Ram 1500/2500/3500 Owners & Service Manuals

Ram 1500/2500/3500: Vehicle Recovery

If you drive off-road, you may encounter a situation where you will need to recover your vehicle. Vehicle recovery should always be given consideration before attempting a questionable obstacle. You should never go off-road driving without the ability to recover your vehicle from a situation. Having another vehicle with you usually works best for most situations. The first thing to do is assess the situation. Why are you stuck? Are you hung up on something? Would it be easier to go forward or to go backward? Can you still move the vehicle? Is there an anchor point to winch to? Are you alone or do you have another vehicle to help? Is there high risk of vehicle damage during the recovery process? Answering these questions will help you determine the best method of recovery. If you can still move the vehicle slightly and the only issue is slick ground, then rock cycling your vehicle would be the first choice. If you have ample room, an additional vehicle and there is low risk of vehicle impingement on the surroundings, then using a tow strap to the vehicle tow hooks would be fast and easy. If the vehicle is severely hung up or in a situation where great care needs to be taken during the recovery, then nothing can do the job better than a winch. If you are severely hung up on something you should jack the vehicle up and stack something under the wheels to allow the vehicle to roll off the object without causing further damage. This should be tried before attempting any recovery method.

CAUTION! Pulling the vehicle off an obstacle, without first clearing the object, may result in additional underbody damage.

  • Rock Cycling Your Vehicle - Rock cycling your vehicle is one of the easiest, fastest and most commonly used methods. This simply involves shifting your vehicle from DRIVE to REVERSE, while applying throttle after each shift. During this process, for additional traction, try turning your steering wheel quickly left and right no more than a ¼ turn. If you are stuck in mud, sand, or snow try spinning your tires during this process to clean the debris from the tread and improve the traction. You want to create a rocking motion with the vehicle. This helps build vehicle momentum, which hopefully gets you out. Remember to ease off and on the accelerator before and after the shift. If after a few rock cycles your vehicle is not free, stop and try another method of recovery. Continuous rock cycling will only cause unnecessary damage to your vehicle and the environment.

CAUTION! Damage can occur when spinning your tires at an excessive high speed. Do not spin your tires faster than an indicated 30 mph (48 km/h).

  • Using The Tow Hooks With A Tow Strap - Tow straps are a quick and easy way to recover your vehicle from minor situations if you have a secondary vehicle which is not stuck. The tow hooks on your vehicle are designed to take the abusive force generated during vehicle recovery. Do not use the bumper or any other vehicle component as an attachment point. Using tow straps requires coordination between the two drivers.

    Good communication and line of sight are required for a safe recovery. First connect the tow strap to the correct attachment points on both vehicles. There should be a least 20 to 30 feet between the vehicles to allow for a safe recovery. If necessary join two tow straps together using a 1 ½ inch hard wood dowel.

    This will keep the straps from becoming knotted and is safer than using a clevis pin if the strap breaks. Next have the tow vehicle backup, leaving two to three feet worth of slack in the strap. Then the tow vehicle, using light throttle, should accelerate tightening the strap providing the pulling force needed to free the vehicle.

    The vehicle being recovered should assist in the recovery, at the time of the snap, by slowly spinning the tires in the same direction as the pulling vehicle. After the vehicle becomes free, the driver of the previously stuck vehicle should signal they are free and should hit their brakes stopping both vehicles. The driver of the pulling vehicle should let off the throttle without using the brakes, once signaled by the other driver. This sequence is important to avoid having the recovered vehicle hit the pulling vehicle.

WARNING! Never use tow straps with end hooks or link two straps with a clevis pin. These heavy metal objects could become projectiles if a strap breaks, which could cause severe injury. Never leave more than two or three feet of slack in the strap. More slack than this greatly increases the risk of injury and vehicle damage.

Always keep everyone at least 30 feet away from a strapping or winching situation.

  • Winching (Refer To "Winch Operation" For Additional Information) - Winching is most commonly used in the following situations: there is no support vehicle available, a high controlled force is required to recover the vehicle, there is a high risk of environmental or vehicle damage, or where nothing else seems to work. A winch can deliver a high pulling force with a great deal of control. It allows you to walk the vehicle out of the situation in a slow controlled manner. This control works well for avoiding further vehicle damage.

    Once you decide it is time to use the winch look for a good anchor point. It needs to be strong enough to hold more than the vehicle's weight and provide a direction of pull as straight as possible. Use block and tackle if necessary to improve the angle of pull or increase the winch's pulling force. If the anchor point is a tree use a strap around its base and hook the cable to the strap. If it is another vehicle, then place that vehicle in PARK and block the front tires. If you cannot find an anchor point within reach try using your spare tire by burying it. Once you have determined an anchor point hook up the cable, ensuring there are a least five wraps of cable left on the drum, and place a floor mat or something else over the strung out cable.

    Placing something over the strung out cable helps keep the cable on the ground if it breaks. Next, place the vehicle in first gear and apply a very light throttle as you power the winch in. Be careful not to allow slack in the cable as you recover the vehicle. Do not try to guide the cable into the drum. If it starts to bunch up on one end, let it. You can re-spool the cable afterwards.

    Never use a winch cable as a tow strap and always stand back while winching.

WARNING! Winch cables are under high tension when in use and can become a projectile if they fail. Never stand over or straddle the winch cable. Never jerk or overload the winch cable. Never stand in front of the vehicle while winching. Failure to follow these instructions can result in serious or fatal injury.


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