How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work
Checkout my video this is a summarized version of our in-depth article below. 

Do you want to know how does a ratchet strap work because you want to secure a load that is heavy and large? Ratchet straps are also called tie-downs and these are tools that we use when securing different types of loads to keep us safe as well as to keep the safety of the people driving behind us. Simply, the ratchets are tying mechanisms with locks on one end to tie down and secure cargo while traveling and not to let it move. 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

A ratchet strap consists of many parts. The first part is the half-circle bar or what we call the windlass. The windlass has an open slot where you insert the other end of the strap so that you can tighten the hold on the load using the ratchet’s mechanism. The other part is the clutch lever which opens up as you move it up and down. This is used when tightening the tension of the strap and has gears on both sides. The most important part is the spring-loaded dock whose job is to retain the tension of the strap and lock it once the strap is secured. 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

Tying down a load securely as a matter of safety for the people behind you on the freeway should be your foremost concern when carrying heavy and cargo in your truck. That’s why it is very important to be able to use a ratchet strap properly because heavy loads tend to slide on your truck’s metal floor once your vehicle starts moving. 

Best Use of Ratchet Straps

If you are confused about how a ratchet strap works, it basically works by using its mechanical features to tighten up the strap and hold the load securely and prevent it from moving or sliding during transport. Ratchet straps are not only used during transporting loads or cargo from one place to another but they are also used in towing boats from the water to land using trailers as well as securing large logs on 16-wheeler trucks and many more. 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

They can be very useful whenever you need a tie-down strapping system and with their durable and heavy-duty features, they are more secure than ropes. So now you want to know how to use a ratchet strap? Let’s check on the simple steps. 

How to Use a Ratchet Strap for More Secure loading

Attach the long strap on the attachment point of the truck then hurl the other end on the opposite side. The strap should land across the top of the load in a horizontal position. 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

Go to the other side of the truck with your ratchet strap and lock its ratchet piece on the truck’s attachment point.

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

Insert the end of the long strap into the windlass and pull until you have pulled out the maximum length of the strap. Make sure you have pulled the strap completely  through the windlass. Now push and pull the clutch lever to tighten the strap until you feel the tension of the strap tightening.

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

When tightening the tension of the strap, use your legs by bending them a bit then hold the clutch lever with both hands and straighten up your legs as you push the lever upward. Do not push using your hands only to prevent hurting your back.

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work 

When the tension on the strap becomes tight, test its tightness by flicking it with your finger and you must hear a deep tight sound indicating the strap is pulled very tightly over the load. 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

To secure or lock the strap, push up the lever and reach for the spring-loaded dock and lock it then push down the clutch lever to secure the strap. 

 Knowing How to use a ratchet strap is fairly easy. It’s only a matter of tightening a strap using a mechanism with tightening and locking features.  

Rule of the Thumb When Using a Ratchet Strap

The first rule of the thumb when using this strap mechanism is you must always ensure that the strap is securely tying down your load and the load must not move even a bit whenever your vehicle moves especially when you step on a brake. Remember the basic law of physics here: when a mass is at rest, it is at its rest energy but with potential energy. But when it moves due to motion, it kicks out its rest energy into kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is defined as the energy of motion. So understanding kinetic energy is part of knowing how to use a ratchet strap.

rule of the thumb 

In the world of safety, when it comes to hauling loads especially in an open vehicle, the loads must be tied to the floor so that any movement can be prevented. So even if the vehicle is packed with a load it can prevent it from sliding, using the ratchet straps is also a must to prevent the loads from flying around during high speed. 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

Most accidents on highways happen because of insecure loads being carried by careless drivers so it becomes really dangerous if you see that the vehicle in front of you has a load that is not tied up with ratchet straps. In this scenario, now you have knowledge of how does a ratchet strap work but also why it is very critical to use a ratchet strap.   

2nd rule of the thumb

The second rule of thumb here is ensuring that the rest of the strap that is not used must be properly folded and tied up onto the tightened strap to prevent it from slipping out from the vehicle and causing accidents or damages to other vehicles. Because if the strap flaps out of the vehicle, this will be packed with tremendous energy like whipping it out in midair. The next thing you should know now is how to undo the ratchet strap. 

How to Undo Ratchet Straps

Many people struggle with how to undo the ratchet strap although this is just a matter of reversing how you did it up. But then, if you are told to undo a ratchet strap when you have not secured any ratchet strap before, here are the things you should do: 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

If you see that the extra length of the strap is twisted and tucked onto the tied strap, just free this piece and to free it, you can twist it going the opposite direction  or free the coiled strap depending on how the strap was tucked in.  


Once the strap is uncoiled, make sure that you pull out all its length and there should not be any twist because this will now go through the windlass. Now you are ready to release the strap. 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

To release the hold of the spring-loaded dock onto the strap, push the clutch lever up all the way that it should align with the holding strap and pull up the spring-loaded dock to free its grip on the strap. You will feel at this instance a thud sound which tells you the tension has been released and you’ll see that the strap has gone limp.

You can now free and pull the strap from the ratchet and for more safety precautions, fold the strap properly and store it away in your toolbox. And these are the simple steps to how to undo the ratchet strap. 

Precautions When Using a Ratchet Strap


Now that you’ve learned how to use a ratchet strap and how to undo a ratchet strap, you must also know some ratchet safety tips because these strapping mechanisms are composed of metal gears, springs and locking mechanisms and if improperly used or managed can cause road hazards, accidents or damages. 

Keep your ratchet strap in a waterproof box.

waterproof box

This is to avoid the strap getting tangled up as well as to protect it from the harsh outdoor environment while not in use. Generally, straps for ratchets are made of 100% polyester and if this material gets exposed to moisture frequently, it becomes vulnerable to mold and mildew which can weaken the fabric. Direct sunlight can also slowly weaken the polyester fabric due to the damaging effects of UV rays.

Always check the lashing capacity of the unit

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

The lashing capacity of the ratchet strap means this is its maximum force capacity to handle the pulling force before it breaks. So depending on the type of cargo or load you are going to transport , always check the label to find the daN which means decaNewtons. This unit is the tension lashing capacity of the ratchet strap in kilograms so the higher the daN, the stronger the strap.

Check the certificate or quality standard the tool has passed.


 You now know how a ratchet strap works,but you must also consider how secure and reliable your ratchet strap is. To check this, your product must have a label of certification that complies with your country’s quality standard. 

Avoid using your ratchet strap in lifting heavy loads.

do not lift things 

All ratchet straps have the maximum elongation capacity to be able to stretch their material when securing heavy loads. However, if you use a ratchet strap in lifting, this capacity will far exceed this limit and the fabric of the strap can break. Literally, the lifting factor differs from the lashing factor and the ratchet straps are designed only for lashing purposes. 

Don’t use damaged ratchet straps.

Don’t assume that your unit is made to be heavy-duty because this can eventually weaken over the years. The normal  life of the ratchet straps can last for 2 – 4 years depending on the frequency of usage and how heavy the cargo it is used for. So the more you use your ratchet straps, the more it becomes vulnerable to damage and weakening. 

Myth in Using a Ratchet Strap That You Should Be Aware Of

Some people believe that twisting the ratchet strap every time you secure a load can help tighten its hold on the cargo. This is why many cargo transporters do one twist or even multiple twists on their straps thinking that their cargo is safer this way. However, this is wrong. 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

The thing is, if you twist a strap and tighten it, this will tend to vibrate and hum during transport, particularly in an open vehicle. Some people believe this is harmless. But according to experts, this makes the stretched strap vulnerable to sliding or movements because the strap itself is moving and having friction against the wind. Twisting can also hasten the wear and tear of the strap because you will be maximizing its lashing capacity while the strap is twisted. So what you must always do when lashing out cargo,is  that the strap must be in a flat and straight position so that it will go freely into the windlass when inserting it. So if you know how a ratchet strap works and you know how to use a ratchet strap, you will eventually feel that twisting the strap is not right.   


One thing you want to keep in mind when looking for ratchet straps is to base your judgment on the type of cargo you will use it for. So know its utmost capacity and the quality before buying. This blog teaches you everything you need to know starting from how does a ratchet strap work, how to use a ratchet strap down to how to undo a ratchet strap. 

So if ever you need to travel with  cargo, big or small and even if your cargo is inside a container, they should still be strapped in their pallets and secured in groups. 

How Does a Ratchet Strap Work

Ratchet straps are universal in use and they are always useful for all types of securing cargo or even for small loads that should not move especially while the carrier is in motion. So how Does a Ratchet Strap Work now you know.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *