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4x4 Recovery Techniques

Of course, the best plan is not to get stuck in the first place and many times this can be avoided by being aware whe traction is being lost and taken whatever action seems appropriate to regain it. Often, reducing the power, gently varying the steering to gain traction or choosing a different route for the wheels will prevent you getting stuck. If, however forward motion ceases, then selecting low gear and gently reversing may get you out - at all costs you need to avoid wheeel spin. If wheel spin is unavoidable due to high torque, then the torque can be reduced by trying the same manoeuvre in higher gear. If you still have a problem then you need to stop making the situation worse by getting out of the vehicle and having a good look as to what the problem is.

'4x4 Recovery' is an acquired skill. Think safety at all times. Give the recovery your best shot first time. Otherwise you'll end up doing the extra work anyway and will have made the job more difficult by initially trying to save time and effort.

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When something under the vehicle raises it to remove traction from the wheels.
Happens on tracks with a high central ridge, crossing logs, rock crawling or sinking into sand.

If high-centred on snow with solid ground underneath then rocking the vehicle from side to side combined with heat from the transmission may compact/melt the snow sufficiently.
Sometimes you can back off. Do it very carefully. Somebody can feed stones, wood, Bridging ladders etc under a spinning wheel. Your best shot is to jack up each wheel enough to put good footing under it until you can drive away. This is what the high-lift jack is made for. Do it right first time!
Stuck in sand
Often because the tyre was not wide enough to spread the load of the vehicle and/or the tread was too aggressive. Sand tyres are advisable for desert crossing.
You'll probably need a long handled shovel . Jack up the wheels, pile sand underneath them and put Bridging ladders, floor mats, carpet, newspapers or whatever is to hand under the wheels to give the tyres some grip. If you have a pump, then reducing the tyre pressures by half will help to get traction. Make sure the approach angle to the wheels is gentle. Reduce the weight in the vehicle and drive out SLOWLY.
Sand soaked in water. Found in some tidal regions of the beach.
You can't jack up the vehicle even with a spreader board. Shovel-holes are filled- in within seconds, traction mats get buried under the wheels. You need another vehicle to pull you back out. Don't waste time trying to sort it yourself.
4x4's locked together,both stuck
One vehicle got stuck, another tried to push it out of trouble

Next time, TOW, don't push. You'll need to use something to jack up one vehicle to free it from the other first.
Wheel stuck in a hole

You weren't looking(?). The ideal is to walk there first in long grass or deep water.


Don't bend a track rod or put your wheel alignment out by trying to jump out of a deep hole. Jack up the vehicle, fill in the hole with soil, stones etc or cover it with a
Bridging ladder and drive out.

A strap, tow rope or chain rated at twice the weight of the vehicle is good. Remember that a steady pull is rarely guaranteed. It's the sudden jolt that breaks the towing gear. Nylon ropes and straps absorb some of the initial load, preventing sudden potentially damaging jolts. Chains and cables are heavy to handle and carry. Anchor the rope to the chassis, not the suspension. Make sure no sharp edges can can damage the rope.
TALK your plan through carefully with the other driver and stick to
it. It is best for the towing 4x4 to tow in reverse if safe to do so. That way the recovery driver can clearly see what is happening to the stuck vehicle. Do whatever you can to reduce the effort needed for the pull e.g. wheel alignment, removing obstacles, digging out approach ramps. At night, other vehicles lights may be more useful than those of the recovery vehicle. It may require more than one tow manoeuvre e.g. it may be best to tow a vehicle along a ditch to where it can be more safely towed out of it. Plan it. Talk it over. Generally, the tow rope should be at right angles to the vehicle doing the towing for maximum effort and control.
If the vehicle being towed out can be started then a LITTLE power will help the recovery; spinning the wheels will not. Nobody should be close to or between the two vehicles.
If towing on a public road then remember you need to have the correct towing equipment.

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