If you've just taken up a new hobby, you may be looking forward to some exciting motorsport competition in your new race or rally car. You have kitted yourself out with a van and trailer and are now starting to look at accessories, so that you are ready for your first trip to a racing circuit next weekend. In order to make sure that you are safe and secure on the road when towing your rig, you need to ensure that the car and any accessories are tied down properly. For this, you need to look at ratchet straps, but there are a wide variety available. What are the best tools in your particular case?

What Are the Options? 

Firstly, look at standard ratchet straps which come generally in two different configurations. The first option will have metal "claw" hooks which are very strong, while the other will have hooks that are in the shape of the letter "S." Typically, this latter option is plastic coated so that it doesn't do any damage to your vehicle's new paintwork and comes in a variety of different lengths and widths according to your needs.

Usually, race and rally competitors choose to secure their vehicles to a trailer by using wheel ratchet straps. Once again, these come with the swivel hook or claw and there are many different designs. For example, you can choose one which has a "sleeve" which fits over the front of the vehicle's wheel and thus keeps the car safe without causing any damage to those expensive rims. You simply feed the straps through the sleeve and wrap around the wheel for security. Alternatively, you could opt for a system that loops over the top of the tyre and thus doesn't come into contact with any suspension parts, which may make it difficult to attach the aforementioned option.

Understanding the Specification 

Ratchet straps are purpose made for the job and are tested to ensure that they can deal with significant forces. They will typically come with an information label which details the load ratings and a lot of other information. In particular, look for the "lashing" capacity which tells you the maximum load limit when under pressure and this takes into account sudden vehicle movements and even weather conditions, such as a headwind. Note that the lashing capacity is less than the minimum breaking strength, but is designed to give you some leeway.

Most straps these days are made from polyester because it is resistant to weather and lasts a long time. It's also widely chosen because it won't cause any damage to the goods you are retaining.

Fitting the Straps 

Once you've chosen ratchet straps, make sure that you are very familiar with the way that they work and know how to secure them properly. Always remove the slack completely until the strap is tight and never leave any "give" because you think that this may be a better approach. Finally, get into the habit of checking the security of the load as you travel and schedule an early stop during the first journey, so that you can see if your handiwork is up to scratch.

Getting Your Supply 

Have a word with the dealer who supplies you with your trailer accessories, to see what ratchet straps they recommend in your particular case.