Choosing a Winch
that's right for you
Purchasing a winch can be a daunting task especially if you are
on a budget. Considering the job of a winch, which is to recover your
vehicle when you are sometimes miles for civilization, you must make an
educated decision as to which winch you should buy. The cost of a winch
alone can vary from 300 dollars on up to well over a thousand dollars.
Then you have to factor in the costs of accessories and mounting options that go
along with a winch. You may even have to consider upgrades to your
vehicle such as a better battery and alternator of yours are marginal. Like a fire extinguisher, you hope you never
need it but when you do need to winch out of a sticky situation, you don't want
to doubt the choices you made. So it's wise to educate yourself about the fundamentals of a winch so that you can
buy the one that is best for your purpose. We hope this winch guide may help to
explain the different types of winches and the components of a winch in order to
help you make an educated decision with possibly one of the larger purchases for
How much Winch do you
Recommended winch capacity over
vehicle weight. Typically
manufacturers and resellers will suggest you should calculate
the winch rating by taking the gross vehicle weight and multiplying
it by 1.5 and that would be your minimum winch size.
But this minimum rating is just that, a minimum. Certain
factors can quickly cause your winch capacity to be exceeded so you
need to think about your intended usage. Be aware that certain
terrains and situations can put a much greater demand on a winch
over the typical 1.5 multiplication rule of thumb. For
instance a common cause for winching is mud. Mud however has
an incredible suction force on a stuck vehicle and in many cases
that 1.5 rule of thumb is far inadequate. Steep hills and
frequent winching also put great demand on an electric winch.
Understanding the purpose and safe use of winch accessories such as
a snatch block can be invaluable when you need it most.
How Often and how hard will you probably use the winch?
This is an important factor in deciding what type of
winch motor you will want to buy. Permanent magnet motors vs. series wound
vs. Hydraulic winches. Each has an intended purpose. Light duty
winching and a permanent magnet motor winch will do. More heavy and more
frequent winching and you should consider a Series Wound winch. If you
winch all day long, then consider a Hydraulic winch. We will cover all
three types in the articles within this winch section.
What is your budget?
For many of us, it all comes down to available dollars
and this is what is going to dictate what winch we are going to buy. Of
course we'd love to get the top of the line $1500 monster winch but we have to
be frugal. So for those of use on a budget, we have to decide how much
money we have available. This dollar amount will have to cover the
winch, the accessories and possibly a new front bumper or mounting kit.
You may even have to consider installation if you are not confident about
Do you have any weight or
dimensional limitations or requirements?
The weight of the winch can vary somewhat. If
you're primary consideration is to keep weight down, you may want to pay
attention to those specifications. More important may be the dimensions
of your winch. There are many aftermarket bumpers where the winch mounts
internally. Therefore size may matter. Of the many different types
of winches on the market, the sizes and dimensions can vary considerably.
Solenoid mounting can be a major consideration.
Winches can either have an
Integrated or Remote Solenoid pack. A remote solenoid is
externally mounted off of the winch. An integrated solenoid is
part of the winch either within a "bridge" over the cable
or mounted else where on the winch such as above the
are benefits to both types of solenoid mounting options. With
space restrictions a remote solenoid can reduce the space require to mount the
winch itself while the solenoid can be mounted remotely while an integrated
protection in a compact package.
Warranty - Read the manufacturer's warranty as they vary widely in
warranty coverage time from a few months to years as well as what the warranty
Serviceability - What if it breaks? Can you find a service center that will
fix it for you or can you order parts to fix it yourself? Some of the bargain
winches are not such a bargain when you have to hunt down hard to find parts
especially after the warranty period.
Upgrades - With almost any upgrade to a vehicle there are usually
repercussions to changing something from stock to aftermarket, whether good or
bad. With the addition of a winch, the demand on your electrical system
can exceed the system's capabilities itself. Consider upgrading your
alternator to a high output alternator and be sure your car battery is up to the
demand of winching. For more info on Battery
Tech, See this.
The following sections will hopefully help provide some answers and
insight to common questions and considerations.