If you ship a lot, you know that a ratchet tie down or "tie down" is one of the most important kits money can buy.
Whether it's hauling freight over long distances or securing furniture when moving, the ratchet tie down has proven time and time again to be an essential tool. Ratchet tie downs make tightening and securing loads a breeze, and we can't imagine life without them.
It is shocking, however, that not everyone takes care of their restraints despite knowing how important they are for health and safety measures in large cargo shipments.
In this blog post, we'll cover some binding "best practices" that will keep your binding tools in tip-top shape for as long as possible.
Read on to learn how to care for your ratchet tie down so they can last longer with your cargo. Or, also watch our simple video on how to use a ratchet strap.
1. Keep the ratchet oiled
To keep your ratchet running smoothly for years, we recommend lubricating it with a spray or industrial oil.
Regularly lubricating the ratchet prevents hooking and pulling which can cause tear damage during use. For best results, stay away from lubricants like WD-40, as they dry up quickly. Instead, use a longer-lasting lubricant. Note, however, that only apply lubricant to the ratchets, not the straps or webbing, as repeated contact can cause the webbing to corrode over time, reducing effectiveness.
2. Do not place ratchet tie down in the sun
All our ratchet tie downs - heavy-duty and lightweight - are made of 100% polyester. While the material is very strong and withstands repeated rigorous use, it doesn't do well in sunlight.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun can break down polyester fibers over time, causing ratchet tie down to become brittle and discolored.
Fragile, inflexible straps make tightening increasingly difficult and can break if left for long periods. When your ratchet tie downs are not in use, store them in a cool place like a garage or toolbox to avoid sun damage and keep them sturdy longer.
To be on the safe side, we recommend checking the color of each ratchet strap regularly, as discoloration is often the first sign of sun damage and weakening.
3. Dry the ratchet tie down before storing
While it's easy to roll up ratchet tie down and forget about them after a long, wet day of transporting loads, it's one of the worst habits to use ratchet tie down.
Tucking the tie down while they're still damp encourages the rapid growth of mold and mildew spores, just as exposure to sunlight can weaken even a sturdy ratchet tie down over time. Just as you would use a tarpaulin or even do laundry, wait for your tie to dry between uses -- unless it's an emergency.
4. Remove the webbing from the ratchet
When not in use, be sure to remove the ratchet tie down to separate the webbing from the metal ratchet.
Leaving the webbing inside the metal ratchet (or handle) can cause it to wrap too tightly or become weak in a specific area. While the tightening process may be extended next time, this little tip will prolong the life of the ratchet tie down if you stick with it.
5. Wrap the webbing around the ratchet
Instead of letting your laces tangle and become a trip hazard, secure your webbing around the ratchet.
A great way to keep your workspace or vehicle from getting cluttered is to wrap the webbing around the metal handle up to the ratchet tie down the end and secure it with a rubber band. Not only does this keep things neat, but it also protects the metal ratchet from road vibration damage.
6. Keep the shoulder straps away from heat and friction
Many transporters have developed a bad habit of letting the tie downs come loose when not in use.
Leaving the straps flying is dangerous, not only because it can damage the vehicle or other vehicles in the vicinity, but the straps can rub and weaken over time. Try to keep the tie down as far away from moving parts and direct heat as possible to avoid burning or cutting - especially the more delicate mini ratchet tie down.
However, if you notice damaged or burn marks on your tie-down straps, you should buy a replacement right away. For extra protection from abrasion damage, purchase a wear sleeve for your ratchet tie down.
7. Check your shoulder straps regularly
Before each use, take a few seconds to inspect the tie downs for any signs of wear or serious damage. Injury or damage caused by incorrect use of ratchet tie down has legal consequences, so it is important to check carefully.
As mentioned above, discoloration is the first sign of a weakened strap, and burns, tears, and tears are always cause for concern and should be discontinued. Also, keep an eye out for any missing identification labels, as these tell the user the maximum weight each strap can hold. Keep yourself and others safe on the go, and take good care of your ratchet tie down to extend its lifespan.