How to Hook Up a Winch (Don’t do this)

Over the past few years, the popularity of off-roading sports, activities, and rallies has surged among enthusiasts. Off-road vehicles such as ATVs, UTVs, or SUVs are commonly chosen for these adventures, but they often find themselves stuck in mud, snow, or soft sand.

In such scenarios, having a winch attached to your vehicle becomes crucial for the peace of mind needed to explore freely. Winches prove invaluable in sticky situations where calling roadside assistance is impractical. These devices, equipped with a chain, rope, or cable winding around a horizontally rotating drum, facilitate the hauling and lifting of vehicles.

Now, let’s delve into the essential steps of how to hook up a winch to your vehicle. This knowledge ensures you’re well-prepared to utilize it independently during times of need, eliminating the reliance on external assistance.

Factors to consider for first time Winch Installation

There are several things which you need to think about, before getting a winch installed in your vehicle for the very first time. If you simply pull out a new winch out of a box and bolt it on a bumper, it can cause issues when you need to use the winch.

So first you should carry out your research and go through our product comparisons and buying guides, in order to decide which winch to buy and learning how to use it safely once you buy it. Your first winch should not necessarily be a top notch and an expensive one, so the basic installation techniques which you learn will actually work out for almost all sorts of winches. Most of the winches come with a remote control, electric cables to provide connection to your battery, a winch hook, winch line, fairlead, and most importantly in our context, the mounting hardware.

The fairleads also come in two styles which are roller and hawse

You should make sure to go through the instruction manual and safety warning before starting with the installation of your winch. This is because the incorrect installation and use of winches can lead to accidents and can inflict injuries. For choosing a winch, the rule of the thumb is to opt for the one with 1.5 times the capacity compared to the weight of the vehicle. It is fine to go with greater than necessary pulling power but not good to go with less thus we apply the factor of safety.

Getting your Winch Hooked Up

To install a winch in your vehicle, you will require winch mounting plate or a winch bumper that is in accordance to your vehicle and the design of the winch you are installing. The bumper should also have a weight rating as much as the winch you buy, otherwise the cause of failure will be the bumper. A winch rated to pull 10000 lbs. wouldn’t do as good if the winch bumper it is installed on has a capacity of 7000 lbs.

Therefore, a standard winch mount should comprise of a solid construction made of at least 0.25” flat steel plates and possess a four-bolt mounting bolt pattern that measures a minimum of 10 by 4.5 inches. You will need to bolt the fairlead on your bumper or mounting plate, before you bolt up the winch. This is to be done, because if once you mount the winch, there is usually lack of space to fish the two fairlead bolts through from the backside.

It is important to consider how your bumper or winch mount is designed, in order to decide the step sequence of winch installation. For some bumpers, you have to install the winch first into the bumper followed by lifting and attaching the whole assembly to the vehicle. For others, it is recommended to install the winch on the bumper mount separately and then installing the winch line.

After this, you have to attach the winch line to the drum, in case the wire cable is not factory spooled. Most of the bumpers are easier to hook up the line on the workbench or the garage floor before installing the winch in the bumper, while others have good access to the winch drum, so you can easily attach the winch line after bolting the winch in place.

Final steps in Winch Installation

After the basic installation, you will be installing a fairlead which prevents the line from getting entangled and keeps it from coming off the spool. It ensures smooth operation regardless of the type of winch line. After installing the winch mounting plate, you will attach the fairlead to it using the bolts the come in the package. You should make sure to pass the hook at the end of the cable through the fairlead before attaching it, in case the cable has one.

Finally, you will have to wire up your handlebar and the remote controller. Make sure that the negative terminal of your battery is disconnected, in order to avoid short circuits. It is important to find the proper spot on your vehicle to place the rocker switch. The handlebar switch will be connected to the solenoid and then to the power source of the vehicle. Then you will connect the green and black wire to the controller or the solenoid box in order to give the winch its electrical connection. The black wire goes to the right side, while green goes to the left side of the terminal.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I connect winch directly to a battery?

Yes, it is possible to attach the winch connections directly to the battery terminals, if the wires are long enough.

2. Do I need a fuse between battery and winch?

A fuse or circuit breaker is not really needed, because one large enough to allow your winch work will protect nothing.

3. Can a winch be powered using jumper cables?

For easy pulls and short uses, jumper cables are good, but for heavier winching you need big cables.

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