CHOOSING A WINCH
Choosing the best winch for your truck is important as not all winches will be useful in all situations.
You should start by checking the manufacturer specs for your chosen bumper or winch mount, as not all winches will fit. Then, you need to consider what you intend to use your winch for. For example, a full-size pickup truck which is axle-deep in mud may not be recoverable using an 8,000lb winch.
Winches are expensive items, but they need to be heavy duty and well-engineered to operate in harsh and challenging situations.
You want to be confident that the winch will work when you need it most. A fast and powerful winch is useless if it doesn’t work when needed. Some budget brands promise the world for a low price, but in our experience they rarely deliver.
Your winch must be capable of doing what you need it to do. The motor power, gear ratio and rated pulling capacity must suit your needs. 4×4 vehicles are heavy, and recovery conditions can be harsh and demanding.
Water in the motor casing will rust the brush holders, seize bearings and short out when in use. Water in the gearbox will pit and corrode the gears and they will ultimately fail. Winches at different price-points will have varying levels of waterproofing.
Many winches come with basic cables and other fitting hardware, but some vehicles will need extended wiring (particularly Defenders as the battery is often mounted under the seat) and some bumpers will require winch installation kits and fairlead spacers.
Wired remote controls are a standard accessory in most cases, but a wireless control system can be useful and is also a safety benefit as it will allow you to control the winch from a safe distance.
Synthetic rope is a popular choice, as it is lighter weight and tends to fall to the ground if snapped, rather than recoiling and causing damage or injury. However, it doesn’t last as long as steel rope so you may need to replace it every few years depending on usage. Synthetic rope is also easier to damage in use.
Steel rope is still common, and is generally more durable although it adds additional weight to the vehicle. Steel ropes tend to last longer, but they are dangerous if snapped so careful use is required.
Winches are an electrical and mechanical device and require regular maintenance. Firstly, spool the winch in and out 20m or so before heading off on a trip, this makes sure everything is working as it should. Test the winch every few months to keep everything greased and turning freely, this also creates some heat in the motor to help dry out any traces of moisture.
Periodically (every 12 to 24 months depending on usage), open the motor housing and gearbox and inspect, re-grease and check over the winch. This will help to ensure many years of trouble-free use.