Topic: Trailer tie-down straps?

What does everyone prefer for attaching the car to the trailer?  I've used the really long ratchet straps over the suspension, but, have known people that had that damage their suspension.  This past time, we looped straps over the front engine cradle and rear suspension beam, and, the front suspension cradle severed one strap, and wedged the other one between the cradle pieces (probably not helped by the fact that we had just swapped the whole front subframe into the car). 

SO.  What does everyone use?  I'm leaning towards the ones that strap over the wheels and sort of hug the tires down - is there a certain kind that seems to work better than others?  I've also seen cars where you just strap through all 4 wheels at each corner, which would be convenient and easy, but seems like it doesn't actually secure the car to the trailer that well.  Thoughts?

Team 'We're still coming up with a name'
1996 Buick Century - it's scary stock up in there.  And, no, it doesn't have a 'Buick' V6.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

U-Haul auto transport have webs which go over front tires, backed up by chains available for the front and back of the car.

Last professional tow operator using a roll-back: looped ratchets over only front tires on my Volvo which was scrapped. I _was_ surprised the back  of the car wasn't secured.

_Previous_ tow operator used winch, straps, and a chain linked into the bed of the roll-back for the back of the car. Hooked the chain, pulled it down with the winch, and applied the straps.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

Ideally, you can cross strap front and back using the OEM tie down flanges.
I.e. you hook into the hole on the right, run strap to the left side and hook into something, so the strap itself isn't touching anything, and the crossing keeps the car in place.  Same in front.

This never works for my trailer, which is designed to be lightweight and is short, so the rear of car overhangs the trailer, and thus I can't use the oem things, as it pulls the car forward,
and the rear straps should keep the car from going forward, just the opposite in front.
So I wrap or hook into something in the suspension.  Control arm, sway bar, etc.  I don't tight too much to bend stuff, which I have done one a geo metro that had wimpy suspension bits..

In front, I use a winch to put it on the trailer, so can't cross strap there either. lol so I just add another strap to take tension off the winch cable and leave it on.

I used to be more 'thorough' and use two chains in back, but it was always too much hassle and chains are heavy.

Generally, the tire loop thing isn't great because it allows the car suspension to work and move and shift weight around.  Binding the suspension down keeps the car tight and lets the trailer suspension do the work of dealing with bumps.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

U-Haul tow dolly for FWD cars have straps for the tires and a chain as well; certainly other vendors are similar.

Obviously the car's suspension does the work in this case.

Downside of this method is the vehicle needs to be able to safely roll on the highway; and, can that be guaranteed after a race?

Based on the other loads I've towed, I think it depends on the load and the trailer (or truck). YMMV.


If I have a dead load - un-sprung - I strap or chain it to the trailer, and clearly the trailer's suspension will have to do all the work of smoothing out the trip. I've never had a problem strapping down a dead load.


With a sprung load on a trailer, I experienced losing a strap before I even got off the property where I was collecting the load. There were a lot of ruts and potholes in the collection area, and I didn't even get out of the restricted access area before the strap came loose.


I was collecting a light sprung trailer not suitable for the highway, and had strapped down the purchased trailer onto my heavy collection trailer, by twice going over the purchased trailer with straps, with a chain on the axle. There was enough give in the springs that I lost the hook on one of the straps from the pocket I hooked it on.


As soon as I got past the gate, I immediately pulled out of the aisle and parked, and I changed how it was secured: two chains, two load binders, and another strap [it was an odd shape light trailer] secured by shrinkwrap holding the hooking method secure for the strap.


Straps stretch slightly, and I love shrinkwrap for holding hooks secure onto hooking points. I was running out of time to get out of the restricted access area, so I skipped the shrinkwrap at first until I passed the gate.


Later, I collected a heavy vehicle [GMC Savanna mini-schoolbus] onto that same heavy trailer, and I just used chains and load binders on axle members.


Yes, there was some action of the vehicle on the trailer, separate from the trailer itself. That, plus the weight balance and the airflow, seemed to cause the fishtailing of the trailer over about 60mph in a straight line (I found that out within 7mi. from the pickup point). So I kept it under that, and had no problems - except for the 18-wheelers and the buffeting when they blew by.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

I have used straps and webbing over wheels. I have also used chains and straps on suspension members. They work but are time consuming and IMO you need to be exact with them. So, a few years back I welded perch for hooks on the unibody frame just behind the front tires. I use cross ratchet straps and it takes about 2 minutes. Car never moves.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

There should be tie down spots on the frame or substantial body parts...Mini J hooks on short chain and ratchet straps are good...Crossed left to right..I also leave the winch hook on the car snugged up and check the straps at every piss stop
I used to drive a flatbed tow truck and am a belt and suspenders guy....

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Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

My opinion/limited experience:
I feed the tails of ratchet straps through the wheel spokes and ratchet the 4 wheels to the 4 corners. The crisscross method just creates more wear points for your straps. The issues of straps loosening, shifting or unhookIng are due to the suspension loading and unloading.  To overcome the movement of suspension you have to apply a ton of tension which is when you start breaking stuff.  While towing, “Race” car suspension should be firmish and car should have a low center of gravity so movement of car doesn’t disrupt trailer.

Tri-Lamb Motorsports ‘87 528e

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

Yup, I always just put a strap through each wheel and tighten it down to that corner. No suspension stress or bends and no worries about suspension moving around and straps unhooking or getting loose.

Been doing this with zero issues for over a decade

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Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

aventari wrote:

Yup, I always just put a strap through each wheel and tighten it down to that corner. No suspension stress or bends and no worries about suspension moving around and straps unhooking or getting loose.

Been doing this with zero issues for over a decade


I'm with this guy!

Team Captain at Rust Belt Racing,IOE Pontiac Aztek with The Pit Crew Revenge,Organizers Choice 1956 Nash Metro With Cheesy beards Racing,IOE 1977 Toyota Celica S/T RBR,.SERVICE BY MANNY, MOE, AND JACK PIT CREW REVENGED AEWOO LEGANZA,Judges Choice Chevy HHR RBR

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

aventari wrote:

Yup, I always just put a strap through each wheel and tighten it down to that corner. No suspension stress or bends and no worries about suspension moving around and straps unhooking or getting loose.

Been doing this with zero issues for over a decade

Only issues I've ever had with this is some racing tires tend to lose air and go flat in the trailer.  Never had it happen to all 4 so strapping 4 is the way to go.

1990 RX7 "Mazdarita" 
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Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

Over the years I have used several different styles of tie downs and different styles for using them.
The lasso style seems the most versatile and cost effective. You can use it like this:
https://net-at-hand.s3.amazonaws.com/sites/6047/images/85216_full.jpg

Or like this:
https://www.truckntow.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/800x800/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/t/h/th011_usage.jpg

Or as an axle/control arm wrap.

The one time when I had real safety issues is when I tried to anchor the frame of a 4x4 rock rig to the trailer rather than tying it down by the tires or axles. Driving on a gravel road caused so much movement that the straps loosened enough to let a hook fall off of where it was mounted. It also had to do with the type of hook I had at the time.

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Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

stangman4ever wrote:
aventari wrote:

Yup, I always just put a strap through each wheel and tighten it down to that corner. No suspension stress or bends and no worries about suspension moving around and straps unhooking or getting loose.

Been doing this with zero issues for over a decade


I'm with this guy!

I would be but our addiction to brakes makes getting a strap through a wheel impossible unless we use axle straps with a rachetting strap attached to it.  Even then, not getting any axle strap through the front wheels of the Dustbuster.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

Lots of great replies! 

There should be tie down spots on the frame or substantial body parts.

This was good for a literal LOL, but that's my fault.  It's a FWD A-body GM, a Buick Century.  The only substantial parts of the car are the engine - okay, slight exaggeration, but it isn't a particularly 'strong' car.  I'll look around at it some more next time it's up on a lift, but, on the front of the car, the drivetrain cradle is the strong point, and that's what got us in trouble.  Maybe chains would let us keep strapping it to the front subframe...

Ideally, you can cross strap front and back using the OEM tie down flanges.
I.e. you hook into the hole on the right, run strap to the left side and hook into something, so the strap itself isn't touching anything, and the crossing keeps the car in place.  Same in front.

Okay, I'm not quite following.  It seems like it would be really easy for the car to shift a bit (if the straps were both going the same way and the car 'hopped' that way, or if the straps were opposing on opposite ends of the car, and the car spun that way).  But, I'm not sure we even have a good hook for a cross-strap anyways, unless we welded something on. 

DelinquentRacer wrote:

Over the years I have used several different styles of tie downs and different styles for using them.
The lasso style seems the most versatile and cost effective. You can use it like this:
https://net-at-hand.s3.amazonaws.com/sites/6047/images/85216_full.jpg

Or like this:
https://www.truckntow.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/800x800/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/t/h/th011_usage.jpg

Or as an axle/control arm wrap.

The one time when I had real safety issues is when I tried to anchor the frame of a 4x4 rock rig to the trailer rather than tying it down by the tires or axles. Driving on a gravel road caused so much movement that the straps loosened enough to let a hook fall off of where it was mounted. It also had to do with the type of hook I had at the time.

Those straps look really versatile!  They look a little limiting for over-the-wheel, but, nice to have options. 

What I think we might do, is strap over the front wheels, straps to the torsion beam on the rear axle, and maybe a secondary strap up front over the frame (I think it'll only grab the strap at the outside edges - or maybe just use chains?), if we drive it on instead of winching it.  And, if that doesn't work all that well (or eats more material), then try something else.

Team 'We're still coming up with a name'
1996 Buick Century - it's scary stock up in there.  And, no, it doesn't have a 'Buick' V6.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

This is cross-strapped:

https://www.wranglerforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=1883314&d=1423399441

This prevents the vehicle from moving side-to-side. 

If you  just strap them straight down like this one, the vehicle can move sideways.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.macscustomtiedowns.com/images/uploads/sewn-end-popup.jpg

Frankly, I've towed cars with no straps at all, just put it in park with e-brake on,
and this is totally safe...when nothing goes wrong, like you have to swerve around a deer in the roadway at 68 mph

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

zakp73 wrote:

While towing, “Race” car suspension should be firmish and car should have a low center of gravity so movement of car doesn’t disrupt trailer.

Oh sure, if you've got a cheaty A-class car. If you're towing a 1941 Oldsmobile with your straps anywhere but the frame, the car bounces and shimmies all the way home. tongue

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Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

OnkelUdo wrote:

I would be but our addiction to brakes makes getting a strap through a wheel impossible unless we use axle straps with a rachetting strap attached to it.  Even then, not getting any axle strap through the front wheels of the Dustbuster.

I just take the strap out of the ratcheting mechanism and feed the loose (non-hook) end through the wheel, and back through the ratcheting mechanism. Solves the problem of not being able to fit the hook between the wheel and rotor.

Sorry For Party Racing! - 1985 Pontiac Firebird - Car #35

A race car exists only in two states: broken or in the process of becoming that way.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

piper.gras wrote:
OnkelUdo wrote:

I would be but our addiction to brakes makes getting a strap through a wheel impossible unless we use axle straps with a rachetting strap attached to it.  Even then, not getting any axle strap through the front wheels of the Dustbuster.

I just take the strap out of the ratcheting mechanism and feed the loose (non-hook) end through the wheel, and back through the ratcheting mechanism. Solves the problem of not being able to fit the hook between the wheel and rotor.

You have not seen the (lack of) clearance on the C5 brake with Uplander 17" wheels on the Dustbuster...regardless, valid point for all our other cars.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

OnkelUdo wrote:
piper.gras wrote:
OnkelUdo wrote:

I would be but our addiction to brakes makes getting a strap through a wheel impossible unless we use axle straps with a rachetting strap attached to it.  Even then, not getting any axle strap through the front wheels of the Dustbuster.

I just take the strap out of the ratcheting mechanism and feed the loose (non-hook) end through the wheel, and back through the ratcheting mechanism. Solves the problem of not being able to fit the hook between the wheel and rotor.

You have not seen the (lack of) clearance on the C5 brake with Uplander 17" wheels on the Dustbuster...regardless, valid point for all our other cars.

I'm not sure how that's possible. The caliper sticks out further than the rotor, so how does a ~1/8" thick strap not fit between the rotor and wheel?

We run C5 brakes and 4th gen F-body wheels. Can't fit the hook end of the strap though, but the loose end goes through just fine.

Sorry For Party Racing! - 1985 Pontiac Firebird - Car #35

A race car exists only in two states: broken or in the process of becoming that way.

Re: Trailer tie-down straps?

piper.gras wrote:
OnkelUdo wrote:
piper.gras wrote:

I just take the strap out of the ratcheting mechanism and feed the loose (non-hook) end through the wheel, and back through the ratcheting mechanism. Solves the problem of not being able to fit the hook between the wheel and rotor.

You have not seen the (lack of) clearance on the C5 brake with Uplander 17" wheels on the Dustbuster...regardless, valid point for all our other cars.

I'm not sure how that's possible. The caliper sticks out further than the rotor, so how does a ~1/8" thick strap not fit between the rotor and wheel?

We run C5 brakes and 4th gen F-body wheels. Can't fit the hook end of the strap though, but the loose end goes through just fine.

Its an issue of the spokes on the wheel, the narrow openning rotor to wheel, etc.  We are not talking aftermarket wheels so they even taper toward the outer face a bit.

I am sure it is possible, but not with my sausage fingers.  Would love it if it was!