How to Release a Ratchet Strap

Put the scissors down, it's not time to cut that strap just yet.

Although useful, tie down straps can be a pain to use. When the ratcheting mechanism gets jammed, you might find yourself scratching your head wondering if there's any possible way to take it apart again.

Keep reading, and we'll show you step by step how to loosen ratchet straps.

1. The Ratchet isn't Fully Disengaged

We see this problem the most, the ratchet is either closed or partially closed.

Opening a Ratchet Strap

In order to release the strap from the ratchet, you must first make sure you have squeezed the manual pawl (seen below). This will lift the manual pawl and allow you to flatten the ratchet. Now, before you let go of the manual pawl, lift the main handle upwards. Keep lifting until the ratchet mechanism is as flat as you can possibly make it.

  1. Start Squeezing the Manual Pawl
  2. Pull the Handle Completely Flat
  3. Remove all of the Loose Strap

Now that it's flat, you may hear and feel the strap release. The only thing left for you to do is to pull the loosened strap out of the ratchet. If this didn't solve the problem, try following the next steps until your ratchet works again.

2. The Ratchet is Damaged or Rusty

Leaving your straps in the bed of your truck or trailer can quickly lead to rust buildup, when a worn-down ratchet rusts it may cause the pawls to stick, essentially making it harder to tighten or loosen the ratchet strap.

Rusty Ratchet Strap

There are two ways you can solve this problem. Firstly, the trick that solves just about any rust-related problem. Try spraying some WD-40 on the pawls. Then wiggle the handle while squeezing the manual pawl to try and break the ratchet lose, keep spraying WD-40 as needed. This may take some time to finally get your ratchet working correctly again, but if it's important cargo you need to release, you'll find it's time well spent.

  1. Spray WD-40 on the Ratchet
  2. Wriggle Until it Comes Loose
  3. If Still Stuck, Order a new Ratchet Strap

If your Ratchet Mechanism still won't budge and you can't fix it, you may want to consider ordering a new set of Ratchet Straps. If this is the case, check our our collection of heavy duty straps by clicking here. If you've already owned Rhino straps, give us a call and we'll ship you a new set with your Lifetime Warranty.

3. Your Ratchets Spool is Overloaded

This is another very common, and easy to fix problem we often hear about. You'll likely run into this problem if you didn't remove the slack before tightening your down your cargo or motorcycle.

Overloaded Ratchet Strap

Removing the slack prevents the spool from building up to big, if you tie-down your equipment right, you'll notice you have lot's of extra strap leftover. This is totally normal! You want to keep little strap actually wrapping around the spool, this way the pawls can function like they were meant to. As a matter of fact, an overloaded spool can be very dangerous, this makes it harder to tighten, lock, and will likely push on the automatic pawl.

  1. Disengage the Ratchet Mechanism
  2. Pull Hard on Unhooked Strap until Lose

Fixing this takes a bit of strength, as you're going to need to follow our first step of disengaging your ratchet mechanism. Then you're going to have to pull on the unhooked strap as hard as you possibly can to in order to get the strap to finally unwind from the spool.

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If you have attempted all of the above steps and your ratchet still won't work, it may finally be time to get the scissors out. Be sure that the equipment you have tied down is safely secured before you cut the strap.

You should know that all of our products come with an unlimited Lifetime Warranty. So if you're having trouble with one of our Ratchet Straps please do not hesitate to reach out to our support team found here. They will ensure you get a new Ratchet Strap sent out to replace the one that caused this frustration.