points, but sit down when you get a price. Roadsafe may also have some options for you.

    The factory points and the holes in the bull bar are not suitable for snatching.

    Above all else, use a bridle strap to distribute the load between two points.

    All the best

  12. Have been reading articles about recovery points, my 1997 doesn’t have any in the front, got rid of the old tow bar and replaced it with the Reese Hitch for snatching someone if needed, now comes the front, it has a new ARB roo bar with a winch but nothing to snatch with, would One of those hooks be ok? not into bush bashing etc, just fishing, and occasionally may head to the Hills in Dwellingup, not to bash but take the grand daughter to see our amazing bush around the area,

  13. Hey Chris,

    You wouldn’t bend a pin in a hitch receiver, as the metal physically stops it from bending. As for the trailer analogy; this is where people go wrong. A maximum trailer weight of 3500kg wouldn’t ever apply much more than that.

    Snatch straps are rated for 8000kg, 9000kg, and 11,000kg. Why do you think they are so high? The forces involved in a snatch recovery can be, and often are hugely greater than that of towing a trailer.


  14. Chris BSomething says:

    Hi, so do you reckon a particular force that could bend the pin wouldn’t bend the same pin when it is holding in the hitch receiver? I’m not sure, I guess that could be true. I’m surprised you say they bend easily when they are supposed to hold a 4 ton trailer to the car.

  15. Hey Chris,

    You are partly correct. You can use the pin, and its perfectly safe to do so. However, these bend fairly easily, and believe me you are going to have a hard time removing a bent pin.

    The hitch receiver is much easier to use when you are stuck in mud or water; no mucking around with R pins etc. They also prevent the pin from bending.

    As a result of the above, it’s recommended for those who are regularly 4WDing to get a hitch receiver.

    You’d have a hard time breaking a hitch receiver – its solid steel.


  16. Chris BSomething says:

    You don’t need a hitch receiver recovery point. Take out the tow bar if fitted, and put the recovery strap around the pin that holds in the tow bar. If it’s strong enough to hold in the hitch receiver recovery point, then it’s strong enough to snatch off of directly. The hitch receiver recovery point is heavy, it’s one more thing to carry, it’s one more thing to go wrong.