Take care of your gear, and it will take care of you!
Does that sound familiar? That was the first statement on the gear maintenance post a month ago. It's true, but will gear last forever? Maybe, let's dive into some reasons to replace it and make sure you have quality, safe gear that will always be ready for a recovery.
Let's break it down
There are several completely different items in you recovery kit. All of them require different maintenance and cleaning, and all of them can wear in different ways. This goes for any gear, any brand. Here at GearAmerica, we make our gear to have the longest lifespan possible, and back it with a Lifetime Warranty. That's something to consider when you replace worn out gear.
Rust is your enemy. Period. When the finish breaks down on a shackle, and it starts to rust, you can refinish or replace them based on the damage incurred. Keeping them clean and dry will help them last longer, but there's reasons for picking the right shackle the first time. Some shackles are no-name, unmarked and untreated like this:
While it has a "galvanized" finish, after a couple uses in the mud, it starts to look like this:
The fancy finish is gone, bare metal and rust are coming through. It's time to re-think this shackle. Corrosion will penetrate, ruin threads and eventually cause structural compromise. We cover our shackles with a lifetime warranty because we use quality materials and tough coatings to insure they will last.
Tow straps and tree savers are some of the most used and abused items out there. They are the immediate go-to for pulling, and can be pushed to the limit in any environment. When you get a cut or chaff in a tow strap, it drastically reduces its strength. Here's an example of a strap that was still in use until very recently:
This is a two-layer, sewn together strap from probably 30 years ago. As you can see, the loop is fraying and there is a cut completely through one of the layers. What used to be a 30,000 lb strap is now a ZERO lb strap. This is a dangerous example of what if fairly common out on the trail. Be safe, get a new one.
Hitch Receiver Mounts
The tow hitch is the strongest, safest recovery point on a vehicle. Having a good hitch receiver mount is a huge plus. There are, however, many inexpensive ones that can break down and wear out quicker than you think. Many people put on a receiver mount and just leave it in place. The metal-on-metal rubbing over time will wear through a bad finish and let rust in. Solution? Get an aluminum one, or one with a quality finish. From time to time, be sure to pull it, check it, and give it a little grease to keep moisture out!
Remember...RUST IS YOUR ENEMY! If your receiver mount looks like this, consider getting a new one. What you can't see is rust penetrating the welds and compromising strength
Synthetic Shackles, Ropes and Winch lines
Synthetic ropes are the wave of the future. Light, strong and easy to use, they are taking the industry by storm. Most quality synthetic gear will have protective coating and sleeved to insure a long life. Just like straps, once they get a cut or fray, their strength and reliability is compromised, and they should not be used. Here's an example of a winch line thats at the end of it's life:
Notice the protective coating is almost completely gone, and it's got small "fuzzy" frays. Make no mistake, this winch line has had a great life. It's on my old '68 Jeep, and has been in use for nearly 20 years, but it's time to replace it.
Why is this so important?
Safety is the primary concern when performing a vehicle recovery. I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
Vehicle recovery uses heavy duty gear under extreme loads. Always take your time and be safe.
Worn out or compromised gear creates an unsafe environment. SAFETY is why we have a Hassle-Free Lifetime Replacement Warranty..the best in the industry. With proper care and maintenance, we expect our gear to last a lifetime, but sometimes issue arise that are outside the norm. When ANY product, whether from GearAmerica or another brand, becomes unsafe please replace it. Make sure you register your GearAmerica products to take advantage of the best warranty in the business!
Any questions or concerns? Shoot me an email at Chris@GearAmerica.com
And as always, Off-Road Smart, and Tread Lightly!
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