How to Securely Tie Down an ATV on a Trailer
Knowing how to securely tie down an ATV on a trailer or truck bed is an invaluable skill. It prevents grimace-inspiring damage to the ATV and to other vehicles, possible injury to people, and sometimes trouble with the law.
Ratchet straps are both the easiest and the most secure way to tie down your ATV. You will need two to four of them, depending on the method you'll be using. It may be a good idea to go ahead and purchase four so you are prepared to play around with and vary your options whenever you like.
Most ATVs need ratchet straps that measure one to two inches wide, but the heaviest ATVs may need wider straps.
Make sure to only use high quality ratchet straps in good condition. You don't want them to break while you're attaching them and leave you unprepared for your ride or break while you're driving and do you no good.
Don't try to use rope or any other type of strap. They can stretch, break, or simply not fasten securely. Ratchet straps are also wider than rope and many other straps you may think to try, providing stronger support.
Make sure you have loaded the ATV so that it isn't hanging off the edge of the trailer or truck bed, because no strap is strong enough to handle that.
There are multiple ways you can securely tie down an ATV.
The wheel method
You can run four straps through the ATV's wheels and secure the straps tight to the closest tie-down spots.
This is a quick and easy method, but some people worry the straps will damage the wheel rims.
The straight method
Run four of the straps through tough and secure sections of the vehicle frame and then attach the straps to the nearest tie-down spots on the trailer or truck.
The crisscross method
Hook a strap through the front of the ATV frame and pull it back so you can attach it to the back of the trailer or truck. Then run another of them through the back of the frame and attach it to the front of the trailer or truck. This should create an X shape on the sides of the ATV, crisscrossing the straps.
This is a particularly strong method of securing your ATV as the pulling back of the straps holds the ATV down tighter.
1. Avoid the Axle.
Don't fasten the straps over an ATVs axle because the force could damage it.
2. What You Want to Achieve.
You want to ensure the ATV cannot roll, shift, fall, or topple even on bumpy roads and in quick stops.
You want to ratchet the straps until you can see them forcing the ATV lower to the trailer or truck a time or two and stop there. Making it tighter is not necessary and could increase the chances of breaking the strap.
Tighten the straps equally. If they are tightened unevenly, the loosest one will allow movement in the ATV that will loosen the hold. You may find your strap completely untied or your ATV moved when you stop, or worse.
3. Where to Attach the Straps.
The truck or trailer should come with built-in eyelets or other tie-down spots. if it doesn't, you can have some welded in without much expense. While you're waiting to add some tie-down spots, you can probably find sturdy places in the truck or trailer to secure the straps.
Make sure any tie-down spots you use are strong and immobile. Don't use a vehicle's bumper, luggage rack, or anything else that isn't 100% secure, strong, and reliable. Even a well-maintained bumper, etc. moves a little and this movement while the vehicle is in transit could also jostle the ATV enough to loosen the straps.
Wrap any excess strap around itself and tie it so it doesn't blow around in the wind and beat up anything.
4. Final Points.
Ensure the ATV is in neutral with the parking brake on.
Many people find that no matter how tight they ratchet the straps, there is still some loosening when they get on the road. You can stop after say about five miles down the road to give the straps a little more tightening.
You can purchase custom ATV chains to securely tie down an ATV and to prevent theft. It requires more expense than ratchet straps, but you might feel more secure with them and consider it a sound investment to prevent the cost of someone stealing your ATV if you'll be leaving the ATV on the trailer or truck bed.
There are also trailer add-ons you can use, curved metal bars that lock over your ATV's front tires. These are great options if you will only be using the trailer the haul your ATV.