Winch Guide 101
How much money you spend on a winch depends on your budget and how much you plan on using it. Is the winch only for emergencies, or do you go offroading every weekend and plan on needing to be pulled out of a tight spot quite frequently on the rugged trails?
- Under $300: You can find a lot of budget-friendly winches for this price. Typically, they will be far less powerful, smaller, and less durable than more expensive models. However, they will do the trick in a pinch and should be able to pull your Jeep out when necessary. As with all winches, make sure that the pulling capacity is sufficient to tow your vehicle.
- $300 – $900: This is the most popular price range, with the broadest selection of high-quality winch models to choose from. Many winches with this kind of a price tag will come with more durable ropes and either be a synthetic rope or steel cable. You can also find winch models for this cost that have a wireless remote control, so you can access the winch easier and operate them from a safe distance.
- Over $900: These high-end winch models are designed for the most adventurous and fearless group of offroaders. They are equipped with the most powerful motors, most durable and heavy-duty cables, and most effective mounting to keep the winch where it is supposed to be and be able to pull your vehicle out from wherever it may get stuck.
How Do I Set Up A Winch?
Once your vehicle gets stuck, it is time to use your winch.
- First, you will want to find the remote control that is typically attached to your winch with a long cord. Check the end of the cable to find the plug. Make sure it is attached to the outside of the pulling device. Run the remote control cord from the winch to the driver’s seat and place the remote in the car.
- Switch the winch to free spool mode. This allows you to reel out the cable and attach it to the anchor object in a moment.
- Find a boulder, another vehicle, or tree trunk to anchor your tow strap or tree saver. Do your best to find an anchor that is straight in front of your car. Never wrap your winch cable around a tree, since the cable will damage the tree and hurt your cable line. Make sure if you are using a boulder, it is not a jagged boulder, and you put your tow strap at the very base of the rock. If you are using a tree as an anchor, the same concept applies. Be sure to place the tow strap or tree saver at the very base of the tree, to prevent your winch pulling the tree out of the ground and onto you or your car. Make sure it is a sturdy and robust tree. The two end loops of the tow strap or tree saver should be facing the direction of your vehicle.
- Release the cable by turning the lever so you can manually pull the wire rope. Make sure you are wearing protective gloves when winching the cable, so you don’t hurt yourself.
- Pull the cable to the anchor, where your tow strap is already looped around the anchor object.
- Use a D-shackle ring to rig the tow strap to your winch cable.
- Turn the lever on the winch back to the engaged position and use the remote control to slowly pull the cable wire until it is taut. You are now ready to pull your vehicle out.
- Before you begin, clear the area around and behind the vehicle to ensure no one can get injured. Get in the driver seat, grab the remote control, and slowly pull the car to the anchor, pressing the remote control button.
- While you pull the vehicle with the device, you should also gently press the gas pedal to help move the car forward more rapidly.
- Once the car is on stable ground again, and you can move your vehicle without the help of the winch, brake, and put your vehicle in park so that you can safely remove the equipment.
- Unhook the D-shackle ring from the cable and use the remote control to rewind the cord. Make sure you rewind it slowly and aren’t holding the wire cable in your hands at this point since it sliding through your fingers, even with gloves, can cut you.
- Unplug the remote control, unloop the tow strap, and put everything back in your truck. You are now officially done winching and are free to continue to get back on the roads and enjoy your trip.
Tips To Use A Winch Safely
- Always make sure you are safe when using any type of winch. Your winch should come with a list of safety features and guidelines, so make sure you follow the steps in order so that you can operate your winch safely and efficiently.
- If you get a winch with a steel wire cable, make sure that you always wear a pair of thick gloves, so you don’t hurt or cut your fingers. The steel can eventually develop small spikes or frays that will act like barbed wire and can severely injure you.
- To lessen the risk of straining your winch or the cable, you should pull it in short spurts, or at a slow speed. Slower line speed will reduce the chance of you damaging anything. Pull every 30 seconds or so, so that you can give your equipment a break and allow the winch system to cool down.
- Winches are not designed for towing a vehicle. A winch is specifically designed to pull a truck out of challenging situations. A tow cable is used to pull cars onto a platform. Replacing one for the other can lead to damaging your vehicle.
Everyone Should Have A Winch
Getting stuck can happen anywhere, no matter how careful you are on the road. Regardless if you are just casually traveling, or if you are an avid offroader, having a winch as part of your vehicle’s toolkit is essential. That way, if you ever do find yourself in a sticky situation, you don’t have to wait for a tow truck to come and save you. Instead, you have the freedom to pull yourself out, saving you both time and money, so you can get back on the road and be on your merry way.