How To Tie Down A UTV On A Trailer

It goes without saying that every payload needs to be secured appropriately. But it cannot be overstated how important this is when transporting a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV).

Weighing up to 2,000 pounds, a poorly secured UTV can affect the stability and safety of both you and your vehicle. 

Improperly tied down with ropes, cables, or chains, one side of the UTV can shift and cause the towing vehicle to lose control. If it breaks free entirely, the results can be truly catastrophic for every road participant.

To avoid any unfortunate events, continue reading this article to discover the best tools and methods for tying down a UTV. By the end, you will be able to competently secure your vehicle and tow it to the next trail with confidence.

Prepare The Trailer

Before we delve into the process of tying down the UTV, we must first go over the required gear to ensure everything is in order. Utility terrain vehicles are larger and heavier than the smaller ATV (quad) cousin, weighing 1000 pounds at the lower end. In combination with the dimensions of a small car, UTVs can’t be loaded onto the cargo bay of a pickup truck and instead require custom-built or a standard car trailer. 

Make sure you are aware of the towing capacity of your vehicle, as exceeding it can be dangerous and may lead to hefty fines. Take a look at the information plate located inside the engine bay or on the B-column facing towards the front of the car. Before joining the public roads, have someone monitor the trailer lights while you test out turn signals and stop lights. 

With that out of the way, you can set up the loading ramps to the appropriate width and load the vehicle. Even those with a lot of experience with trailering should have someone spot them as they drive up the ramp. Take it slow and try to approach the trailer as straight as possible. 

Depending on the weight distribution, you might want to load the UTV backward. You want more weight in the front to put a slight burden on the tongue. If the payload is too far back, it could lift the trailer, potentially causing handling and stability issues. Too far front and the burden on the suspension and tongue can cause damage. 

Get The Right Gear

UTVs are relatively light compared to other vehicles, giving you more options for proper tying down. Take the trailer’s design into consideration before you buy any gear, as its design often limits some of the methods. 

Ratchet straps are the tried and true method of tying down just about anything on a trailer. An average strap has a static bearing of 5 tons and a lashing capacity of 2.5 tons, so a set of four can handle a UTV with ease.

Available in every hardware store or online, a set will cost you about $50. The standard width is 50 mm or roughly 2 inches, with several options for length. Although the strap on its own can handle the job, a few accessories can improve the grip. Anti-slip blocks are used for added grip when ratcheting the strap over the length of the tire, while a short tow strap is used to create a loop that can surround the wheel. 

Prepare The Ratchet And Strap

Most of the methods for tying down the UTV are very trivial in complexity and should only take a few minutes once it becomes a routine job. Initially, a majority of your time will be figuring out how the ratcheting system works. 

The ratchet and strap often come separately out of the box, so you will need to connect them. Feel free to test out the ratchet and figure out how it works. It is a simple mechanism for one-handed operation, featuring a release bar with finger grips on the handle. 

Open the ratchet fully and position the release bar away from you while the center cylinder slot faces you. If you plan to tie over the length of the tire, be sure to place the anti-slip blocks on the strap before proceeding to the next step.

Take the strap, slot it from the bottom, and then slide it from the top underneath the release bar. Some straps have a universal hook, while others need to be indexed correctly, so check the alignment of the hook before slotting the strap. While the release is open, pull through the excess length of the strap. Now, you are ready to secure your UTV. 

Tie Down The UTV

Strapping the lower control arm of the UTV to the trailer is a foolproof method that is also the most straightforward task to accomplish. If you are not worried about chipping the paint from metal-to-metal contact, attach the hook of the longer strap directly to the arm. Otherwise, place the double-loop strap around the arm, put one end through another and pull. You can then attach the hook to the loose loop. 

The ratchet side should be connected to the closest side of the trailer, with an excess strap pulled through by hand. Release the lock, and start cranking until you feel the tension. Repeat the task for every side, then do another round of ratcheting for reinforcement. 

The over-the-tire method requires you to place a few anti-grip blocks on the strap, as well as an additional hook facing opposite of the longer side’s hook. This formation goes over the wheel, with the hooks leading into the flooring of the trailer as close to the tire as possible. Be sure to spread some pads over the top (two or three should get the job done).

The ratchet side needs to be attached toward the other side of the UTV at a slight angle to allow you to ratchet without hitting the underside. This method is trickier as it requires you to align everything correctly, avoid tangling the ratchets on either side and have appropriate holes on the trailer floor. 

With a few double-loop straps and typically twice as many ratchets, you can create a web-like form that goes over the wheel. This method is a bit overkill, as even full-size cars can be secured effectively with either of the previous methods.

If the trailer has neither floor nor front or back hook slots, you will need to secure the wheels to the side of the trailer. Take the longer end of the strap and slot it twice through the short double-loop strap. Create a large enough loop to go over the wheel, and then connect both hooks (either at the center of the wheel or the opposite sides, with plenty of room between them.)

Summary

By grasping the steps necessary to tie down a UTV on a trailer safely, you will not only grow more competent, but you will also learn a valuable skill you can apply to any qualified vehicle in the future. Using the right trailer, correctly distributing the weight, and buying quality ratchet straps are just as important. Therefore, ensure you have the right gear for a safe tow.