Proper Way To Tie Down An Off Road Truck - Safe WheelingPosted in How To on June 1, 2009
We're going to kick off our new safety column with a subject most people tend to overlook until it's too late. And no, we're not talking about your most recent wedding anniversary. The subject here is about towing a vehicle and the proper way of anchoring it to a trailer. We've seen way too many examples of how not to do it in recent months to pass up this opportunity to showcase the proper procedure. Whether you haul vehicles as a profession, or once a year to your favorite Jeep Jamboree, the information we are about to cover should not be taken lightly.
People tend to ignore the "what if?" scenario because it takes additional time and money to do it right. Or in some cases, ignorance plays a part in the equation. However, one thing remains constant; Individual state laws as well as the National Transportation Safety Administration define a very specific blueprint for those of us who tow. Without reciting the actual regulation as written in the NHTSA handbook, we'll just say it like this: regardless of anchoring method (e.g., chain, ratchet strap, etc.) you must use a minimum of four individual attachment points (per vehicle) with an acceptable weight rating if you plan to tow a vehicle on our nation's roadways. That means two individual points up front and two more out back. If one strap should become loose or break altogether the opposite side is there to maintain tension on the load.
To take this one step further, we recommend that each strap or chain be attached to the opposite corner of the towed vehicle. Simply put, make an "x" at each end of the vehicle when tying down your rig. The "x" technique also ensures that the vehicle cannot move laterally on the deck of the trailer during an evasive maneuver.
Other important considerations about ratchet straps:
* When ratcheting the excess slack of a strap, be sure that the strap makes at least two complete revolutions around the spool or drum of the ratcheting mechanism; this will prevent strap slippage.
* When purchasing straps, be sure that the webbing is indeed rated for the maximum weight you intend to tow. A good rule of thumb is to size your anchoring straps to the maximum weight of your trailer, or if you have multiple trailers, use straps with roughly double the burst strength of the weight of your vehicle.
* Stick with polyester webbing material over nylon. Polyester has less of a tendency to stretch when force is applied to it.
* Develop a habit of using individual axle straps with protective sleeves at each corner.
* Make sure the ratchet straps you use have positive-locking snap-style hooks to ensure the straps stay connected in the case of a load shift.
* Never allow webbing-type tie-down straps to rub against metal or other abrasive surfaces when securing a vehicle to a trailer.
* When excess webbing material exists after the strap is tightened, be sure to tie it up to prevent it from flapping around in the wind.
* When not in use, store webbing-type tie-down straps in a location that protects them from sunlight, chemicals and moisture.
* Never rely on a winch to secure your rig to the trailer. It's bad for the winch's braking mechanism and there is no guarantee that it will hold.