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4x4 Truck Recovery Techniques

'4x4 Recovery' is an acquired skill. Think safety at all times. DON'T GO FOR THE QUICK FIX. Give the recovery your best shot the first time. Otherwise you'll end up doing the extra work anyway and you'll have made the job more difficult by trying to save time and effort.

When something under the truck 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 truck 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, sand 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 truck 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 sand 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 truck and drive out SLOWLY.
Sand soaked in water. Found in some tidal regions of the beach.
You can't jack up the truck even with a spreader board. Shovel-holes are filled- in within seconds, traction mats get buried under the wheels. You need another truck to pull you back out. Don't waste time trying to sort it yourself.
4x4's locked together,both stuck
One truck got stuck, another tried to push it out of trouble

Next time, TOW, don't push. You'll need to use to jack up one truck 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 truck, fill in the hole with soil, stones etc and drive out.

A strap, tow rope or chain rated at twice the weight of the truck 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 truck. 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 trucks lights may be more useful than those of the recovery truck. It may require more than one tow manoeuvre e.g. it may be best to tow a truck 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 truck doing the towing for maximum effort and control.
If the truck 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 trucks.
If towing on a public road then remember you need to have the correct towing equipment.

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