This 4×4 Recovery Couldn’t Get Any Worse – Or Could It?!

Jase and Simon from the hit All 4 Adventure series took a spin out onto the tidal flats to find some new fishing spots. While it may have seemed like a great idea to scout ahead with Polaris RZR 900s, it all quickly went haywire when Jase tried to cross the low-tide flats to get to the other side. Both were driving utility truck modified Toyota RAV 4s – generally considered quality but mediocre in terms of 4 x 4 capabilities, handling, and traction control.

Modded RAV 4 No Match for Tidal Flat

It’s not that the Toyota RAV 4 isn’t a great all around utility vehicle – especially equipped with some stunning all terrain BF Goodrich tires. It has much more to do with the quicksand-like properties of a tidal flat. The basin, which fills up with water exceedingly quickly, is a soft sand & clay mixture perfect for capturing heavy machinery. And while the RAV 4’s standard curb weight is only 3500 lbs (and probably 4500 lbs with their additions) – it’s heavy enough still to sink like a rock into tidal flat mud.

Where Torque is Truly a “Get Out of Jail Free” Card

Standard factory engine provides an underwhelming 176 horsepower at 6000 RPM. What this translates into is that this four cylinder engine is great for powering through light off-road conditions and fuel efficiency – not fighting tooth and nail through the mud. 
So, leading into this tragic accident, they already had a few problems going against them:
• General Use Engine Specs
• Underpowered Four Wheel Drive
• Overweight Vehicle

But it’s not all bad! They brought tow cables at least. The issue they quickly ran into when Simon hooked up the ropes was that as he jammed on the gas to pull out his partner, the towed vehicle kept sinking deeper and deeper. AND the towing RAV 4 was also having a devilish time gaining the traction it needed to get to speed. This is where raw horsepower can get you out of problems. The faster your recovery vehicle can get up to full torque – the RAV 4 AWD is standard rated with 172 lb ft at 6000 RPM – the more pull it’s got. Here’s what happens when you take a similar situation and tow with a modified off-roading Ford Bronco 4×4.

Could It Get Any Worse? It Does!

Let’s talk about towing off-road vehicles. First, there’s no such thing as an ideal situation. Off road conditions means that there’s always an obstruction or obstacle in the way. Added with a hearty swig of desperation, people start to make bad judgment calls on getting a vehicle out of a bind.

This is exactly the trap that seasoned Australian outback adventurers Simon and Jase get themselves into. Having one Toyota RAV 4 stuck in the muck, with a rising tide, Jase wisely makes the decision to try to tow it out. The real issue is when he attaches the longer tow strap to the rear of the sunken RAV 4’s chassis. This forces him to take the one operational vehicle and jet off at an angle.

In towing – angles are bad! The only angle you want when pulling a vehicle out of the muck is as straight a line from one to the other as possible. This is because as the tow vehicle pulls, it will carry all its momentum in a direct line away. Any deviation risks a shift in force which can cause either vehicle to lose stability and roll.

For them, it was a lose-lose either way. Where the tow RAV 4 was located, it needed the added traction of the edge of the mud flat to get to full engine power. So, if you’re planning a 6 hour excursion to some isolated mud flats – plan on either bringing a bridge or more horsepower.


But it’s not all bad! They brought tow cables at least. The issue they quickly ran into when Simon hooked up the ropes was that as he jammed on the gas to pull out his partner,