How to Secure a Fresh Christmas Tree to the Top of Your Car

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tree on car
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Every Christmas season is a chance to create new memories that your family will never forget. One memory you don't want to make this December is watching your newly bought Christmas tree slide off the top of your car and into traffic. Knowing how to tie a Christmas tree to your car is essential for anyone who buys a real tree each year. Driving a car with a Christmas tree on top is always a little nerve-wracking, but it's easier when you know it is really secure.

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Preparing Your Car

Before you go and pick the perfect tree, make sure you have everything you're going to need for a safe trip home. Bring work gloves to protect your hands. You'll also need a tarp or blanket to put under the tree. Even if the tree is wrapped in netting and you have a roof rack, sticky sap and needles will fall during transport and may damage your car's paint job.

You'll also need nylon ratchet straps, rope or bungee cords for the actual tree tie-down; twine is too flimsy and breakable. If you're a shorter person with a tall car, you might also want to stick a step stool in the car in case you need some extra height.

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The tree tie-down process is a job for at least two people, so bring another able-bodied adult to the tree lot with you if possible. If you're tree shopping alone, that's OK. An employee at the tree lot can probably help you figure out how to tie a Christmas tree to your car and can even help you make sure it's secure. Just make sure there's someone at home to help you take the tree off the roof.

How to Tie a Christmas Tree to Your Car

Once you find the perfect tree and the tree lot has wrapped it in netting, spread the tarp or blanket across the top of the car. Lift one end of the tree while your helper lifts the other and maneuver it on top of the car. The trunk should always be at the front of the car, facing into the wind as you drive home. This positioning helps protect the needles and branches from being blown away.

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Secure the tree to the car with three straps to keep it in place. If the car has a roof rack, knot your rope or tie-down strap around the rack at the front of the car. Throw it over the trunk of the tree just above the bottom branches and wrap the rope or strap all the way around the trunk before tying it to the roof rack on the other side of the car. Looping the strap around the trunk like this keeps the tree from moving side to side as you drive. Repeat this process to secure straps across the middle and top of the tree; only the front strap has to be looped around the trunk of the tree.

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If the car doesn't have a roof rack, open all four doors. Instead of tying the rope or strap to the rack, you'll feed it through the open car and knot it around itself to keep the tree in place. Again, loop the front rope around the trunk above the bottom branches before tying it in place.

Preparing to Drive Home

Because an improper tree tie-down could cause a dangerous accident while you're driving home, you really can't be too careful about driving a car with a Christmas tree on top. Double-check your work before leaving the lot. Give the tree a few hard tugs from several different angles to make sure it doesn't budge. You may even want to ask a tree lot employee to check your ties. These workers help people secure trees to their cars every day and should be able to tell you if you're good to go.

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This may go without saying, but driving a car with a Christmas tree on top is not the time to practice your speed maneuvers. Take the long way home if necessary to avoid highways. The faster you drive, the greater the risk that your tree will come loose.

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