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Winches – how to choose and use

Choosing a winch

If you’re planning to go off-roading regularly, adding a winch is something that you should definitely consider. Picking the right one can be a daunting task as there are so many options out there to choose from. In today’s segment, we will discuss the factors that you should consider to pick the right winch.

This article is a guest post from the folks at – feel free to take a look at their off road winch reviews.

Winch sizes

The first and foremost factor to consider is the winch capacity. When it comes to a winch, higher winch capacity is always better! The heavier the vehicle, the more powerful winch you’ll need. Your winch should be able to pull at least 1.5 times the weight of your vehicle.
You can calculate it by taking the gross vehicle weight and multiply it by 1.5. This is the minimum rating, but certain factors can make your winch capacity be exceeded.

GVWR = Base Weight + Passengers / Cargo

Best winch Size >= GVWR x 1.5

So, if your vehicle weighs 1.8 metric tons (4000 lbs) then choose a winch having at least 2.7 metric tons (6000 lbs) capacity.

The 1.5X rule is the industry standard. But for a better safety, you should pick one that has the capacity more than that.

Winch types

The main difference between a hydraulic and an electric winch is the power source. Hydraulic winches are powered by the vehicle power steering pump. Electric winches are linked to the vehicle battery and electrical system.

The electric winch is the most common and widely used winch type. They’re quite durable and often less expensive than the hydraulic winch – but if you use them for a longer time, they can overheat. So, if you have to use the winch all day long, then you may face the problem with your vehicle’s electrical system. In this case choose a hydraulic one, otherwise, electric winches are a better option.

If you plan to use a winch frequently, then the hydraulic winches are the best choice. They don’t have problems of overheating, but they have some downsides too. This type of winch isn’t available everywhere – only a few manufacturers produce hydraulic winches. While using this winch, the engine must be running because they’re operated with the power steering pump.

Rope options

There are lots of debate when it comes to choosing between synthetic rope or steel cable.

Steel Rope: This type of rope is affordable, durable and very easy to maintain. But one downside is it might be too heavy for your rig’s front. They’re ideal to use in highly abrasive terrains. If you often drive through sand, mud and rocks, then steel rope is the good choice for you. While handling the rope, you should wear heavy gloves to protect your hands. Because steel cable can accidentally cut your hand.

Synthetic Rope: This is safer, flexible, lighter and easier to handle than the steel cable. You don’t need a glove to handle them. They’re great for trail and recovery winches. But their negative side is that they’re very susceptible to Chemicals, UV exposure, heat and abrasion. Synthetic rope also requires proper care and maintenance. You have to wash them from time to time after using it in sand or muddy conditions.

Motor options

Electric winches come with two types of DC motors. They are the permanent magnet (PM) and series wound (SW). Cheaper winches generally come with permanent magnet motors. If you’re an occasional wincher, then the PM motors are a good option for you. But if you want the winch for heavy duty or cold weather use, then the series wound motor is the best.

Mount options

This is one of the most important considerations. There are three popular options that you can mount your winch.

  • Bumper mount: This is the simplest option mounting option. They offer the most versatility. They’re super easy to install.
  • Multi-mount: This is a little more complex than the first one. A Multi-Mounted winch is not very durable because of the mounting point. The multi-mounted winch is perfect for you if you’re one of them who want the security a winch provides without mounting it to your vehicle permanently.
  • Winch bumper: This mounting options becoming popular day by day as they look like really part of your vehicle. They also provide protection to your vehicles front side.

How to use a winch

Part 1: Rigging the winch

  1. Put on your gloves.
  2. Plug the remote control into the winch.
  3. Find an anchor point, you can use a boulder, tree trunk or other vehicle.
  4. Now use the disengage lever to release the winch cable.
  5. Pull the winch cable all the way to the anchor. But if it’s unable to reach the anchor, then look for another one.
  6. Wrap a tree strop around the anchor at the lower part.
  7. Hook a D ring shackle through both of the loops on the tree trunk protector.
  8. The hook which is at the end of the winch cable is called the winch hook. Hook it to the D ring shackle with the tip facing up.
  9. Turn the disengage lever back to engage.
  10. Slowly pull the winch cable taut by using the remote.

Part 2: Pulling Your Vehicle Out

  1. Tell everyone to go back as far as possible to avoid any accidents.
  2. Seat in the driver seat of your vehicle.
  3. Turn on the remote control and winch the vehicle slowly.
  4. Continue winching until the vehicle is on stable ground.
  5. Stop winching when your vehicle reaches the stable ground.

Part 3: Unrigging the Winch

  1. Unhook the winch cable from the D ring shackle
  2. Slowly rewind the winch cable by using the remote.
  3. Unplug the remote from the winch and store it in your vehicle
  4. Retrieve the tree trunk protector and D ring shackle and store them in your vehicle.

Congratulations! Now that you know all about winches, can rescue yourself on off road, you’re ready to continue your journey.

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One thought on “Winches – how to choose and use

  • Every car and truck on the road should have a winch and a dashcam. Get stuck in the snow or mud you got a winch, get into an accident you got a camera.

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