Loading and Unloading ATV’s from a trailer seems simple enough and YES your company should have proper written instructions and procedures in place. With that said, I’ve heard countless horror stories of people hurting themselves or trashing their equipment by improperly or unsafely carrying out this task. With some basic knowledge and a little bit of patience, loading and unloading should be quick and easy.
All of the steps below should be done with the assumption that the trailer is safely hitched to your tow vehicle and the emergency brake on the tow vehicle is engaged.
1) Put on your helmet. If you do mess something up, at least your head is protected.
2) Align the ramps so the tires are as close center as possible. This prevents the ramps from tipping.
3) Start the ATV and put it into the lowest forward gear. This allows the ATV to move with the least amount of throttle input.
4) Engage four-wheel drive if the ATV is equipped. Four wheels gripping the ramps help prevent wheel spin.
5) Smoothly apply throttle until the ATV begins to climb the ramps, giving it just enough throttle to maintain forward momentum. Be careful to avoid rapid throttle input that could cause the wheels to spin.
6) When cresting the ramps and reaching the deck, gently apply the brakes to bring the ATV to a complete stop.
7) Place the gear selector into park, if applicable. If no parking gear is present, engage the parking brake.
8) Shut down the engine, remove the key from the ignition and place it in a safe spot. I generally choose the center console of my truck.
9) Tie down the ATV with a set of quality tie downs sturdy enough to secure an ATV. It is imperative that the ATV is secured well enough to prevent moving or sliding on the trailer.
10) Place the ramps back into their storage location. You’ll need them to unload when you reach your destination.
1) Grab your helmet and put it on immediately. You’ll be climbing all over the trailer so this is an easy, but unacceptable step to miss.
2) Undo the tie downs and place them in a safe spot. You’ll need them again later.
3) Align the ramps with the front wheels of the ATV. If they’re not centered, the ramps could tip.
4) Start the ATV, put it into the lowest forward gear and gently apply enough throttle to roll onto the ramps. Momentum should carry the ATV down the ramps with very little throttle input.
5) Stop the ATV and either put it into park or engage the parking brake, then shut off the engine.
6) Place the ramps back in their storage location. This will help prevent the ramps from being damaged or stolen.
On to a truck is equally the same SORT OF!
Step 1: Get Proper Ramps
There are tons of different kinds of ramps out there, just make sure you use something that is built by a reputable company and is rated to take the amount of weight you’re applying. Once you line up the ATV with the truck, place those ramps in the center of the wheels.
Step 2: Secure the Ramps to Your Truck
It’s here that you’ll want to secure your ramps to the truck to prevent them from falling out from under you. Ratchet straps work best for this, though any type of tie-down strap will do. It is best to attach your straps onto your ramps so that they do not get in the way during the loading process. So hook one end of the strap onto the ramps on the other end onto the safety chain tie-down ring beside the hitch receiver.
This will keep the strap out of the way and it was also put downward pressure on the ramps, holding them firmly onto the tailgate and truck.
Step 3: Wear an Approved Helmet
Always remember, safety first.
Step 4: Shift Into 4LO
Putting your ATV into 4LO will help you get up the ramps nice and slow with no drama or hassle.
Step 5: Slowly But Firmly Head Up the Ramps
Give the ATV some gas and get up those ramps. You don’t need to be a speed demon, but you also must stay on the gas and not back off in the middle of the loading. Be firm with the throttle.
Step 6: Creep Forward
Once your rear wheels are fully onto the tailgate, slowly creep forward until you are nearly touching the front of the bed. Now, shut off your ATV and make sure you put it in park if you have it, and/or apply the parking brake. Make sure you pull the key out of your machine.
Step 7: Remove Ramps and Close Tailgate If Possible
You’ll want to close the tailgate if it’s possible. Even if it does close, you still need to properly tie-down your ATV.
Step 8: Secure Your ATV
To properly tie down your ATV, you want to attach your straps to points that will compress the suspension. On an ATV, the best place is usually onto the cargo racks. If you use strong ratchet straps, they will compress the suspension of the ATV for you as you crank them down. If you don’t own ratchet straps, pull down on the end of the ATV you’re tying down to compress the suspension, then tighten your straps. If you have a friend, get them to sit on the very front or back edge of the machine while your secure the straps.
With the suspension compressed, it will put constant pressure on the strap, helping to control side-to-side swaying motion.
SPECIAL IMPORTANT NOTE PLEASE READ AND PAY ATTENTION
If you’re lucky enough to be able to ride your quad out of your garage and onto a trail…well, then we’re jealous. The rest of us have to load up our quads either in the back of pickup trucks or on a trailer and drive them to the nearest trail system or track. Getting your quad secured for the trip with tie-downs is very important, very easy, and something that some people don’t know how to do correctly.
You want to place the tie-downs in a way that collapses the suspension of your ATV. For example, place tie-downs on the rear grab bar and on the front handlebars. When you tighten the straps, they should collapse the suspension. Also, make sure there is tension both forward and backward on the quad so it doesn’t roll off the flatbed. Two tie-downs from each end works well. And make sure that you have high-quality tie-downs. The cheaply made, thin tie-downs easily snap and break…trust us. Get the nice tie-downs to keep your quad safe on the journey!