How to feed ratchet straps

Updated July 20, 2017

A ratchet strap is a tightening device that increases tension every time the ratchet is tightened. The ratchet uses a gear-locking mechanism to hold it in place after every turn. Ratchet straps are commonly used to secure loads during transportation and to prevent cargo from shifting. Once the main strap is connected to one end of the load carrier, the other end is threaded through the strap. The ratchet strap then tightens the strap across the load.

Connect one end of the strap to one side of the load carrier. Throw the strap across the top of the load.

Locate the release lever below the ratchet handle. Pull back and up on the release lever with your fingers. This will open the front feed route for the strap.

Feed the end of the strap through the opening of the windup spool below the release lever. The windup spool is the round pin that the strap will wind around.

Pull the end of the strap through the spool opening until about 12 inches of strap is hanging out the back end of the spool. Slide the end of the strap over the top of the spool.

Hold the front end of the strap tight with one hand and start tightening the ratchet with the other hand to remove any slack from the strap. Move the ratchet handle up and down to tighten the strap around the spool. Keep holding the front side of the strap tight while advancing the ratchet. Each time you turn up the ratchet handle, you will hear a clicking sound, caused by the ratchet gears sliding across one another.

Continue to hold the release lever up while ratcheting the strap across the load. Once the strap is tightly secured, release the lever. The teeth on the bottom of the release lever will prevent the strap from slipping out of the spool opening. If the ratchet has a locking lever on the side of the ratchet, lower the locking lever over one of the gears. This will prevent the gears from turning and loosening the slack from the strap.

To release the strap, pull up on the release handle and remove the tension from the strap by pulling out on the strap from the front of the ratchet. If the ratchet has a release lever, unlock the lever and then pull out on the strap from the front of the ratchet.


Different ratchets have different mechanisms but the same ratcheting procedure is used to tighten and loosen the strap. Be sure that the other side of the strap is connected to the load carrier before ratcheting the strap. When releasing the release handle, be sure that the teeth on the bottom of the handle grip into the strap. This will prevent the strap from unrolling from the spool.


Do not over-tighten the ratchet as this could cause either the strap or the ratchet to break. If the ratchet has a locking mechanism, be sure to use it or the strap could loosen and come off while the load carrier is travelling down the road.

Things You'll Need

  • Ratchet
  • Strap
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Kevin Mclain has more than 20 years of automotive, home improvement and landscaping experience. He has been writing for various online publications since 2002. Mclain has U.S. Army certification in automotive maintenance and repair, among more than 15 additional certifications related to the automotive field.