How to Loosen a Ratchet Strapby TJ Hinton
In a typical ratchet strap, the ratchet plate, which serves as the ratchet mechanism, will have a thumb-hole or tab placed near the handle. Grasp the handle and pull out on the ratchet plate to disengage the ratchet lock. While continuing to hold the plate fully out, rotate the ratchet handle towards the fully open, or flat, position until the plate bottoms against the spring-loaded pawl release. Push the ratchet handle open a little further to release the pawl while pulling the strap to unwind it. Close the ratchet handle to reset the assembly for the next use.
When the ratchets are hard to release, it's usually due to corrosion preventing the parts from moving freely. Lightly lubricate the contact surfaces of the moving parts with anti-seize where you can get at them, and sparsely apply spray lubricant using the applicator straw to reach the remaining friction areas. Operate the assembly to distribute the lubrication and return the ratchet to working order. Straps that are extremely tight can require quite a bit of effort to release; just make sure that the ratchet plate is bearing on the pawl release and not on the stop just before it.
TJ Hinton trained as an auto mechanic at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and then later graduated from MMI as a certified motorcycle mechanic . He's also worked for 20+ years in home construction, remodeling and repair. His articles appear on InternetAutoGuide.com and TopSpeed.com.