Tie-downs for cars, trailers and boxes
Tie a load on a car or trailer
You have a tie-down but you have no idea how to use it because the instructions on the packaging have long gone.
There's a range of tie-down straps for anything from parcels to suitcases, to car roof-racks, trailers and trucks and they work on several different principles. All are simple to use if you know how. Polyester webbing straps are stronger, will take more load and are more durable than nylon webbing.
See also Loading a car trailer in 'Towing and reversing a trailer'.)
Loop straps, as their name implies, are one length of webbing strap designed to wrap around the object and then feed back through the tie-down fastener. They are also used as tie-downs on a trailer or roofrack by passing the strap over the object twice (see illustration below).
Two-piece straps consist of two separate straps that are attached on opposite sides of the article. More often than not these have hooks for attachment. The loose ends are then connected and tensioned over the object at the fastener (see illustration below).
How to release a ratchet buckle
Before releasing a ratchet tie-down, check that the load is stable and nothing will topple on release. To release the tie-down strap, pull or squeeze the trigger mechanism on the handle end of the buckle. (If you can't find the trigger, start looking at the spool end and follow the mechanism back to the trigger at the handle end. The spool end of the trigger mechanism will be a small piece of metal keyed into one of the cogs, holding the spool in place.) Once the pressure on the ratchet is relieved by releasing the trigger, open the
buckle out so it lies flat on the object. Some assemblies then click into detent or relaxed mode.
Some lighter-duty ratchet buckles do not have trigger mechanisms. They can be released simply by flipping the ratchet cover open.
Once the buckle is lying open and flat, pull the strap to release it.
Some assemblies require that the trigger mechanism is released once more to enable the buckle to close again.
How to use a long, two-piece ratchet tie-down for a small job
It can be difficult using a two-piece tie-down with an extra-long strap for a small job. Because the free non-hook end of a two-piece tie-down has to be threaded through the buckle it can take a long time to ratchet up to full tension. It is better to store your two-piece as shown in the illustration below. This way the buckle can be released and the hook end of the long strap pulled out to the desired length.