Prototyping a New ATV / UTV Tie Down System for Trailers

The ATV / UTV tie down system

is now available for purchase here!

I have a couple of ATVs, and I have a trailer, but until today I didn’t have a system for mounting those ATVs for secure transport. Oh, sure I could use ratcheting straps. But who really wants to rely on a couple of nylon straps when it comes to keeping a $10,000 or $20,000 vehicle from falling off on the highway and potentially killing a bunch of people? Not me.

Developing a New Lever-Based Steel Tension System

Goals for the project were as follows:

  • Insure any mechanical connection between the trailer and the ATV is steel.
  • Have a mechanism for partially compressing the suspension to keep ATVs from bouncing.
  • Allow the system to be removable so as not to interfere with other uses for the trailer.
  • Strength, simplicity and cost effectiveness.

At the end of the day, the best way to secure an ATV to a trailer is to be able to pull the vehicle straight down from the front center and rear center. This allows the tires plenty of friction to resist sliding, and mitigates the potential risk that comes from pulling the ATV to either side if one strap were to break (launching the vehicle in the opposite direction).

Introducing the new ATV Trailer Tie Down System

Since both of my ATVs have built-in winches, the front component makes use of the winch by providing a secure mounting ring.

Simply put the ATV or UTV in position, connect the winch, and snug the front end down.

The rear component makes use of the built-in receiver hitch as a strong mounting point. First, a baseplate is secured to the deck of the trailer which accommodates a removable ratcheting attachment.

Next, the attachment slides into the baseplate and two redundant chains attach to the receiver hitch.

Finally a tensioning lever is lowered, compressing the rear suspension, and a pin is inserted to lock the lever in place.

By lowering and locking the tensioning lever the ATV suspension compresses several inches, which is just enough to keep the vehicle firmly planted and ensure there is absolutely zero side to side movement during transport.

Final Thoughts

All methods of vehicle transport have benefits and drawbacks. What I like most about this system is that it completely eliminates the potential risk of a strap popping off, either due to breakage, or due to the vehicle “bouncing” a strap loose.

The one potential drawback of this mounting system is that if the vehicle lacks a Parking gear, or locking brakes, there is the potential for some front to rear movement during acceleration and braking. So depending on the ATV / UTV the system may need to be augmented by some sort of wheel chock to prevent rocking.

If you’re interested in one of the systems for your trailer, you can find them on the product page here.

8 thoughts on “Prototyping a New ATV / UTV Tie Down System for Trailers

  1. Texas Metal Works, I am interested in one of your UTV Tie Down Systems for a trailer. Please email me the specs and your cost using your lowering and tensioning lever system.

  2. Looks great, have you done anything different with the front attachment. I have a side-by-side CamAm with a plow so the winch wouldn’t work.

  3. Tripped over this site.. a couple comments. There are jurisdictions where it is illegal to use the winch as a tie down. Iā€™m wondering about the static downforce on the hitch where a hitch is engineered to be strongest pulling, will a UTV hitch be robust enough to hold a chain tightener.

    1. Valid observations. As far as the jurisdictional concern goes, I suppose everyone will have to check on that locally. And if anyone was planning on a cross country trip or something I wouldn’t rely on a winch for days of towing without a secondary strap… just in case.

      As far as the strength of the hitch is concerned, you’re correct that hitches have a much higher towing rating. Usually an ATV hitch is rated in the 1,000-2,000 pound range. They also have ratings based on the tongue weight. These might usually be in the 150-250 pound range. But the tongue rating and tow ratings are generally dependent on the engine, transmission, gearing, suspension and braking systems of the unit, not the strength of the actual steel hitch systems.

      Even a reasonably welded hitch should easily handle vastly more downforce than can be generated here. And handle it indefinitely. Remember, a tongue rating of say 200 lbs is accounting for a trailer bouncing up and down putting significant forces on the hitch – something that isn’t happening with this sort of tie down system.

      So if it’s not legal in someone’s area, or they just don’t trust the winch as a tie down, they can always use the lever style in front and rear. And I think the odds of failure are significantly less than any soft strap. (Given reasonable care and routine inspection, etc.)

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