Anyone who’s seen the lawn mower loading fail videos on YouTube knows loading lawn tractors and riding mowers into the bed of a truck can be dangerous if not done properly. The easy solution is often to transport them in a trailer, but in the event a pickup truck is the only resource available to you, it’ll work just as well… provided you take the proper and safe approach to loading them correctly.
Things to consider before loading
Before you slide a ramp up to your truck’s tailgate and rev up your tractor or mower, make sure you’re taking a few very important things into consideration:
- Lawn tractors and riding mowers with cutting decks installed have very low ground clearance; they’re not going to fare well on steeper inclines. Arched garden tractor ramps are often the best solution to this and can help your mower or tractor clear the lip of your tailgate without damage to the truck or your equipment.
- When dealing with zero-turn mowers you have two additional obstacles: variance in wheel offsets and uneven weight distribution. Take these into consideration when choosing the right loading ramp and make sure to pick a zero-turn mower ramp that’s wide enough to accommodate the wheel gap, as well as one with a higher weight capacity to compensate for the total weight of the equipment.
- The center of gravity on most garden tractors is higher than you might think, which can lead to tipping or flipping when going up a steep incline. Longer ramps will help to keep you and your tractor right side up!
Keeping the above in mind, the only thing left to do before you get started is to make sure you’re investing in the right ramp and other essential loading equipment to make the job as safe and seamless as possible. Use Discount Ramps’ garden tractor ramp calculator to make sure you’re choosing the best ramp length for your specific piece of equipment!
The proper loading process
With the right ramp in tow and any tailgate supports you might need to accommodate the weight of your equipment, you’re ready to load your lawn tractor or riding mower! Follow these steps accordingly to see the process through safely:
- Park your truck on a flat surface or with the tailgate facing a slight incline—this will reduce the steepness of the loading angle by bringing the feet of the ramps up. Also, don’t forget to set the parking brake on your truck!
- Unfold the ramps and place the finger or plate ends on the edge of the tailgate. Then, use tie-down straps to secure the ramps to the truck via the bumper (steel bumpers only) or trailer hitch safety chain loops. This step is important! If the tie-down straps are not secured to the truck, they may slide out while you and the tractor are on the ramp.
- If you are comfortable doing so, back the mower/tractor into the bed of the truck. This will keep the heaviest part of the tractor lower, which will stop the tractor from doing a “wheelie” on the ramps.
- Alternatively, with the mower/tractor in low gear, carefully and confidently drive it forward up the ramps, into the bed of the truck. It is especially important if driving forwards up the ramps to not stop and start midway—if you stop on the ramps, let the mower/tractor roll all the way to the ground before trying again.
- Set the mower/tractor parking brake and tie it down. Tie-down strap placement will depend on the type of equipment and the truck model. Be sure to use only quality tie down straps, like the ones offered by Discount Ramps. If the mower/tractor is facing the rear of the vehicle, remember that wind has the potential to flip the hood open and damage it. Use a tie down strap to keep the hood shut.
- Stop periodically to ensure that your tie-down straps have not loosened and that the mower/tractor remains securely in place.
By keeping a few simple facts in mind and following the proper loading procedure, you should have no trouble loading a lawn mower into the bed of your pickup without ending up on YouTube. If you have any questions about what products you should be using or how to use them for a smooth load, don’t hesitate to give the product experts at Discount Ramps a call today!