How To: Maintain Ratchet Tie Down Straps

Whether you are a motocross or ATV enthusiast who’s hauling machines to the trail every weekend, the ever-vigilant adult child of an aging parent who needs a hand getting the yard mowed or snow removed from the driveway, or THE guy with the pickup truck – suddenly everyone’s best friend – that gets asked to help move refrigerators and entertainment centers, a good set of ratchet straps can be one of the handiest tools in your jack-of-all-trades arsenal. With proper care and a minimum of effort (promise!), a well-made strap tie down should provide you a lifetime of dependable use.

Here are a few tips to help you get the longest use from your tie straps:

  1. Store your strap tie downs out of the sun. Over time, ultraviolet light can make nylon and polyester fibers brittle, causing them to discolor, break down and potentially lose strength.
  2. If a tie down strap gets wet or damp while in use, let it dry thoroughly before storing to prevent mildewing.
  3. On a ratchet strap, remove the strap itself from the ratchet hardware between uses. Not doing so can eventually cause the strap to become wrapped too thick around the ratchet spindle, causing you to be unable to use the release mechanism or, worse yet, to bunch up within the teeth of the ratchet. In either case, you’d be forced to cut the strap in order to free it. And that would be a bummer!
  4. Wrap the cargo tie down webbing around the ratchet as you remove it after use to prevent it from coming in contact with the ground, then hold it together with a rubber band or, better yet, a Velcro strap. A carrying bag of some sort to keep all your ratchet straps together in one place is a good idea, too.
  5. Apply lubricating oil on the moving parts of the ratchet. WD-40 works nicely, but take care to not get the lubricant on the webbing, as this will attract dirt and eventually cause the strap to bind. Otherwise, a dry silicone spray will do the trick.
  6. Inspect the tie down straps after each use! Be on the lookout for frayed fibers where they secured their cargo across a sharp edge. Better yet, use some of the handy rubber corner protectors that are available to guard against these wear points; they are inexpensive and easy to use by simply threading through the webbing.

Taking a few extra seconds to make sure your tie down straps are clean, dry and wearing normally with each use will improve a strap’s longevity. What steps do you take to ensure your ratchet tie down straps last their longest?