What Is the Difference Between Towing and Recovery?

by Chris Lewis.

Cars getting stuck in certain terrains are not that uncommon. In fact, this happens the most for the four-wheelers that try to tread on certain roads with tires that are not capable of treading on. And when they do get stuck in those terrains, two of the most go-to options are towing and recovering.

Both of the processes that we have mentioned above have a designated strap. One of them is known as a recovery strap, while the other is known as a tow strap.

And without knowing what is the difference between towing and recovery, it would be a bit difficult for you to make a purchase decision.

Well, that is why we are here for. We are going to go through each of the processes and talk about the straps that are available for both of them. Hopefully, by the end, you will have a clear idea about both of these and will be able to make an efficient decision.

Tow Straps

Tow Straps
Tow Straps

Let us first talk about the tow straps. These are mostly made of Dacron or polypropylene. Because of being made of those materials, these do not stretch. Also, there are some versions that would be of metal chains.

These will have two metal hooks on each of the ends. One of them will attach to the front vehicle while the other one will go on the vehicle that is disabled.


Just like the name suggests, tow straps are used to tow disabled vehicles. In this case, the disabled vehicle must be fully moving.

That means the four-wheeler must be in neutral mode and should not be stuck in any of the terrains.

The main purpose of towing a vehicle is to take the disabled vehicle to a repair station. Also, many might just use this process to relocate vehicles that are not usable anymore.


  • Can be used for relocating disabled vehicles
  • Easily accessible
  • Comes with strong metal hooks on both the sides
  • Easy to attach to vehicles
  • Different versions available


  • Can not be used for making recovery
  • Does not have any elastic characteristics

Recovery Straps

Recovery Straps
Recovery Straps

Recovery straps are also known as snatch straps. Unlike the tow straps, these are made of nylon or other elastic materials. Because of that, most of these can stretch up to 30 percent of their original size.

On that note, there are plenty of sizes available. Each of the sizes has a different load capacity. These will have two eye loops on each of the sides, which are used to attach them to vehicles.


As the label states, these are mainly used to recover a fully functional vehicle. There would be scenarios in which a fully functional would get stuck in muddy terrains. And that is where these will come into play.

Just like towing, you would need another vehicle that is not stuck. After attaching both of the loops on each of the cars, the unstuck vehicle would be able to recover the stuck vehicle.


  • Available in multiple sizes
  • Constructed of nylon material
  • Has elastic properties
  • Can stretch about 30 percent of the original size
  • Able to recover stuck vehicles from different terrains


  • Some of them have relatively weak attaching points
  • Not all of them are that resistant to water

Differences Between a Tow Strap and Recovery Strap

Differences Between a Tow Strap and Recovery Strap
Differences Between a Tow Strap and Recovery Strap

Now that you have a clear idea about both of the ropes, let us look at the differences between them. They are as follows:

  • Material

The first and the most obvious difference would be the material that both of these are of. While one of them is of nylon, the other one would be of chains or of polypropylene.

There are many tow straps that are of Dacron too. But no matter which recovery strap you get, it will be of nylon.

  • Elasticity

The other main factor that separates both of these is the elastic characteristic. On the one hand, the recovery straps are highly stretchy because of the material that they are constructed of. In fact, many of them can even stretch up to 30 percent while being under load.

On the other hand, the tow straps can not even stretch one bit. They are basically made of chains or polypropylene. None of those materials have any elastic characteristics.

  • Functionality

Lastly, the functionality of both of the straps is different. The recovery straps are used to recover a fully functional stuck vehicle. On the other hand, tow straps are to relocate a disabled and freely moving vehicle.

Even though you will be able to use the recovery strap for towing, you can’t use the tow strap to make recoveries. That is because they can not stretch, which is a must for recovering.



Hopefully, we were able to give you enough information regarding the topic “what is the difference between towing and recovery”.

To conclude, we hope that you now have a general idea about both of the straps and know the functionality of both.

About Chris Lewis.

Chris Lewis is a passionate individual with a deep affinity for the world of automobiles. From a tender age, his fascination with cars was nurtured by his father, a seasoned mechanic based in the vibrant city of San Francisco. Growing up under the watchful guidance of his skilled father, Chris developed an early aptitude for all things automotive.

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