Monthly Safety Article April 2021
Securing a vehicle to a trailer
How to safely secure your vehicle to a trailer a Safety topic for CJG regular club meeting, 4/6/2021
- There are more ways than one to do this properly.
- Connecting straps/chains to the frame or bumpers
- Less popular method due to the unnecessary stress it puts on suspension components.
- Doesn’t allow for the vehicle suspension to work along with the trailer’s suspension; potentially increasing the jarring effect from bumps and potholes.
- Suspension puts constant pressure against straps and other tie-down equipment.
- Care must be taken to get the straps tight enough that they won’t loosen over time and miles due to suspension movement, but loose enough to avoid damaging the vehicle, trailer, or tie-down equipment
- On the plus side, the frame/bumpers are usually more accessible than the axles, particularly on lower vehicles, probably not a huge advantage with most off road oriented vehicles.
- Connecting straps to the axles
- Allows the vehicle suspension to cushion the ride, just as it would when moving under its own power.
- Quick and easy.
- Care should be taken to avoid crushing brake lines or otherwise damaging components on the axles.
- Tire baskets / wheel net devices, usually made of webbing, that grab the tires and are anchored by straps
- Same benefits as strapping directly to the axles, but without risk of damaging brake lines.
- It takes longer to tie down a vehicle this way.
- More equipment must be purchased (and it’s expensive), stored, maintained and carried along.
- Other considerations
- Crossing straps is often seen done this way, but is there a good reason for it?
- Often done due to having straps that are too long, or anchor points on the trailer are in the wrong spot for the vehicle being hauled.
- If one strap comes loose, the vehicle can move sideways, usually loosening the other strap as well.
- Straps crossed in an X pattern may rub against one another, potentially damaging the strap.
- Legal requirements
- Most states require one strap per corner of the vehicle 4 straps to tie down your Jeep.
- Â Alternatives to straps
- Chains and binders are really the only acceptable alternative. Chains are stronger than straps, they are rigid and don’t stretch, and they last longer; they are also heavier, more likely to cause vehicle damage, and more expensive in the short term. Pick your poison.
- You can pull a dead Jeep onto your trailer with a winch, don’t use your winch to tie it down once it’s there. It’s not really safe and it’s hard on your equipment.
- Back to methods of tying the vehicle dow. Don’t mix them up! If you strap the front end of the vehicle down by the axle, you need to tie the axle down, not the bumper, on the rear. Tires on the front, tires on the rear; frame on the front, frame on the rear, etc.
- Make sure your tie down equipment is adequate for the job
- The Working Load Limit of straps, chains, anchors, etc. must exceed the weight of your vehicle.
- Inspect your tie-down equipment regularly.
- Chains and anchors should be checked for signs of metal fatigue, loose hardware, excessive rust, etc.
- Straps and other nylon webbing materials should be checked for cuts, tears, mold, mildew, and burn marks.
- Use a high quality strap rated for the job; this is not a place to go cheap, and motorcycle tie down straps won’t cut it on a 3000+ pound Jeep. No matter the strap you choose, remember that nylon straps will stretch about 3% when tightened, so tension should be rechecked after driving a few miles and every fuel/food/other stop, if not more often.
- Care for straps by keeping them neatly rolled and held in shape with a rubber band. Keep them dry and out of the sunlight except when they are being used; moisture or UV rays will destroy them quickly. Keep them off of sharp edges when using them as well to avoid cutting or tearing.
- More Information
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