Ratchet straps and tie downs are the preferred methods for securing cargo because they are sturdy and fit into multiple applications—flatbeds, vans, trailers, and pickup trucks. As long as you have the appropriate straps and tie downs in your arsenal, you can rest assured that your cargo will safely reach its designated place.
However, these objects suffer wear and tear through rubbing and sharp corners. If not properly treated, they will malfunction over time. Therefore, you need to inspect them regularly to identify problems and develop an effective maintenance strategy to extend their working lives as well as ensure a safe trip each time.
Here are a few tips for inspecting and cleaning tie downs and ratchet straps.
Most people only look for tears, holes, and knots on their ratchet straps and tie downs. However, there are less-obvious symptoms of wear you should always look out for.
- Weld splatter or any evidence of charring and melting
- Broken stitching
- Sun damage ( faded color or stiff webbing)
- Acid, alkali, or chemical burning
- Particles embedded in the webbing
- Pits, cracks, cam buckles, signs of corrosion, hooks, and other fittings
- Work load limit and break strength tags: these must be visible
- Unusual webbing patterns at the contact point with the fitting
If you discover any of these issues, replace the tie downs and straps altogether. While you are at it, you might want to record the inspection and keep the information in a file. You can use a note book or an electronic database on your computer. These records (including photos, dates, repairs, etc.) will make it easy to refer to during the next maintenance session.
When it comes to how often you should inspect your tie downs and ratchet straps, experts recommends doing it before service and each time the strap needs to be used.
- The Ratcheting Mechanism
The ratcheting mechanism is the most important part of a ratchet strap. For starters, you should inspect it regularly to identify any damage to it. Secondly, you should regularly clean it using a brush to remove dirt and debris that found their way to the inside of it. Lubrication is also important to keep moving parts in optimal function. However, try to keep dirt away from the webbing to avoid more dust and dirt that can lead to webbing binding. Last but not least, your mechanism should always be water-free to avoid rusting.
- The Webbing
The webbing part of your ratchet strap or tie down needs some TLC as well. Check for any tears, rips, and frayed fibers after ever use. You can consider using rubber corner snap protectors to curb snapping. Furthermore, you need to clean the webbing to extend its shelf life. Use warm water, soap and a scrub for the job.
Storage of tie downs and ratchet straps is another crucial maintenance facet. Here are some ratchet strap storage tips:
- Keep them away from sunlight to avoid discoloration and weakening the integrity of the webbing.
- Coil the webbing on the ratcheting mechanism after use and secure it in place using a rubber band or a Velcro strap.
- Drop it inside a fabric or plastic bag and store it in a clean and dry place.
Ratchet straps and tie downs may be strong and durablebut if not well maintained, they can wear down over time. Thankfully, a little dedication and commitment to doing regular inspection and maintenance will enhance their longevity and safe trips.