Are you ready to load up those ATVs or UTVs and hit some trails? Before you get started there are some important loading procedures to consider. How do you plan to haul the ATV/UTV? How should you load an ATV/UTV? What about tie downs? What things should you be aware of when hauling a trailer? If you just realized you are not sure about the answer to these questions, you’re not alone. That’s why we have put together a few need-to-know ATV/UTV loading tips.
Hauling an ATV/UTV in the Bed of a Pickup Truck
Let’s start with how you are planning to haul your ATV/UTV. Maybe you have just one ATV/UTV you want to haul in a truck bed. Sounds simple enough, right? There are still several steps you will need to take so you do not damage either vehicle or injure yourself or others:
Before you get started, measure the inside width and length of the truck bed to see if the ATV/UTV will fit in the bed of the truck. Next, measure the width of the ATV/UTV from the outside of one wheel to the outside of the other. Then measure the length. Once you know the ATV/UTV will successfully fit in the back of the truck, you can get started on loading it up using a ramp.
So how are you going to get that heavy ATV/UTV into the back of your truck? Unless you are The Incredible Hulk, lifting it by hand just isn’t going to work. You will need to use a ramp (or a 2-track ramp) to slowly drive the vehicle into the bed of the truck. It is not safe to use wooden boards or ladders or any other makeshift items in your garage as ramps. You should only use a ramp specifically designed for loading ATVs.
Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for properly attaching the ramps to your pickup truck.
Make sure you are loading on a flat surface, as an incline will make loading more difficult.
Always engage the parking brake on the vehicle before you attach the ramps to make sure the tow vehicle does not move when you’re tying to the ATV.
Put the ramp in place and take it a step further by securing the ramp with a tie down from the back side of the ramp to the truck frame.
Don't forget to put the ramp in the back of your truck when you are done because you will need it for unloading when you get to your destination. To make it easier to haul the ramp, you can purchase a ramp that folds up for convenient storage. When purchasing a ramp, it's very important that you select a ramp with the ability to hold the weight of your ATV/UTV.
Slow and Steady Roll
Let’s talk a little about the slow roll when driving the AVT/UTV up the ramp into the truck bed. It’s important that you drive it slowly and steadily. Your ATV’s owner’s manual will tell you what gear to select for loading the vehicle onto a trailer. It's very important to maintain a slow but steady speed while driving up the ramp as slowing down midway could result in the vehicle going backwards and flipping over. You also shouldn't accelerate midway up the ramp, which could result in the vehicle running into the back of the truck cab. Once in place, you need to place the ATV/UTV in neutral gear and put the parking brake on before you tie it down.
Tie It Down
Whether you haul your ATV/UTV on the back of a truck or on a trailer, you need to tie it down properly. Before you use your tie down straps, look them over for any tears or damage. Using damaged tie downs could weaken their ability to hold your ATV/UTV securely.
You will need four tie downs, one for each wheel.
Attach each tie down to the ATV/UTV frame by each wheel and then attach the other end of the tie down strap to the tie down anchor points on the edge of the truck bed. It is important that the anchors in your pickup truck and the tie down straps each have the capacity to hold more than the weight of your ATV/UTV. Otherwise, they could break. Check the manufacturer’s specifications to find out the weight capacity.
Make sure the tie downs are not against sharp edges because the straps can start to fray and tear in half quickly if pulled against a sharp edge.
Tighten the tie down straps as tightly as possible. Ratchet straps are great for getting tie downs tight and secure.
Secure any loose ends so that the tie downs don’t loosen themselves by flapping in the wind while you’re driving.
Hauling an ATV/UTV on a Trailer
If you have a trailer to haul ATVs or UTVs, read the manufacturer’s instructions and owner’s manual before attaching the trailer to the towing vehicle and loading the ATV/UTV onto it. The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers has several videos demonstrating how to properly hitch a trailer to a tow vehicle. Once the ATV/UTVs are loaded, here are a few trailer safety tips we want to mention:
Make sure the vehicle you’re pulling the trailer with has the engine power to pull the weight capacity of the trailer and ATV/UTVs being hauled.
Make sure you have the correct trailer hitch ball size to prevent the possibility of the trailer disconnecting from the towing vehicle.
Attach the towing chain on the trailer to the towing vehicle in case the trailer was to disconnect from the vehicle.
The transportation trailer should have working signal and brake lights.
Trailer brakes on the hauling trailer can help the trailer stop when you stop your vehicle and prevent a fully loaded trailer from pushing your vehicle farther forward when you are trying to stop the vehicle.
Once you’re loaded and ready to go, your adventure awaits you. We hope having a safe start to your trip with proper loading and hauling procedures will set the pace for your riding adventures, too. While you are out on the trail, keep in mind safe riding procedures. HomeFirst® offers ATV and UTV insurance policies to cover damage to your ATV/UTV while out on the trail.