If you have been a victim of car breakdown, you probably have a good idea of what tow straps are. Tow straps are made of long strands of very strong and toughened nylon with hooks from each end. Since they can be folded and are lightweight, they should be part of your vehicle’s emergency kit, especially if you live in areas where your car is likely to get stuck from mud or snow.
Having tow straps is one thing, knowing how to use them appropriately is the most important thing. When used correctly, they can be a lifesaver. If used incorrectly, they can cause damage to your car. Under tremendous strain, the straps or chain may fail.
Here are some basics to have in mind.
Attaching on the rear side
You will need to attach tow straps to the rear of the towing vehicle, mostly to some mounting point located near the rear bumper, or to the trailer hitch, which normally has steel hoops for mounting a hook. Any of these two positions will provide a lot of structural support for most towing operations.
Hooks should only be attached to one of the two secure locations, and nowhere else on the vehicle. Ensure the hook is properly secured and attached to the mount before you can proceed to the next step. You may use tow straps that come with clasps which ensures that the hooks won’t slip from the mount while in use.
Attaching on the other end
Before you can attach on the other end of the towing line of the vehicle you are towing, ensure that the straps are not twisted. Attach the other hook to the mounting hook that is located on the front of the vehicle being towed. There should be a tow hook or a strong steel loop that is mounted beneath the front bumper or closer to the center axle.
Starting the Pull
Now that you have both ends securely attached, you are ready to pull. If the vehicle being pulled is functioning, ensure the driver puts it in drive or first gear with the parking brake off. In case the vehicle towed is not functioning, it should be put in neutral gear. The driver on the towing vehicle should start by creeping forward very slowly until the tow strap is very tight. Do not try to get a running start as that is not how it works. Once the strap is tight, you can begin pulling the other vehicle.
While towing the vehicle, never hook a tow strap to anything that is not a solid steel hook mounted steadily onto the vehicles. Modern cars have their bumpers made of plastic and thin tin, so beware of the danger of damaging the bumper. Avoid rapid accelerations while towing. Sudden and abrupt tension could cause the strap to break or the hook to loosen from the mounting. You should never pull any unmanned vehicle. Additionally, never use tow traps on busy highways, in that case, opt for flatbed tow trucks.