Choosing the right tow strap for your vehicle

A stalled vehicle can be a pain — especially if you have to call a tow truck. The cost and waiting for them to service you can be a challenge. Depending on the size of your vehicle and the car's condition, tow straps are a great tool for handling the task of towing a vehicle. They can help you in an urgent situation if you need a tow or if you need to help a friend or family member get their vehicle to a mechanic or safe location. Tow strap or rope prices can range from $17 to over $300.

If you invest in this tool, it's important to know how to use a tow strap properly and have an idea of the right one to buy. Read on as we explore how tow straps can help you in a bind and our recommendations for tow straps to consider.

What are tow straps?

Tow straps are typically composed of polyester or polypropylene and are used to tow a freely-moving car behind another vehicle. Tow straps have loops, and hooks are installed at the end of those loops to pull vehicles. It’s important to note that because of the material they are made from, tow some straps do not stretch. Because there isn’t any give on these straps, a vehicle that may need to be moved from an area with challenging conditions may instead require recovery straps.

How to use a tow strap

Attaching a tow strap

Tow straps can be an effective tool for towing your car — if you have access to a heavy-duty truck — or helping out a friend or family member. However, it’s important to be careful when using them, as incorrectly using a tow strap can damage your car. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow the steps carefully:

  • Attach the tow strap to your vehicle’s hitch – If you have a heavy-duty vehicle, you likely have a trailer hitch or possibly a hitch ball. Locate the hole in the hitch or hook below the ball that is specifically designed for towing and attach the tow strap’s hook there.
  • Link the other end of the strap to the vehicle – For this one, it helps to have the towed vehicle’s owner manual accessible. That can help you find the car’s mounting hook, where you’ll place the tow strap’s hook. Most cars have one, and it should be located toward the front of the vehicle.
  • Ensure the strap is securely installed – Before you begin to tow the car, you want to ensure the tow strap has been correctly installed. Check your hitch and the underside of the towed vehicle. You may also want to lightly tug the strap to confirm that it’s connected.
  • Drive slowly – Once you are sure the tow strap is installed correctly, get in your vehicle, slightly accelerate, and then drive slowly. You want to avoid any sudden accelerations and braking.

Again, the goal here is to securely fasten the strap hooks to each vehicle and that the strap is the right length to pull the car safely.

Choosing the Right Tow Strap for Your Vehicle

All tow straps aren’t equal. So, you need to select the best one for your potential towing needs. Here are some attributes you should consider as you choose a tow strap product:
The state of the vehicle that needs to be towed – Tow straps don’t typically have elasticity. This could be a problem if you’re towing an immobilized vehicle or a car stuck in a ditch or mud. If you encounter something like this, it’s best to have a recovery strap made of nylon since it has more give.
The vehicle’s weight – How much your car weighs will determine the length of tow strap you’ll need. You need to ensure that you purchase a strap that is rated at three times your vehicle’s weight. For example, the typical weight of a Toyota Camry ranges between 3,310 and 3,595 pounds. That would mean that you’ll need a tow strap with a rating of no less than 9,930 pounds. You also want to ensure you don’t get a strap that’s too large, which can impact its towing ability.

A List of the Recommended Tow Straps

Again, finding the right tow strap is essential to ensuring the safety of your vehicle if you need to tow it. We’ve included a few recommendations to help you find the correct tow strap for your car.

SmartStraps 30ft 22,500lb Recovery Strap

If you prefer to avoid tow chains, then this SmartStraps recovery strap is a great option. With a width of three inches and the capacity to recover stuck vehicles like tractors or small machinery, this strap is worth your research. In addition to the protective sleeve making it easy to loosen after use, it also comes with webbing technology that makes it resistant to abrasions. Customers who used this one praised its strength and ease of use.

SmartStraps 20ft 17,000lb Tow Strap

If you’ve got a car or vehicle that weighs 5,667 or below, then the SmartStraps 17,000-pound tow strap is worth a look. Much like the product before, it uses SmartWeb’s webbing technology to ward against abrasions or damage to the strap and has a protective sleeve on each loop to increase the strap’s use life. Customers were impressed with the product’s price and overall use.  

SmartStraps 20ft 9000lb Tow Strap  

Have a smaller vehicle that you may need to tow? Then check out SmartStrap’s 9000-pound tow strap. This strap can pull a maximum capacity of 3,000 pounds. This is a product you want to consider if you have a subcompact car. In addition to the product’s webbing that can help avoid rips and tears, the strap also comes with zinc-plated, steel, and rust-resistant hooks.  

 Customers who reviewed the product praised the strap’s strength and price. 

Overland Vehicle Systems 2in Width X 30ft Length

Overland Vehicle System’s two inch width and 30 foot length 20,000-pound tow straps are another option for towing your vehicle. Like SmartStraps, it has a protective sleeve over both hook loops. But, in addition to the double stitching that is meant to reinforce the strap’s strength, it also includes a storage bag so you can easily keep track of this strap when you’re finished.  

Overland Vehicle Systems 5in Width X 30ft Length

Do you need a little more weight capacity support for your vehicle? If so, the Overland Vehicle System’s three inch width and 30 feet length offers more weight support for your car. The tightly woven synthetic fiber has double looped ends that include protective sleeves to ensure the strap doesn’t deform or lose its effectiveness. Also, much like the other Overland Vehicle Systems strap, this one comes with a storage bag, adding to the product’s attention to convenience.  

Stuck or immobilized vehicles are a common part of driving. Fortunately, you can invest in tools to help you tow a car to a safe location or the nearest mechanic. Check out our inventory of top straps, and select one that fits your needs at AutoZone.

FAQ/People Also Ask

How do I choose the right tow strap?

You should select a tow strap that is three times the weight capacity of the vehicle you’ll need to tow. You should also ensure the material is right for your needs, as nylon tow straps have more give, and polyester ones do not.

What strength tow strap do I need?

You need to purchase a tow strap that is three times the weight of the vehicle that needs towing.

What length tow strap should I get?

Straps typically come in 20 to 30 feet lenths. Often it’s good to have both sizes as that’ll give you options if you need a shorter strap for narrow roadways or a longer one for a vehicle that’s hard to get to.

How much weight can tow straps hold?

It depends on the type of strap. Some can hold up to 7,500 pounds, while others can only manage 3,000 pounds. Again, this will depend on the weight capacity of the strap, as it needs to be three times the weight of your car.

What is the difference between a tow strap and a recovery strap?

A tow strap is typically meant to tow cars that can move independently, while a recovery strap can move immobile cars.

Where do you attach the tow strap?

You should connect a tow strap to a mounting hook toward the front of the vehicle.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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