How to Tie Down a UTV on a Trailer Safely in 3 Easy Steps
Unless you are among the few lucky ones who can drive their UTVs from their backyards directly to dunes, mud trails, and rock ledges, you probably have to load your off-road vehicle onto a trailer eventually. Even if you ride it on your property or have the legal right to take it out of your driveway and into the city towards your target, chances are you still have to carry the UTV from one place to another. For most UTVs, trucks are an efficient means of transportation. However, the newer wider models need a trailer. In other words, if you have a destination in mind, a trailer, and a side-by-side, it is time to learn how to tie down a UTV on a trailer safely and effectively to avoid any catastrophic event.
How to Tie down a UTV on a Trailer: 3 Steps
Assuming that you managed to safely load the side-by-side onto the trailer and situated it in place, let's see the steps you need to take to secure that your UTV stays in place for the entire duration of the transport.
1. Identify Attachment Points for Optimal UTV Tie-Down
If you are new to securing your UTV snuggly on a trailer to transport it on long distances, the first thing you need to do is identifying the best anchor points.
- Specialists recommend you use your UTV's frame, as it is the sturdiest part of your vehicle;
- You can also try the front bumper if your UTV comes with a firmly welded one;
- In case you choose the bumper as an anchoring point, make sure you also use the hitch for the back straps.
It would help if you remembered to avoid anchoring your UTV by the axles or the suspension as such a method might damage the vehicle. If physics still serves, you know you should always look for the lowest points of your UTV and your trailer's most further points for safe anchoring. You should also refresh your memory on proper cargo weight distribution if you are new to loading and transporting a vehicle on a trailer.
2. Use Four Strap Ratchet Tie-Downs
While many use only two straps to secure their vehicle, experts recommend you use four of them:
- Two go on your side (driver): one at the front and one at the rear;
- The other two go on your passenger's side: one at the front, one at the back.
When you need to transport your UTV from one place to the next, straps and ratchets' quality will make a world of difference. You may have bought a cheap UTV, but anchoring is not the department where you want to become frugal. You may have heard other off-road buffs praising the efficiency of ropes and chains, but we don't recommend it. Wide straps or webbing have excellent load bearing strengths, and you will find a handful of products on the market to meet your needs and budget.
Let's see what you need to do and know at this stage:
- The best way to tie down your side-by-side on your UTV trailer is to set the straps' angle sharper than 45 degrees;
- Make sure the straps never go over an edged, sharp surface. In time, they will tear apart and break down;
- You attach the straps first onto the UTV and then to the trailer;
- Once you hooked a strap to the frame, roll it out and tie down the other end on the trailer's anchoring spot;
- Use the ratchet to tighten the strap securely in place;
- Do the same for all four straps.
At this point, we have to make a short parenthesis and discuss other popular anchoring methods, as tire bonnets (wheel baskets) and wheel chocks are a common sight among UTV riders.
How to Tie Down a UTV on a Trailer Using Tire Bonnets
Before you use tire bonnets to anchor your UTV onto the trailer, make sure the front wheels rest tightly against the trailer's frontward lip. The design and governing principle of tire bonnets are that you can secure them to the deck behind the wheel.
- Take each tire bonnet and place it up and over the tire, making sure to center it on the rubber. The advantage you have compared to car drivers is that UTV tires are broader and rougher on the surface so that the bonnets can sit tight against the wheels;
- Ensure you cinch the bonnets in place but do not overtighten them to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the load as the UTV suspension starts compressing;
- Some suggest you should also use a safety chain between the trailer chassis and the UTV as an extra security measure.
The downside of using tire bonnets or wheel baskets is to find and buy specific products. You need to find bonnets with tie-down points that stand directly in front and behind the wheels. As you can quickly figure out, not all trailers allow this anchoring approach. Although extremely secure, this system is time-consuming and somewhat complicated, but use it if you find perfect compatibility among the side-by-side, the trailer, and the bonnets.
How to Tie Down a UTV on a Trailer Using Wheel Chocks
In case you did not know, a specialized wheel chock is a system using plates to bolt down on the deck. UTV owners use this system to align the side-by-side tires between the plates and secure them with webbing wraps. Since you now have metal brackets on each wheel, your side-by-side will not move an inch during transportation. Specialized wheel chocks coming with straps are secure anchoring systems. Usually, the straps are adjustable and usable with various old or new UTV models and tire sizes.
3. Inspect Your Work
The third step is crucial, no matter what type of anchoring you use. Using strap ratchet tie-downs and even tire bonnets will affect the UTV's suspension to some extent. Referencing physics again, you should know that your UTV will have a bounce during transportation if you choose the vehicle's lowest attachment points, as the suspension compresses to a minor degree. It should not worry you, as this is how manufacturers ship the side-by-sides in the first place.
Nevertheless, the overall inspection should focus on:
- Shaking your UTV and your trailer to take note of the anchoring's safety and bounce rate;
- Checking all the tie-downs to make sure nothing snaps, breaks, slides, or tears apart during transportation, especially if the road towards your destination is a bumpy ride;
- Taking the trailer for a test drive with the freshly mounted UTV on it around your property or back yard to see how they behave together in motion.
If you tied down your UTV onto the trailer in the backyard, it doesn't mean you can forget about it until you reach your destination. Security means keeping an eye on things while on the road as well. Check the towing equipment and the anchoring system at every gas station you stop at or during any break you take from driving. Make sure your speed is constant and moderate on both highways and off-road paths. The better you can avoid sudden maneuvers, the safer your UTV will sit on your trailer.Planning and preparation did not hurt anyone. And now that you know how to tie down a UTV on a trailer, all we can say is have plenty of fun on your adventure!