Why Are My Tie-Downs Coming Loose?

HOW TO FIX LOOSE TIE-DOWNS

There can be many reasons why your tie downs or ratchet straps are becoming loose, or in the worst case becoming completely undone. Below we explain several different issues to look for, so you can figure out why your tie downs are coming loose on the truck or trailer.

WHAT TO CHECK IF YOUR TIE-DOWNS ARE LOOSE

PLACEMENT ON THE VEHICLE

  • When finding a point on your vehicle to hook or connect the tie down to, make sure its as low as close to the wheels as possible. Anything above the suspension allows the car to flex and bounce as it takes bumps on the road.  Over time this can cause the tie-downs to come loose, as they are constantly getting tight, then loose with every bump. For most vehicles this means you should be attaching directly to the tires, or around a Straight Axle, A-Arms, or Trailing Arms with a Soft-Tie/Axle Wrap.

FULLY WRAPPED AROUND THE BARREL

  • Make sure the strap webbing is getting a full wrap around the barrel.  Most times we tend to pull the loose strap through the barrel until its really tight, and then ratchet it down.  The issue that happens here is because its so tight from the get go, that that strap doesn’t wrap fully around the barrel as you ratchet it (because you only had to ratchet it 2-3 times before it was tight). Ideally you want the strap to have 2 full wraps around the barrel, so it creates enough friction to hold all the weight. If you don’t or still have part of the barrel showing, it may seem tight, but once you start moving (or stand on the strap and test it) then the strap will slowly start to slip out of the barrel and the strap will come loose. 

FIRST TIME STRETCH

  • New Tie-Downs will have a little bit of stretch to them on the first use.  That strap webbing is finally having a weight load put on it, and may stretch some during the first use.  Typically this happens over 10-30 minutes until its fully stretched out.  So we recommend getting your vehicle tied down on the trailer and getting all the new straps tight, then continue packing or prepping for your trip while the straps stretch into place. Right before you leave just go back around and give each tie-down 1-2 more ratchets to get them tight again after they have stretched. After this the straps should be set, and will no longer stretch.

BROKEN RATCHET

  • The only other way it could get loose is if something is breaking in the ratchet mechanism.  This is rare and is usually pretty easy to tell that something is wrong.  Usually the ratchet wont actually lock down all the way, or has teeth that are bent or broken.  Another possibility is that the spring inside the ratchet that pushes the lock plate down isn’t working or is broken/missing.  This is obvious because you’ll have to manually push the lock plate down every time.   If the ratchet mechanism is the issue, when you step on or test the strap, the barrel will pop (unlocked) and start to spin and let the strap out. 

HOW TO USE YOUR TIE-DOWN PROPERLY

Our advice is to setup the tie-down on the trailer like you usually do. Get it tight, then stand and jump on the strap for 30 seconds and see what’s happening to make it loose. 

If the barrel is actually spinning and unlocked, then you have a bad ratchet mechanism.  If its not spinning, but the strap is coming out of it anyways, then the strap didn’t get wrapped around the barrel enough times. If its not the ratchet that’s the issue, then its either a new straps that’s still stretching, or its that your tying down to a spot on your vehicle that’s too high (above the suspension) and that’s allowing that movement. When you jump on the strap, does the car bounce up and down on the suspension? This will cause the strap to get tight and then loose back and forth as you jump on it. Over time that will allow the car to shift, the shocks to compress, and your straps to get loose.


Want to see what we’re talking about? Here’s a good video breakdown we did with Shock Therapy that shows the ways how NOT use tie-downs, as well as the proper way to secure your vehicle.