How to Secure a Car to a Trailer

Updated March 23, 2017

Properly securing your car on a trailer is necessary for safe transportation. A poorly secured car could unbalance the trailer or roll off the trailer, causing damage or injury to other motorists. Securing your car on the trailer is a combination of proper position on the trailer, ensuring trailer balance, and immobilising the car with support straps or chains. The goal is to disallow shifting of the vehicle without unnecessarily weighting the tongue of the trailer down or causing it to tilt back.

Lower the ramps on the trailer and carefully drive your car onto the ramp. Make certain the car is centred above the trailer axles and in the middle of the trailer's width.

Engage the car's emergency break and keep the car in gear when you turn off the engine.

Attach one end of your tie strap to a solid area in the front of your vehicle. Most cars have a tow attachment area on the front, which can be located by consulting your owner's manual. You can also loop over the front wheel supports, but be careful not to clamp any additional wires, lines or sway bars when you do so. Attach the other end to the trailer's tie-down support brackets, located in front of the car. Using two straps, one on either side of the car, will help secure it further. Ratchet the mechanism on the strap until the tie-strap is taut, but don't over-tighten it yet, since you have not secured the back.

Secure the back of the vehicle in the same manner you did the front, using more tie-straps. These straps can be attached to the tow supports or over the rear axle. The other end will be attached to the supports located behind your vehicle. It is important that the front and back straps are pulling in opposite directions, i.e., the front pulls forward and the back pulls back. You can ratchet the back side more thoroughly, since the forward end is secured.

Tighten the forward tie-straps again to ensure there is no slack in the straps.

Position the wheel tie-downs over the wheels and hook the ends into the dedicated mounts installed in the trailer floor. These mounts should be positioned within a couple of feet in front and behind the wheels. Ratchet the mechanism on the wheel tie-downs to secure the wheel from moving, which will also prevent the car from rolling.

Repeat the installation of wheel tie-downs on all the wheels, if additional secure points are available on your trailer.

Perform one more check to ensure all straps are tight. After driving for 15 minutes, stop and check one last time to make sure the car hasn't shifted and caused slack in the tie-downs. Ratchet any tie-downs that require re-tightening.


It is always better to over-secure your car with excessive straps, rather than skimp on the process.


Do not use wheel chocks unless they are roped together and secured to the trailer. Otherwise, these can fly off the trailer and injure other motorists.

Things You'll Need

  • Tie straps with ratcheting mechanism
  • Wheel tie-downs with ratcheting mechanism
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