The time has come where you want to take your ATV on a little excursion; maybe it’s for an extended weekend or just a day trip. Maybe you are transporting it just a few miles away, or potentially crossing boarders to explore a new trail.
Either way, securely tying down your ATV onto a trailer is extremely crucial, so we want to share some important tips on how to load, transport, and unload your ATV safely and securely.
Before you start mounting or strapping anything, start with the obvious (or maybe not so obvious)
Make sure the loading area is level
It’s much harder to load your ATV onto a trailer when the area is not level. If you’re on an incline or decline area, try to find a nearby surface with no grade to it.
Also, if any of the four tires of the trailer are at different heights, or if one of them is not completely touching the ground, then do not load the ATV.
It’s a much safer process if you find a flat surface with no grade.
Securing the loading ramp to the trailer
Take out your ramp and securely hook it to the trailer. Some ramps have better designs than others, but we will be securing it even more in just a sec.
I like the one below for several reasons
- extremely sturdy aluminum construction
- wide ramp to avoid uneven balance
- collapsible for easy storage
- long 82” ramp
If you like the features it has, you can pick up this ramp on Amazon here.
Once the ramp has been placed onto the trailer then you must secure the ramp in place with ratchet straps.
Take the straps and secure one end around the aluminum grid towards the top of the ramp. The other end should be secured around the trailer.
Tighten the ratchet until the ramp is securely in place and doesn’t move when firmly shaken.
I like the tie down straps from Strapright because they are easy to use and are made of a long lasting, heavy duty polyester. You can find the straps on Amazon here.
Repeat the process on the other side of the ramp as well.
Both sides of the ramp should now be securely fastened to the trailer.
Do not skip this step. Simple physics will tell you that if the ramp is simply placed on the trailer without being securely fastened, the force of the ATV can cause the ramp to slide out from underneath you causing the ramp and quad to fall to the ground.
What if only two tires were on the ramp? The quad could potentially flip backwards.
Loading the ATV onto ramp
Great, the ramp is securely in place.
Make sure to remove any heavy cargo from the ATV so as to not weigh it down. You want to be able to easily mount it onto the trailer.
Before going any further, make sure your safety gear is on – gloves, goggles and helmets should be worn at a very minimum.
Next, place your vehicle into 4-wheel drive mode and make sure it’s in a low gear. This will help prevent the quad from making jerk movements if the gas is pressed down too much. The lower gear will produce more torque and will help you get up the ramp more smoothly.
Lean forward with both feet on the foot rests or nerf bars, gently and uniformly giving gas to the engine. If you find yourself stuck on the incline, gently give the vehicle more gas until you’re moving forward.
If you’re concerned you might accidentally give the quad too much gas while sitting on the incline then simply back up until all four wheels are on the ground and try approaching the ramp with slightly more speed and momentum.
Once you’ve made it completely onto the ramp, put the quad into park and turn off the engine.
Now it’s time to strap it down!
Strapping It Down!
Now that the ATV is firmly on top of the trailer we need to secure it in place so that it does not shift, fall or topple over during transport. Not only can you cause a severe accident with a vehicle that falls off a trailer, but you can also get into trouble with the law.
It’s much better to be prudent and take precaution than it is to be sorry.
You’ll only need one item for this (well, four of the same item) but once you’re done the quad won’t be going anywhere.
First, using your ratchet straps, throw one strap through the front frame of the vehicle. Don’t throw the strap around the axle as it can cause damage, the frame is much sturdier and can resist more tension and pressure.
If you don’t own any ratchet straps, I like to use the ones from Strapright because they are made of a heavy duty polyester and they are affordable. You can find them on Amazon here.
Now that you have it through the frame, hook both ends of the straps to the trailer frame. There should be numerous holes in the frame to allow for this.
Grab the ratchet and make sure there is very little slack in the strap and begin tightening the strap with the ratchet.
There is no need to get very tight, once you see the force of the rope bringing down the ATV, it’s tight enough.
Repeat the process with the other three straps remembering not to strap them down too much.
Any dangling material should be wrapped around the straps so that they don’t flutter in the air.
That’s all that needs to be done to secure the ATV to the trailer but now you should check the trailer itself to make sure the brake lights work properly.
I know it may seem like overkill, but just like the tail lights on your car need to work properly, so do the ones on your trailer. If not, the cops will definitely be there to remind you.
If your trailer has a gate, make sure to secure the gate in a locked position before driving off (embarrassing!)
*** If you don’t have ratchet straps, do not use ropes as an alternative method of tying down an ATV
- ropes can stretch
- they rip, tear, unravel and fall apart
- ratchet straps are easier to tie and untie
- since they are wider than rope, they distribute load better
- and best reason of all, there are no knot tying skills involved with ratchet straps
When in motion
Although unlikely, tension on the straps can loosen during the drive, make sure to check the tension about 10-15 miles after starting your trip.
If you see that the straps have given a little, re-tighten the straps again to make sure the vehicle cannot sway in any direction. The less movement the better.
Unloading ATV from ramp
When unloading, you’ll again want to make sure that the trailer is on a level plain. All 4 tires should be at the same height and the trailer shouldn’t be on any kind of a grade.
If this isn’t the case, look around you to see if there is a small area that has a flat unloading surface so you can safely unload the ATV. Put on your gear – gloves, goggles and helmets and make sure that nothing is directly behind your ATV before you begin backing it up.
Loosen and remove the ratchet straps from all four ends of the trailer and store them in their proper place.
You’ll also need to place the ramp onto the trailer and secure it in place just as you did when before you loaded the ATV onto the ramp in the first place.
To unload the ATV onto the ground you aren’t going to jump on it, instead, with the ATV in neutral gear, you’re going to stand in front of it.
Holding onto the brakes, gently push the ATV down the ramp, controlling the speed if it goes too fast. Once all four tires are on the ground, put the parking brake on and walk around the ATV.
Now is the time you can jump on, turn on the ATV and reverse it into an area away from the trailer so you can put the ramp away and load all the cargo back onto your ATV.
Now you’re ready to go have a blast!