The following page lists many common problems encountered with 12 volt 4×4 and ATV winches that are used in off-road recovery situations. With each condition several possible causes are listed along with possible solutions to get your winch working again. Also be sure to check out the Winch Maintenance article at the bottom of the page.
|MOTOR RUNS IN ONLY ONE DIRECTION||(1) Defective solenoid or stuck solenoid||(1) Jar solenoid to free contacts. Check by applying 12|
volts to coil terminal (it should make an audible click when
|(2) Defective remote control switch||(2) Disengage winch clutch, remove remote control switch plug from the socket and jump pins at 8 and 4 o’clock. Motor should run. Jump pins at 8 and 10 o’clock. Motor|
|MOTOR RUNS EXTREMELY HOT||(1) Long period of operation||(1) Cooling-off periods are essential to prevent overheating.|
|MOTOR RUNS, BUT WITH INSUFFICIENT POWER, OR WITH|
LOW LINE SPEED
|(1) Insufficient battery||(1) Check battery terminal voltage under load. If 10 volts or less, replace or parallel another battery to it.|
|(2) Bad connection||(2) Check battery cables for corrosion; clean and grease.|
|(3) Insufficient charging system||(3) Replace with larger capacity charging system.|
|MOTOR RUNS, BUT DRUM DOES NOT TURN||(1) Clutch not engaged||(1) If clutch engaged but symptom still exists, it will be|
necessary to disassemble winch to determine cause and
|MOTOR WILL NOT OPERATE||(1) Defective solenoid or stuck solenoid||(1) Jar solenoid to free contacts. Check solenoid by|
applying 12 volts to coil terminal (it should make an
audible click when energized).
|(2) Defective remote control switch||(2) Disengage winch clutch, remove remote control switch|
plug from the socket and jump pins at 8 and 4 o’clock.
Motor should run. Jump pins at 8 and 10 o’clock. Motor
|(3) Defective motor||(3) If solenoids operate, check for voltage at armature|
post; replace motor.
|(4) Loose connections||(4) Tighten connections on bottom side of hood and on|
|MOTOR WATER DAMAGED||(1) Submerged in water or water from|
high pressure car wash
|(1) Allow to drain and dry thoroughly, then run motor|
without load in short bursts to dry windings.
|CABLE DRUM WILL NOT FREESPOOL OR IS DIFFICULT TO FREESPOOL||(1) Clutch not disengaged||(1) Check clutch operation according to nameplate. Make|
sure clutch shifter knob is fully at “OUT” position.
|(2) Winch not mounted squarely causing end bearing to bind drum (model dependant)||(2) Check mounting to see that installation instructions have been followed.|
|Ring gear retainer capscrews are too tight. (model dependant)||(3) Remove the gear housing cover, 413018, and all gears|
from inside the gear housing. Disengage the clutch and
check to see that the ring gear will rotate by hand. If it will
not, using a hex (allen) wrench, slightly loosen all the
capscrews and then snugly re-tighten them in criss-cross
pattern, but do not over-tighten. The ring gear must rotate by hand. Re-assemble winch.
You can test a winch solenoid by doing bypass test to determine if the problem lies in the switch or solenoid. Use a lead of 12 gauge wire and jump from the battery +12V and contact the green wire on the solenoid. The winch should operate in one direction. Then apply the +12V wire to the black wire on the solenoid. If the winch does not work in the other direction then the solenoid has a problem.
The direction of the winch movement, whether in or out, depends on which of the two two solenoid contacts is connected to the 12V power source with your lead wire. If the winch moves in only one direction, inspect the connections on that solenoid and ensure they are clear of corrosion and make good contact.
To test the motor, apply the +12V power wire to each of the two terminals on the motor. The motor should operate in both directions. If it does operate in both directions then you know the motor is ok and the problem probably lies in the switch or solenoid.
Inspect the wire rope before and after each winching operation. If the wire rope has become kinked or frayed, the wire rope needs to be replaced. Be sure to also inspect the winch hook and hook pin for signs of wear or damage. Replace if necessary.
Keep winch, wire rope, and switch control free from contaminants. Use a clean rag or towel to remove any dirt and debris. If necessary, unwind winch completely (leaving a minimum of 5 wraps on spooling drum), wipe clean, and rewind properly before storage. Using a light oil on the wire rope and winch hook can keep rust and corrosion from forming.
Operating your winch for a long period of time places an extra burden on your vehicle’s battery. Be sure to check and maintain your battery and battery cables according to manufacturer guidelines. Also inspect switch control and all electrical connections to be certain they are clean and tight fitting.
Inspect the remote control for damage, if so equipped. Be sure to cap the remote socket to prevent dirt and debris from entering the connections. Store remote control in a protected, clean, dry area.
Many winches require no lubrication for the life of the winch. However check with your manufacturer’s instructional manual for specific maintenance and lubrication requirements.