Rubber Wheel Chocks vs. Urethane Wheel Chocks

Wheel chocks are a lightweight, durable, and fairly inexpensive way to avoid silly accidents from causing major damage to your vehicles.

What they are, how they’re different, and where to buy the best ones.

Rubber and urethane wheel chocks are both a lightweight, durable, and fairly inexpensive way to avoid silly accidents from causing major damage to your vehicles – whether it’s trucks, trailers, recreational vehicles, or any other vehicle that could potentially roll away on you.

using and choosing wheel chocks

In short, the main purpose of wheel chocks is to keep vehicles from rolling away.

We have many different wheel chock styles to choose from in order to match your needs and your vehicle’s needs. Determining whether you need rubber or urethane wheel chocks mainly depends on the environment that the chocks will be used in.

Styles of Rubber Wheel Chocks

Rubber wheel chocks are commonly used in the commercial transportation industry and while wheel chocks are not technically required for commercial motor vehicles, they’re always good to have on hand when loading, unloading, or when you’re parked on any type of incline or decline.

Most people only use rubber wheel chocks in enclosed areas like warehouses or garages since they’re not very resistant to outdoor elements.

Wedge-Style Wide Rubber Wheel Chocks

Heavy-duty rubber and a grooved design come together to create a secure grip against tires. Metal handles make these chocks easy to carry or secure when not in use.

Wedge-Style Solid Rubber Wheel Chocks

A stronger, more solid rubber and full grip bottom provide a safe and secure hold on your vehicle’s tires. Built-in slots on the back make them easy to carry or secure with a chain or strap.

Double-Sided Rubber Wheel Chocks

double-sided-pyramid-style-wheel-chocks
Double-Sided Rubber Wheel Chocks

These popular pyramid-style wheel chocks come in two sizes to match your tire size: 9-1/4″ x 5-1/2″ x 7-1/4″ and a slightly larger 10″ x 6″ x8″. This style can be used on either side and come with a built-in eye bolt for secure storage.

Styles of Urethane Wheel Chocks

If you’re going to be using your chocks mainly outdoors, urethane wheel chocks are able to better resist weather and abrasions. Urethane wheel chocks are also more resistant to oils, fuels, and lubricants.

Our urethane wheel chocks are orange due to customer demand. The bright color makes it harder to misplace or forget them. To learn more about the benefits of the orange color see our post: Why Should I Buy Bright Wheel Chocks?

Orange Wedge-Style Wheel Chocks

These long and bright wheel chocks have a curved surface that contours to fit tires and features a raised diamond plate pattern. Instead of a eye bolt, it has a mold-in hole for chain or strap securement.

Orange Double-Sided Wheel Chocks

Similar to the rubber double-sided chocks, these urethane chocks are more lightweight and resistant to fuels and solvents. They provide excellent stability to vehicles and can be used on either side.

Choosing the Right Wheel Chocks

Both double-sided and wedge-style wheel chocks serve the same purpose and choosing which one to use is mostly a personal choice. Double-sided chocks are the most versatile as they can be used on either side, while wedge wheel chocks are able to cradle tires more.

The most important aspect in choosing the right wheel chocks is getting a size that’s right for your tires.

For standard truck and trailer size wheels, you should choose a wheel chock with a height that’s about 1/4 the height of the tire. For example, a 22.5″ tire requires a wheel chock that’s about 6″ high. Along with the tire height, you also need to choose a chock that is wider than your tire’s diameter to ensure a secure hold.

Using Wheel Chocks on Motorcycles

Although some people use the above styles of wheel chocks as a makeshift wheel chock when hauling motorcycles on a truck bed or trailer, they’re really not designed for motorcycles.

Instead, get a wheel chock that’s specifically designed for motorcycles. This TrakStar motorcycle chock comes with durable aluminum L-track for simple installation and a strong hold time after time.

To see a video on how to properly install this popular motorcycle wheel chock, see our post on how to get your trailer motorcycle ready.

How to Pull a Car Out of Snow Using a Recovery Strap

Recovery straps can be used all year long, but they’re especially handy in the winter months when roadsides become flooded with spun-out vehicles.

Recovery straps can be used all year long, but they’re especially handy in the winter months when roadsides become flooded with spun-out vehicles.

how to pull a car out of snow
source

The best way to get a car out of snow quickly (without the cost of a professional tow truck) is by rigging a recovery strap to a tow hook or recovery point on the vehicle and slowly dragging it out. Between the type of vehicle, weather conditions, and distance from the roadway, there are many variables that make each vehicle recovery situation different.

Use the steps below as a general guideline for how to pull a car out of the snow, but know your limits and never push the capabilities of your vehicle or yourself.

 

1. Make yourself visible to others

If you’re recovering a vehicle that’s near a roadway, take precaution seriously. Having your hazards on is a good start, but you should also have some type of hi-vis clothing to protect yourself. Consider getting reflective safety triangles to help warn drivers of your presence as they’re approaching the recovery scene.

emergency warning triangles

 

2. Make the recovery as easy as possible

If the car that’s stuck in the snow is really buried in, you might want to spend some time shoveling snow away from the tires and from underneath the car. Putting sand or kitty litter under the tires will also help ease the strain on the recovery strap and make the pull a whole lot easier. If you have them, applying tire chains will add even more traction.

2. Secure the strap to the recovery vehicle

First, make sure the recovery strap you’re using is rated high enough. A good rule of thumb is for the vehicle weight to be half the break strength of the recovery strap.

Next, attach the recovery strap to the rear of the towing vehicle, somewhere with plenty of structural support like a trailer hitch with steel loops for mounting a hook with a safety clip or a shackle. Anchor shackles are one of the best and safest ways to secure a recovery strap. Refer to your vehicle’s owners manual for guidance on safe recovery strap rigging.

Never attach the strap to a trailer hitch ball. This can cause bending and breaking that could result in serious injury.

3. Secure the strap to the stuck vehicle

This is where it can get tricky. If you’re lucky enough to be pulling a vehicle with clearly visible tow hooks, secure the recovery strap to those. Many smaller vehicles and newer model cars don’t have the best tow hooks, or they are often hidden.

Before resorting to hooking onto the frame, check the front bumper for a small square section of the plastic that’s removable. Many newer vehicles have removable tow hooks that are stored with the car jack.

hidden tow hook location on cars

Never attach a recovery strap to the bumper, axle, suspension, or steering rods.

If possible, lay a tarp or some jackets on top of the recovery strap to slow the recoil of the strap if it were to break.

4. Reduce slack then pull slowly

Once the recovery strap is safely secured, the recovery vehicle should slowly pull forward to reduce strap slack and prevent snapping. Then, with drivers in both vehicles and no people near the strap, the recovery vehicle can start accelerating slowly and gradually. The vehicle being recovered should be in gear and once they’re moving the driver should apply some gas and steer the vehicle out.

5. Inspect equipment and get home safe

Once the car is pulled out of the snow and back on drivable land, inspect your recovery strap and all hardware before heading home. Clean the strap when you get home and store it in a dry and cool place.

Why you need to use recovery straps

Make sure to use recovery straps for stuck vehicles and not tow straps. Recovery straps are designed to have more stretch than tow straps and this helps prevent the strap from snapping when the vehicle is being tugged on. Recovery straps also provide a more controlled pull compared the tow straps. Without getting too scientific, the stored kinetic energy from the strap stretches then recoils back to its natural length to provide control and prevent the strap from snapping.

Learn more about the differences between recovery straps and tow straps.

 

Best Recovery Straps

2 inch recovery strap yellow
2″ x 20′ Recovery Strap
8 inch heavy duty recovery strap with cordura
8″ x 30′ Heavy Duty Recovery Strap
3 inch recovery strap 2-ply
3″ x 20′ Recovery Strap 2-Ply

 

 

Headache Racks: 5 Reasons why your Semi Truck should have one

Headache racks for semi trucks are a smart investment for any serious truck driver looking to maximize their truck’s protection, their own personal protection, or to increase storage and truck accessory options.

 

What is a Headache Rack?

A headache rack is commonly fabricated using aluminum, steel, or stainless steel. They are installed right behind your truck’s cab mainly to protect you and your truck from loose objects that may fly through the back glass. However, this is just one benefit to having a headache rack.

 

heavy duty headache racks for semi
This 70″ wide aluminum headache rack features an E-Z view window for rear window visibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is it Called a Headache Rack?

It’s unclear whether the name headache rack originated from the fact that they prevent cargo from flying through and hitting you in the head, or because they help prevent a headache you would experience if your truck is damaged. Another theory is that the rack itself can cause a headache if you are not careful when climbing around the back of your cab.

 

5 Benefits of a Headache Rack

Despite the potential for a self-inflicted head bump, there are 5 huge benefits to installing a truck headache rack.

 

1. Safety

Heavy-duty headache racks are the best way to prevent tools, cargo, or road debris from flying through your rear window and causing damage to your truck or to yourself. Another cool benefit is the fact that headache racks help reflect sunlight, so less heat gets into your cab.

 

2. Hauling Tools

installing aluminum headache rack with lights
This 80″ wide heavy-duty headache rack features two locking chain racks and a full tray.

Many semi truck headache racks come equipped with tool racks or trays that allow quick but secure access to your roadside tools and cargo securement supplies. This Merritt® headache rack comes with two locking chain racks and a full tray to keep transport chains secured.

 

3. Mounting Lights

Installing a headache rack on your truck also provides an additional mounting surface for lighting and other accessories. Once the rack is in place, it’s easy to mount LED beacon lights, light bars, warning lights, or even radio antennas.

 

4. Mounting a Toolbox

Even though many semi truck headache racks have storage options built-in, there’s no such thing as too much tool storage. And just like with lighting, a headache rack also provides a sturdy mountable surface for an additional toolbox. Since many semi truck toolboxes have locks, they are a great accessory to have right behind your cab.

 

5. Cool Looking

Last but not least, let’s talk about how cool these headache racks look. A new headache rack adds a fresh look to any truck and can even be powder-coated to color match your rig (if you’re not into the base metallic silver look). They add a more rugged look to your rig, while also serving multiple highly useful purposes.

understand the benefits of an aluminum headache rack
Headache racks add a rugged look to your rig and also serve multiple useful purposes.

 

Types of Headache Racks

Headache racks are commonly made of aluminum, steel, or stainless steel (or a composite).

Aluminum headache racks are popular due to their low weight, corrosion resistance, and affordability.

Obviously, stainless will beat aluminum in overall corrosion resistance (ideal for those salty winter roads), but the low weight of aluminum will help keep your rig’s total weight much lower.

 

15 Winter Driving Kit Essentials

Winter driving emergency kit: 15 must havesWinter driving has been upon a few areas of the country already this year, but it’s never too late to stock your vehicle with essentials that could be potential lifesavers should you become stuck, stranded, or lost in snowy, sub-zero conditions.

A quick, informal survey of our customers turned up these 15 must-haves for a winter safety kit:

1. Blanket or sleeping bag. This is a no-brainer. A heavy blanket or two will do the job, but many of our truck-driving customers recommend a nice camping-quality sleeping bag for superior warmth. Several of our customers keep a few of our Supreme moving blankets in their trucks since they’re heavy-duty yet washable.

2. Water and food. Another no-brainer. But what are the best food items to keep in your vehicle? Choose nutritionally dense food that won’t go bad quickly. Jerky, granola bars, and crackers with peanut butter are all good choices. Stash a gallon of water in your vehicle as well.

3. Extra clothing. A pair of quilted coveralls or an insulated jacket/snowpants combination was also suggested by our truck-driving survey respondents. Even if you’re not an over-the-road trucker, extra socks, gloves, and hats are always smart to have on hand for cold weather travel.

4. Hand warmers. Battery-operated or air-activated hand warmers can produce heat for up to 24 hours, and are an excellent addition for any emergency kit. These are especially useful if you need to make car repairs in frigid temps.

 5. First aid kit. An inclusive kit is indispensable if you become stranded and basic first aid is needed. We sell a 97-piece first aid kit, or you can make your own. The Red Cross recommends that first aid kits contain gauze, bandages, antibiotic ointments, and antiseptic wipes. Stocking up on medical supplies is also a good reminder that the kit should include personal medications and the phone numbers of your emergency contacts.

 6. Flashlight with extra batteries. Look for a large, bright flashlight to keep in your vehicle, and most importantly-  make sure it works and you have extra batteries! Lots of flashlights on the market today are multi-functioning, with a radio, cell phone charger, etc. built-in, so it might be worth spending a few more dollars and getting more bang for your buck.

 7. Glow sticks. Glow sticks, or light sticks, can be purchased at department stores, drug stores, and dollar stores. Wearing a glow stick will alert your presence to other motorists or safety personnel.

 8. Reflector triangles. Safety/emergency triangles can be placed in front of and behind your car to alert other drivers. These triangles signal a roadside emergency, and can help keep you and your vehicle safe until you can get back on the road.

 9. Jumper cables.  Jumper cables are worth every penny, so invest in a good set. What to look for: heavy-duty steel clamps and an extra-long cable length.

10. Portable power unitPortable power units have been around a few years now and continue to improve in quality and durability. The best part about investing in a unit is that it can be used at home in the event of a power outage, or while camping, tailgating, etc.

 11. Tools. Our truck-driving and moving industry customers say they always have a basic tool kit in their emergency winter driving kit. If you’re putting a traveling tool box together, look for tools that are brightly colored to make them easy to find in low visibility conditions. Multi-use tools like a Gerber® tool is also an excellent addition to any emergency kit. Other smart additions: pliers, duct tape, screwdriver, and hammer.

 12. Tow strap / recovery strap. While a tow strap and a recovery strap are known as two separate types of equipment, ours can be used for both towing and recovery. Learn more here: Recovery Straps / Tow Straps.

13. Shovel and ice pick. A long-handled ice scraper, an ice pick and snow shovel are also requirements for a kit. While it may be tempting to go for the small folding shovels to save space, if you can afford the room, stock a full-size shovel in your vehicle. The compact variety of snow-moving gear is generally not as durable as standard-sized equipment. Another tool in fighting ice is a spray de-icer, which is usually available at auto-parts stores.

 14. Sand or kitty litter.  This may sound a little old-fashioned since it was made popular well-before front wheel/all-wheel drive cars became so common, but sprinkling a layer of sand or cat litter can provide some traction if you’re stuck. Common sandbox sand works well and is usually available at any home improvement store. If you choose to keep kitty litter in your vehicle, pick up the non-clumping kind.

15. Battery-powered radio and paper maps. If you’re planning to drive a long distance through more rural areas, it’s not a bad idea to go old school and keep a current atlas and a battery-powered radio in your travel gear kit. Cell phone chargers can get lost, GPS units are not always guaranteed a signal, etc. It’s better to be safe than sorry out on the roads in the winter!

 

 

8 Legends In Our Placard Set: What Do They Mean?

Image of truck placard set from US Cargo ControlOur placard set is one of our best-selling items in our vehicle and driver supplies, due in part to its versatility- eight different legends are available with the quick switch of the plates. The hazardous materials placard’s legends cover a wide variety of labels for whatever hazardous materials you find yourself hauling.  These meet the all-important requirements from 49 CFR Part 172.519 of all hazmat codes.  So one question really makes sense: what are the eight legends in the placard set and what does it take to use each?

Dangerous

The “Dangerous” placard needs to be used if the shipment in question has non-bulk packages of two or more of these other placards, meaning multiple signs are required.  This could be if a chemical was flammable and explosive, for example, or chemical and combustible, etc.

Corrosive (Class 8)

To be considered corrosive, the material can be solid or liquid, but its main trait is that if a person comes into contact with it, the “full destruction” of human skin will occur within a certain amount of time after contact.  Also any liquid that can corrode steel or aluminum is also considered corrosive in nature.

Flammable Liquid (Class 3)

A liquid is considered Class 3 flammable when it has a flash point of not more than 60.5°C (141°F), or also for any liquid that has a flash point above 37.8°C (100°F) that is intentionally heated, and is transported at or above flash point in bulk packaging.

Flammable Gas (Class 2)Image of truck placard from US Cargo Control

The Class 2 flammable gas legend is for any gas that is compressed and stored for transportation, and is also flammable when put into contact with an open flame.

Non-Flammable Gas (Class 2)

To use the non-flammable gas legend you’re looking at any gas that is compressed for transportation but is not naturally flammable, according to the HAZMAT Class 2 gas requirements in the United States.

Inhalation Hazard (Class 6)

This designation is for any poisonous material other than a gas that is known to be toxic and possibly fatal to humans.  Toxic gas gets a designation of poisonous gas, so is separate from this one.

Oxidizer (Class 5.1)

You can use the oxidizer legend when hauling any chemical that readily yields oxygen in reactions, which is a fancy way of saying it can cause combustion or enhance any combustion taking place.

Image of semi truck placard from US Cargo ControlPoison (Class 6)

Any material being hauled that is known to be toxic to people and presents a health hazard during transportation (other than gas) is classified as a poison.

You can find more information online at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) page: Hazmat regulations.