When you need to secure cargo in the back of your trailer, truck, van, or SUV, then tie downs and tow straps are going to be your new best friend. These sturdy and dependable pieces of material will help keep your cargo or vehicle where you want them. Whether you’re securing a vehicle in place for transport, or simply hauling your friend’s couch to their new apartment, tie downs and tow straps will make a tough job much simpler.

Tie Downs

While tie downs and tow straps may have the same or very similar material, these items are used to solve different problems. Tie downs are generally long, flat pieces of woven material that are used to secure items in the back of an open vehicle or trailer, and include a way to tighten down the hold.

Tow Straps

Tow straps are often also made of a heavy-duty woven material, but may be configured in such a way that they specifically hold tires in place, or strap down a vehicle for recovery. Their capacity can be enormous: up to 50,000 lbs or up to a 100,000 lbs working capacity for sling recovery straps. These high-end straps are often built specifically to haul vehicles or to fit race car trailers and are generally used in hauling cars and equipment.

Sturdy Hardware is Important

The hardware that goes along with the material is of the utmost importance – it doesn’t matter how strong the material is if you have a weak and flimsy attachment part. You’ll want to be sure that you’re getting a high quality and very sturdy hardware when you’re searching for either tie downs or tow straps. Hardware could include everything from vinyl-coated S-hooks to keep from scratching your vehicle to buckles that prevent slippage when you’re tightening up the straps.

Ratchet Straps

One of the easiest to use tie downs are called ratchet straps – so called because they allow the ability to “ratchet” up the tightness of the strap quickly and easily with hardware that is integrated into the overall strap itself. These straps work in a similar way to a belt buckle, only they don’t have holes so you are not limited to a certain length.

Keeping your cargo in place can be easy as long as you have the correct tools for the job!

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 4 Essential Things to Know About Tie Downs and Tow Straps and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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