Gear News

This is the worst 4X4 accessory we’ve ever seen

We have had a couple of people send us screenshots and links to what could be one of the dodgiest recovery items ever created. It’s a piece of equipment designed to make a dangerous operation more convenient, but not safer. A recovery method that claims lives every other year, made easy.

This piece of equipment is the “Tow Dawg”, from the good ol’ USA. Land of the brave, and foolhardy.

Don't use your tow ball for any recovery. It will break.
NEVER use a towball for a recovery, no matter what device you may have! The ball can shear off from the stem and become a deadly projectile

Okay, let’s digress a little. Sold attached to either a 2-ply or 4-ply strap, the tow dawg is a simple tow rope. It seems to be meant for slow, gentle ‘take up the strain’ style pulls. It probably works well moving cars around sealed roads. But not all’s well that means well. The moment the throttle is blipped or traction changes, stresses beyond the towball’s capabilities will be introduced, and that lands the now broken tow ball and Tow Dawg through your windscreen or back window, and maybe your head. There’s just too much risk for something to go wrong.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer and retailers claim the straps are rated at 31,000lbs (>14 tonnes) breaking strain and 10.333lbs (>4.5 tonnes) horizontal working load for the 2 ply strap and nearly twice as much for the 4-ply strap.

Anyone remember the Holden Colorado ads, two of, that have been cancelled over the years for showing chains attached to tow balls? Doesn’t matter if you’re pulling bogged tip trucks out of a stadium demolition site or ‘uprooting’ a plant from an obviously pre-dug hole, don’t ever use your tow ball with a strap or chain.

Want to use your towbar as a recovery point? Don’t use the ball at all. Remove the hitch completely, and use either the hitch pin or a recovery hitch and properly rated shackle.



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  • A good reminder. I noted how Russel Coite recently attached a thin wire rope to his tow ball to pull a tree over. Naturally it pulled the ball off just missing him in the staged segment. Unfortunately there was no safety explanation in the show

    • I also noticed every vehicle recovery was done using the towball too. Not sure if it was meant as a joke, but without the explanation I can see a lot of people thinking that that’s just the way to do it.

  • Is it possible to attach a rated “D” shackle to the tow ball end of the rope and then attach that “D” shackle to the correct tow point on the car? This should then prevent an accident.

    • It’s a good idea on the surface however there is a problem. That is, you have introduced another potential point of failure, and also increased the mass of metal that will slingshot back if something goes wrong. This is why soft shackles are a smart invention-they can fail the same as any other component in a recovery, but they weigh so little the damage they cause is substantially less than that of a steel shackle (or towball!). This is another reason why synthetic winch ropes are safer than steel winch cables-the synthetic materials do not possess the mass to cause serious harm.

  • The ACCC should ban the sale of this product. We have had a number of incidences over the years were tow balls have been used as snatch points on vehicles with catastrophic results, including a fatality. In another one the two ball went straight through the cab and out the back of a truck, missing the two occupants by inches.

  • Sadly equipment like this only assist the stupid becoming a static. No wounder we are so regulated, to protect idiots becoming stupid.
    Good recovery equipment cost more for a reason it’s tested rated and most of all safe.

  • “Tow Dawg”.
    Has anyone contacted the manufacturer or retailer and pointed out that they could be held responsible in the event of an injury or fatality. I have, successfully seen products removed from sale in response to a well worded letter.

  • “Tow Dawg,”
    This goes against all the principals of “Safe Recovery,” the tow-ball will most certainly become a projectile that will find it’s way back striking the intended recovered vehicle or it’s occupants. You are correct to say this device should never be used on the tow-ball as this will lead to a possible fatality. Thank you for sharing this information.

  • I’m not surprised that they thought this up in the USA, lets face it with a population of over 220 million odd people they can afford to lose a few.

      • As Warren said “over 220 million”… BTW how much is a tad?
        But it doesn’t matter how many people live in any country because as has been pointed out in the article it is a dangerous practice and I believe the loss or maiming of even one life should be avoided by education.

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