How To Use Stanley Ratchet Straps [Inc. Tightening, Loosening, & Anchoring]

Did you recently come into ownership of a set of Stanley ratchet straps, but you're not quite sure how to use them? Well, you've come to the right place. We've put together this guide to help you learn how to use your new ratchet straps quickly and easily.

  • Tightening - Open the ratchet all the way and insert the strap.
  • Loosening - Press the release lever, splay out the ratchet, and pull the strap through.
  • Anchoring - Anchor the hooks to the frame of the vehicle.

You're probably wondering how to work the ratchet to create the desired tension. And where is the best place to hook the ends of the ratchet straps? Keep reading to learn all about Stanley ratchet straps and how they work.

Are Stanley Ratchet Straps Easy To Use?

Red ratchet strap fixing wood boards, How To Use Stanley Ratchet Straps [Inc. Tightening, Loosening, & Anchoring]

All ratchet straps have a learning curve involved with proper use, the same can be said about Stanley's products.

Ratchet straps tend to cause a lot of frustration for new users, but they offer excellent hold and are very reliable. The good news is, once you learn how to use them, they become second nature to most and will be a terrific addition to your garage.

STANLEY S9500 Ratchet Straps

These Stanley ratchet straps are rated for up to a 300-pound load. Each strap is 1 inch wide and  10 feet long and it comes in a set of four.

Click here to take a look at these ratchet straps on Amazon.

1. Tightening

To tighten your ratchet straps, you'll need to start by opening the ratchet by pressing the release lever. The lever is at the top of the ratchet and is usually pretty noticeable.

Once the ratchet is open, insert the end of the strap into the lower opening in the ratchet and pull it through until it becomes tight. Now you can pump the lever on the ratchet to finish tightening it for a more secure hold.

2. Loosening

To loosen your ratchet straps, press the release lever and splay the ratchet out so it's straight. Now you can pull the strap through the mechanism to loosen it up and easily remove your cargo. Be careful not to let the strap twist as you pull it through the ratchet, as this can cause it to get stuck in the mechanism.

3. Anchoring

To properly anchor your ratchet straps, you'll want to hook them directly to the frame of the vehicle or truck bed. Make sure the location is sturdy and has no rust or rot. Make sure wherever you place the hooks is stable enough to hold the hook and the weight of the load as it shifts while you travel.

Can You Over-Tighten A Ratchet Strap?

Tie down strap ratchet on wood

Yes, over-tightening a ratchet strap can cause damage to your vehicle, to the item you're transporting, and even to the ratchet strap. Over-tightening can also make it more difficult to remove the strap later if you don't leave enough slack. You want your cargo to be secure but not completely immovable.

How Tight Should Ratchet Straps Be?

The cargo is held by tension safety belts with mechanical locks

Stop tightening your ratchet strap once your cargo feels taut. You should be able to slip a finger under the strap without struggling too much to get underneath it. It shouldn't be loose enough for your cargo to move while driving or turning. 

Should You Cross Ratchet Straps?

Using multiple ratchet straps and crossing them is a great way to transport large or heavy items, but it can cause complications. If one of the straps comes off or lets loose for some reason, it could put more pressure on the other strap and its anchor points. This can cause damage to your vehicle, your cargo, and other drivers too.

What Do The Lines On Ratchet Straps Mean?

The lines that run the length of the strap indicate the strength of the material. They're typically red and the number of lines represents the strength of the strap, which is very important for hauling cargo or for construction personnel.

A single red line stands for a strength of up to 5,000 pounds per inch. A double red line means that the strap can hold 6,000 pounds per inch.

Trailer strap in orange nylon and metal, object helping for holding stuff, storage and transport for safety and security

What Are The Alternatives To Ratchet Straps? 

There are several options that you can employ if you want to avoid the hassle of learning how to use ratchet straps.

Rope is a reliable method of tying items down, but it can be tricky to find a suitable anchor point. Cam buckle straps are very similar to ratchet straps and even operate in a similar manner. Bungee cords are a great alternative for lighter loads and smaller items, they're easy to use, and work well to keep items secure.

GoEasy0312 Premium Bungee Cords 

This set of 20 bungee cords comes with an assortment of sizes and strengths for different load sizes. It's a great starter kit and the quantity allows you to spread them across multiple vehicles so you always have one available.

Click here to take a look at these bungee cords on Amazon.

Why Do You Twist Ratchet Straps?

A popular method of applying ratchet straps involves a "half-twist" which allows the strap to slightly twist along the length of the tie down.

This method helps to prevent damage that could be caused by the straps rubbing together or rubbing against the edges of the cargo. It also prevents the strap from catching as much wind while driving, which will help reduce fraying.

Does Twisting A Ratchet Strap Weaken It?

Yes, twisting ratchet straps does weaken the overall strength, but it doesn't have an enormous impact. As long as you're aware of the weight of your load and compensate by choosing the right ratchet strap, it should work out fine.

You should also avoid over-twisting the straps. You only want a gentle twist when you're hauling large or heavy loads; over-twisting results in a greater chance of damage.

What Is The Best Way To Store Ratchet Straps?

Ratchet straps should be kept in a dry place, away from windows and other sources of moisture. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight too, as the UV damage can weaken the material and cause it to break unexpectedly. A good waterproof duffel bag or an opaque plastic tote are great ways to store ratchet straps.

VehicleX Ratchet Strap Kit

This set of ratchet straps comes with a nifty case that will keep your straps out of the sun and dry. It also keeps them well organized for easy access and storage.

Click here to check out this set of straps on Amazon.

What Do You Do With Extra Strap Material After Tie Down?

Tension safety belts with mechanical locks

If you still have a good length of your ratchet strap hanging off the back of your vehicle, you'll need to get it up off the ground and safely tucked away before you start driving.

To do this, you can roll it up tightly, leaving a hole in the center of the roll large enough for the strap to go through. Use the last foot of the strap to loop through the center hole and tie it in a good strong knot.

Can You Hook Two Ratchet Straps Together?

With most ratchet straps, it isn't recommended to hook two lengths together to achieve a longer strap, as this can be very dangerous if the equipment isn't made to do so.

There are some brands that offer this option because they have ends that can lock together, but it should not be attempted unless this is the case. Without a proper way to attach the two straps, they could easily come apart, and you risk losing whatever it was you were hauling.

How Often Should You Replace Ratchet Straps?

It's standard advice to replace your ratchet straps every 2 to 4 years. If the straps are used often, they will need replacement more often. For straps that are only used sparingly, you can expect them to last closer to 4 years. If your straps are showing signs of wear, fraying, or UV damage, they need to be replaced.

Can You Tie A Car Down With Ratchet Straps?

Yes, as long as the straps have the proper rating for the weight of the vehicle you will be hauling. Flatbed tow trucks often use ratchet straps to secure the vehicles they're transporting.

Make sure you check the weight limit and tensile strength recommendations on your straps and compare them to the make and model of the vehicle you're going to move.

In Closing

Now that you know all about using Stanley ratchet straps and how to operate them safely, you're ready to test them out. Don't forget to pay close attention to the rating of your straps and how much weight they can actually hold. Good luck, and be safe.

For help figuring out how to transport large cargo, read our article: Can A Sectional Fit In A Pickup Truck Or Cargo Van?

To learn about RYOBI tools and customer care, read our article: Do RYOBI Tools And Batteries Have A Warranty?

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