These Mannequins Died to Show You How Dangerous Tow Balls Can Be

Illustration for article titled These Mannequins Died to Show You How Dangerous Tow Balls Can Be
Screenshot: Ronny Dahl (YouTube)
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A snatch strap is one of the most useful tools in an off-roader’s arsenal. It’s much lighter and cheaper than a winch, but can be just as effective when pulling somebody out of a bog. Unfortunately, people like to use them with tow balls. This video will show you why that’s a terrible idea.

In case you need a quick trip to the glossary: a tow ball is that little spherical protuberance of a trailer hitch that allows a trailer to hang on to your truck. Many can handle a whole lot of weight, as long as it’s rolled on steadily. Sudden forces, like the kind applied by a snatch strap, can cause a tow ball to shear and become a projectile.


A snatch strap is an extremely robust semi-elastic rope that harnesses kinetic energy to yank something heavy. If one truck is free and one is stuck in the sand, you could hook snatch straps up to both, drive the free truck to get the right amount of momentum, and snap the stuck truck free as the strap got tight.

The whole process can be a little nerve-racking, since you’re dealing with huge amounts of weight and stress forces. When you introduce a tow ball to this equation, you’ve got a very dangerous weak point, as Australian off-road pro Ronny Dahl explains in the clip.

If you’re interested in how to use a snatch strap correctly, just watch the video to the end! Stay safe out there.

Hat tip to Patrick!

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles


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They also happen to completely destroy shins in parking lots, but you don’t need a mannequin to tell anyone that, just a dummy (ouch).