Tie-down straps and car paint damage

-- Last Updated: May-16-09 12:26 PM EST --

The bow and stern straps on my carrier are starting to chafe the paint on my hood and trunk lid. I was thinking of running the straps through some pieces of pool noodle where they contact the paint. Does anybody have any better ways to protect paint surfaces? Thanks, B

dregsfan–Pnet the all-knowing has answe

Hood loops work great
The best way I’ve seen to avoid this is by using hood loops instead of going all the way to the front bumper or tow hook. These also work well for the sporty cars that do not have a good way to tie the bow down.

The hood loops are basically a foot or so of a tie down strap with a hole running through the loose ends with the strap folded in half. Then, use an existing frame bolt under the hood to run through these holes. The loop should then hang out from under the closed hood on either or both sides (not in front). When not using them, you can tuck the loops under the hood. You can google “hood loop kayak” or similar and see what they look like.

tiedown straps
I stopped using straps and went back to ropes, but when I was using them, I found it was important to (a) make sure that the straps were not twisted, and (b) that they were tight.

Loose or twisted straps tend to vibrate in the wind, and this accelerates the chaffing of the soft plastic covering the bumpers on most cars today.

I abandoned the straps because I decided that the hooks at the ends were not a reliable connection to either the car or the kayak in the event of a catastrophic rack failure. The ropes are secured tied and should not come free if there is a sudden slack in them, unlike the strap hooks.

The ropes also do less damage to the bumper coverings, in my opinion.



Simple solution
don’t use them !



Keep 'em clean.
It’s the grit that collects in the weave of the straps that does the damage more than the fibers themselves. There will always be some abrasion to the car’s finish at contact areas but, short of putting a physical barrier between, a good wash in a bucket of water with a dash of surfactant followed by a thorough rinse, from time to time, will go a long way to help minimize this.

It seems that anytime I’ve tried to introduce a resilient foam layer anywhere in the mix, it serves only to prevent sufficient tension on lines and allows everything to move around that much more.

Hood Loops

– Last Updated: May-16-09 12:30 PM EST –

I've used pool noodle pieces, pipe insulation, crop irrigation hose, wool golf bag padded strap, you name it and they will all still chafe the paint slightly. Every vehicle I "Traded in" over the years had chafe marks on the hood. Finally, a few years ago, I saw the suggestions on the hood loops and bought a grommet kit from Wallyworld and made them with some old nylon straps. I WISH I HAD DONE THIS YEARS AGO. No strap rub, very secure and easy to secure, and I can get more "Twist" in the the tie down straps to keep them from "Whining" at high speeds. If you look closely, you'll see them in the front of these two pics. WW

The dirt and grit that occur where the tie downs touch paint is most likely your worst enemy. The larger the area to hold dirt, the greater the abrasion. I went to the “Top Ties” which really minimize any scuffing provided you tuck them inside when not in use. I made a second set for use on canoe hauler #2. Used 1" webbing and melted a hole through the folded strap with a hot nail. I don’t think a grommet is really necessary IMO.


Pipe Insulation
You can get two pieces of foam pipe insulation from a home center for about $2.00. Just cut two small sections about 6 inches long. Place these under/around the tie-down straps at the point of contact. This works for me. It is easy and inexpensive. Good luck.

nathan–the link above is for hood loops

I wasn’t fast enough cd1
I was typing and answering phone as you were posting. 3 minutes too slow.

Pipe insulation…
Pipe insulation has worked for me on the last 3 pickup trucks I’ve had; no paint damage whatsoever. The pipe insulation was free; I found a brand new, 5 foot piece of it alongside the road.

I put a piece of it on each tie down(bow painters)I use. The painters, when snugged down, hold the pipe insulation in place, where the painter might rub against the paint. Don’t need protection for the stern tie downs; they don’t touch any painted area.


2nd vote for hood loops
They work great. Forget trying to pad your strap or rope & get it off hood completely

Straps: for people who can’t tie knots

– Last Updated: May-17-09 4:58 PM EST –

You could learn to tie knots, and then use rope. Straps are hard, rough, and abrasive. There are plenty of choices of rope which are not. I've been using rope for my bow tie-downs on the same vehicle since 1995 (though I will admit that this was not my only boat-hauling vehicle prior to 1998), and there still aren't any marks on the hood. Use a fairly soft rope and don't ever lay it in the dirt, and your troubles will be over.

Have To Disagree Eric

– Last Updated: May-17-09 6:19 PM EST –

I beg to differ that rope is better than straps. I admit I'm not the best at knots, but I've had less slippage with straps than knots; I would think because there is more surface area contacting the boat. Maybe it's just me, but I'll keep my straps, thank you. WW

I agree
a good comparison is straps are to rope like a calculator is to a slide rule.



I don’t think we are talking about …

– Last Updated: May-17-09 7:11 PM EST –

... the same thing here.

The OP asked about abrasion of the hood of his car from the bow tie-downs. For bow lines going from the tip of the boat, down over the hood, to some attachment point, the amount of "grip" that the material has would not be an issue since these tie-downs do not come in contact with the hull. All you need here is something that provides tension, and the right kind of rope won't scuff the paint on your car.

Regarding the other tie-downs, where "friction" might be an issue, you can use a trucker's hitch to make a rope so tight that it damages the hull, just as you can do with certain kinds of straps, however, relying on "friction" means that you are not making efficient use of your tie-down. For some folks it's the "easy" way, but in no way does that mean there are not "better" ways. When it comes to stopping side-to-side motion of the boat, rather than relying on extremely tight tie-downs, I use additional tie-downs which do nothing but prevent side-to-side motion. One loop keeps the boat from moving left, and the other loop keeps it from moving right (this goes along with the old adage, "you can't push anything with a rope", because one step away from trying to push with a rope is trying to prevent motion that is at a right-angle to the tension in the rope or strap - it just works poorly relative to the amount of tension you must apply. It's best to align the tension with the motion you are resisting, because then you can get good results without extreme tension). Gunwale blocks do the same thing.

Straps are to a calculator as ropes …

– Last Updated: May-17-09 7:06 PM EST –

are to a slide rule ONLY if you don't know how to use a sliderule. Orienting your tie-downs the proper way (along with the use of proper connections (knots)) will outperform any method that simply relies on outright clamping power, and it will do so WITHOUT subjecting your boat to forces any greater than the forces that try to make it shift position in the rack (wind, momentum when hitting the brakes, etc.). It's really not a big deal, both methods work, but one method works much more efficiently than the other (requiring MUCH less tension to get the job done). However, the more-efficient method requires that you actually understand what you are doing (which is a REALLY good reason for using the calculator-sliderule comparison).

By the way - I don't know how to use a slide rule. If I were one year older, I would have been forced to learn, but calculators came along in the nick of time.

go with the hood loops and add the
rear loops that close in the back hatch. No more crawling on the ground. We use ropes that are cut to the right length for each canoe and a quick truckers hitch to each loop makes the job quick and secure.

try those wool slip-on seat belt shoulder strap pads and install them on your lines to mimimize the damage and keep the pads washed of dirt. almost anything rubbing against a painted surface will eventually damage the surface. biggest prob is the road grit getting in between the lashing and the paint and acting like a rough rubbing compound against the paint.