How to Unlock Ratchet Straps

by Thomas West

Ratcheting tie down straps are used to secure loads against movement when being hauled. Sturdy “S” hooks at each end of the strap allow for easy connection to the load hooks in your vehicle or to the load itself. The ratchet handle is then moved to tighten the strap against the cargo to ensure that there is no unwanted shifting of your items while en route. Unlocking a tightened down strap once at your destination can be a challenge if you do not follow the correct procedure.


Move the spring-loaded center latch toward the ratchet handle using two fingers.


While continuing to hold the center latch, rotate the ratchet handle 180 degrees to the open position.


Release the center latch.


Pull the entire ratchet assembly away from the load to loosen the strap. Pull the loosened strap away from the ratchet and out of the slot at the center of the ratchet assembly. Remove the strap from the load.


Move the center latch with your fingers and rotate the ratchet handle 180 degrees back to the starting position to ready it for its next use.


  • check Correct placement of the ratchet assembly when securing your load will make it easier to unlock at your destination. Place the ratchet assembly as close to the center of your cargo as possible, with the ratchet handle facing outward (away from the load). Insert the strap into the slot at the center of the ratchet assembly and pull it through, leaving plenty of slack. Move the ratchet handle in a back and forth motion to tighten the strap against the load.
  • check To keep any excess strap from flying about while you are under way, wrap it around the tightened portion of the strap and tie it off.

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