How To Correctly Use A Kinetic Tow Rope

A kinetic tow rope is a long, heavy-duty rope which can be used for towing and pulling vehicles when stuck. They are used for emergencies rather than long-term towing and are a useful piece of equipment to have if there is a problem for you or another driver on the road. Kinetic recovery ropes are designed to be able to stretch in order to smoothly transfer the kinetic energy of the recovery vehicle to the vehicle which is stuck.

When pulling a stuck vehicle with a tow rope, this must be done with consideration, care, and the correct equipment, otherwise, the situation can become dangerous for both the stuck vehicle and the recovery vehicle. This blog will explain where to buy rope, the variety available from rope manufacturers, how to fit it to both vehicles, and how to successfully use a tow rope to rescue a stuck vehicle to safety.

Why Use A Kinetic Tow Rope

A kinetic tow rope is an incredibly valuable tool for any vehicle owner, and the design of the rope itself is inventively elasticated, reducing the risk of damage for the stuck and recovery vehicle, as momentum is created without damaging the towing apparatus or carbine hooks, even when the rope is taut. The best quality kinetic ropes even feature soft eyes at each end in order to further reduce the chance of damaging any vehicles involved.

When using a chain or a cable to tow a vehicle, the kinetic energy is transferred so rapidly that it reaches a peak load and snaps, causing damage. But with strong nylon material, a tow rope can absorb shock loads, will return to its original length after being stretched, whilst also having good abrasion resistance and can last much longer than natural fibres.

The elasticity of a kinetic tow rope also ensures that the ropes themselves are less likely to break. This durability makes a kinetic tow rope a cost-effective purchase, and one where buying a good quality rope can pay dividends. Not only this, but kinetic ropes are very versatile, with options varying from 3-strand ropes to stronger 8-strand ropes, as well as a choice in diameters and lengths depending on the recovery situation at hand.

Choosing A Tow Rope

Any good rope manufacturer should offer a range of options, so you can specify the ropes to perfectly fit your towing requirements. For example, this 8 Strand Nylon Kinetic Recovery Tow Rope from Rope Services UK is available with diameters of 16mm, 18mm, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 32mm, and 40mm, and this choice defines the strength of the rope. This rope also has a variety of length options, ranging from 4 to 15 metres. On-road tow ropes are commonly around 4 metres in length, but for vehicle recovery, a longer rope can be incredibly useful, as it gives a more comfortable tow and is less likely to damage your vehicle. However, be sure to consider the size of the vehicle you’re towing before purchasing a long rope with a large diameter, as a rope can be so big it loses the ‘bungee effect’, diminishing the kinetic energy created, making it feel more like a steel cable in terms of its lack of stretch.

Other Options

Beyond kinetic tow ropes, there are other recovery options. For example, towing straps are great at towing free-moving, rather than stuck vehicles. Taking up less space than kinetic tow ropes, towing straps are handy for tasks such as helping to pull a vehicle up a steep hill or over an obstacle. Winch lines are another option, but are perhaps less versatile than a kinetic tow rope, for example, as they necessitate a winch mechanism on your vehicle’s bumper. This adds weight to an already heavy vehicle and can have adverse effects on brake performance, acceleration, and cornering speeds. They can be very dangerous if broken, yet can be more precise in vehicle recovery. Consider the recovery job in hand, and in this situation, a kinetic tow rope is most applicable for towing a stuck vehicle.

Preparation For Towing

Ensuring that you have a suitable tow rope that is of the correct size and diameter (big enough not to break and small enough to effectively maintain kinetic energy), you can now begin to attach the kinetic tow rope to both the stuck and recovery vehicles. Before you begin towing, there are some valuable points to remember:

  • An ‘On Tow’ sign needs to be placed on the back of the towed vehicle.
  • If the distance between the two vehicles is more than 1.5 metres, the rope must be clearly visible. One way to easily do this is by tying a coloured flapping cloth in the middle. This will not only help other road users but will also ensure that you can consistently see where the rope is at all times.
  • The person in the stuck vehicle must be a qualified driver.
  • The broken-down vehicle must have its lights on if it’s dark – as if it were driving under normal circumstances.

Once you’ve met this set criteria, the next step should be to clear obstructions from the path of the stranded vehicle, so that it has a clean and easy route out. You should also make sure to clear the area of any bystanders, with a good rule of thumb being that no person should be within 1.5 times the rope length of either vehicle – unless they are inside one of the vehicles. It’s also good to carefully consider the distance between both vehicles, as it depends on the length of the rope. The gap needs to be far enough that the rope is pulled tight, but also be fully extended with no hidden knots that can cause snagging.

Attaching The Rope

Ensure that you have a proper tow point or shackle, as well as carbine hooks, as recovery points should be properly welded or bolted to the vehicle chassis for maximum strength, and all towing equipment should never be damaged or corroded in any sort of way.

It is also important to remember to never connect recovery equipment to a tow ball, as they aren’t designed for this sort of load, and can lead to serious damage to your vehicle. It is vital to connect the tow rope to the official towing points for the specific model of your vehicle. You can find details of these in the vehicle’s owner’s manual – tow points are usually concealed behind a cover, so you’ll need to remove these open to connect the rope or bar.

Towing The Vehicle

Both drivers should establish a signalling system before towing commences – this can be a certain toot of the horn or a hand gesture, and clearly signals when you both need to stop. As the towing process can often be arduous and might take multiple attempts, it is vital that you take everything slow and steadily to avoid making the situation worse. Brute force isn’t effective, and a good rule to follow is never to exceed 15mph.

If you’re the driver towing the vehicle, use the clutch to pull away smoothly, as yanking the rope rapidly can cause the rope to break. You should also avoid sudden breaking as the towed vehicle might not be able to react in time, instead tapping the brakes gently to warn them that you’re stopping. Check your mirrors consistently, as well as your vehicle’s gauges (most importantly temperature and oil pressure), whilst taking corners slowly and with space, all in an effort to make the towing process smooth and controlled. Trying to avoid any sudden changes of direction or movements, as the towed vehicle will find it difficult to both steer and brake with you.

If you happen to be controlling the vehicle that is being towed, you should ensure the handbrake is off and the car is in neutral for maximum control. Reaction speeds are crucial, as you’ll need to match every movement of the towing vehicle closely for a clean recovery. A useful tip is to try and keep some tension in the tow rope at all times – this is where the kinetic energy can be most effectively used. This can be done by pressing the brakes gently when the line starts to become slack, and this will smoothen moments of snagging, whilst preventing damage to the tow rope.

About Us

Rope Services UK was formed in 1991 and specialises in the manufacture and supply of Traditional and Modern Fibre Ropes, Twines and Cordage products. Based in North East England, we have acquired valuable expertise from our years of experience as a rope manufacturer and can provide you with bespoke natural and synthetic fibre roping solutions, whatever your needs. If you’re looking for where to buy rope, contact us at [email protected] or call us at 44 191 584 2709.

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