Proper way to tie down a load, showing a semi truck hauling large PVC pipe tied down with tie down straps.

Properly tying down your load is essential for safe and legal transport. It helps to protect your truck and bed, as well as the integrity of the products you are transporting. Below are some basics in terms of securing your cargo.

Know Your Weight Limits

Most states have an 80,000-pound loading limit, but odds are your load will fall well beneath that limit. Avoiding overloading means you will be safer, not putting undue pressure on your axles, and not risking the costly fines that come with being overweight. Your goal is to transport your full load, but always err on the side of caution. It is also imperative that you check the load limits on your truck tires, and never pass a required weighing station, even when you are close to capacity.

Proper Weight Distribution

Aside from overall weight, you must factor in weight distribution when hauling heavy machinery or other uneven loads. For example, lumber will be fairly even, but cars or mixed goods can vary greatly. If your weight is too far forward, it will negatively impact your steering. If your weight is too far back on the trailer, it will make it more difficult to control your braking, traction, and steering. You may not know the weight of each item, but a visual inspection of the suspension will clue you in. Look for even suspension on all sides. Uneven loads can also lead to unnecessary (timely and costly) damage and repairs and will negatively impact fuel efficiency.


Tying Down Your Load

Before you begin securing your load, you need to know how much it weighs, as well as your truck, trailer, and equipment capacity. To do this, divide the total cargo weight by the capacity of the individual tie-downs to figure out how many are needed to secure the load. You may use any combination of straps, chains, and chain binders for each load, but you must first calculate how many you need. There are many chain and strap grades, each with its own weight capacity. However, weight is not the only factor, as chains may damage your cargo, leaving straps as your only option. Therefore, you always see straps on 2x4s, but chains on raw lumber. Also, learn to master the trucker’s hitch knot.

FMCSA – Drivers Handbook – General Cargo Securement

Extra Straps and Chains

Straps and chains are designed to be durable, but they work just as hard as you do. Keep at least a few of each on hand, just in case, and turn them into headquarters or replace them when they are damaged or when they begin to show signs of wear and tear.

If quick math is not your specialty, carry a calculator or use the calculator on your smartphone or in-cab electronics. When properly loaded and tied down, you should feel no shifting or control issues when driving. If you do, immediately pull over to assess the situation.


Written by Hunter Tires Editorial Team

Hunter Tires Sells Commercial Vehicle Tires.