How to Use Tie Downs

How to Use Tie Downs
While pickup trucks are capable of transporting large loads in their open beds, an unsecured load is a serious road hazard. Even heavy items may fly out the bed of the truck due to strong winds, unexpected turns, or sudden starts or stops. Making sure your load is securely tied down before departure will protect other motorists from flying items, help keep you from getting a ticket, and spare you the trouble of trying to recover lost goods on a busy road.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Anchor or tie-down points
  • Wrench or ratchet
  • Tarp
  • Cargo net, bungees or tie-down straps
Step 1
Make sure you have solid tie-down points along the side rails of your truck bed. If your truck didn't come with tie-down points on the rails you can install movable anchor points or permanent aftermarket tie down points, available at most auto parts stores. Just tighten the anchor points in place with a wrench or ratchet.
Step 2
Place the heaviest items over the rear wheels of the pickup to improve traction; strive to distribute weight evenly between the left and right sides of the vehicle to help keep it balanced.
Step 3
Place a tarp over the items in the bed of your pickup. The tarp should be large enough to cover everything in the pickup, but not so large that the majority of it is left to flap in the wind.
Step 4
Consider using a cargo net to cover your goods; this is the easiest type of tie-down. Stretch the net across your items and hook its attachment points into the anchor points on the rails of your pickup bed.
Step 5
Fashion your own cargo net, if necessary, by criss-crossing bungees or tie-down straps across your load. Make sure that no heavy or bulky--even if lightweight--items are free of the cargo straps; you may need to use extra bungees to cover everything heavy or bulky underneath the tarp.
Step 6
Make sure that your bungees cover the load snugly, but haven't been stretched more than half their length. This sort of excessive stretching may place so much stress on the bungees that they break. Tighten any tie-down straps down snug to the load in the pickup bed.
Step 7
Tuck the tarp securely underneath the tie-downs or between the items in your pickup bed and the rails of the bed. Check to make sure there are no loose edges or corners that will flap and obscure your or other motorists' vision.
Step 8
Recheck your tie-down straps, bungees or netting, and the anchor points after the first half hour of driving to make sure that they are still secure.

Tips & Warnings

Most states require you to flag items that protrude beyond your truck bed. Tie a large strip of bright red cloth, plastic or flagging tape securely around the protruding items.
Don't stack items in the bed of the pickup so high that you can't see out the back window.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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