Q: I need to buy some new tie-downs for my race trailer. What are some rules or guidelines that should be followed when purchasing tie-downs? How about tips for proper installation? Anything else I need to know before I hit the road to the first race of the year?
A: First and foremost, your tie-down straps must be rated to handle the load you’re securing. The strap’s break strength rating is the load the entire strap (complete assembly) can withstand before failing a pull test. The working load limit is 1/3 of the break strength, and is considered to be the maximum load that should be applied to the strap.
For increased safety and extended service life, give your tie-down straps some regular TLC. Inspect each strap for cuts or fraying before use, and store your straps in an enclosed, dry place away from damaging UV rays and moisture that can rust the ratchet mechanisms. A lightweight lubricant like WD-40 can be used on ratchets, but never use oils or lubricants on the webbing, or harsh chemicals or bleach to clean your nylon straps. Some warm water with a little dish soap and a brush will keep your straps looking great. It’s also a good idea to carry a spare set of tie-down straps in your tow rig for emergencies.
Your trailer’s anchor points are important, too. D-ring anchors attached directly to the trailer frame or other structurally sound locations are best. You should avoid using anchor points that side load the straps, or cause the straps to rub against any abrasive surface.