What Size Winch for UTV? Demanding Guide

For someone who does not really know, winches simply look like a hooked cable used for pulling and lifting, but winches have a lot more to offer. A winch is primarily a hoisting or hauling device which consists of a rope, chain or steel cable wound around a horizontal rotating drum. A motor connected to gearbox power the winch, which eventually turns the crankshaft connected to the horizontal rotating drum.

Car trailer winches have a number of uses, and they are a gadget to carry with you all the times. If you are looking to buy a winch for the first time for your UTV, you would surely find yourself confused about what the size of winch should be. With all the options available in the market with different types, specifications and sizes, it can feel quite challenging to find the ideal winch for your vehicle.

So in this article we will clarify which winch size you actually need and lead you towards making the right purchase decision so that you may get the winch that is best suited to your requirement

Basics for selecting a Winch

The initial point for deciding the type of winch you need for your ATV is the Gross Vehicle Weight which is also termed as the GVW. The GVW is determined by the manufacturer and it is engraved on a tag which comes attached to the vehicle. It includes the weight of all the accessories, extra furnishings and occupants.

To decide the winch capacity for your vehicle, you should increase the Gross Vehicle Weight by 30% and the value you obtain is the adequate winch capacity for your rig. However, getting one which can hold 50% extra pulling force compared to the vehicle’s GVW will be a better and more reliable idea, as too much winching capacity can never be a problem except for the added initial cost.

For a UTV or a side-by-side with a weight range of 700 – 1000 lbs, the suggested winch capacity is 4000 lbs which will compensate for the additional force required to overcome the situation when the UTV may get badly stuck.

The best winch size for a UTV

The capacity and pulling power of a winch depends a lot upon its size. Larger winches are likely to be more powerful than smaller ones, so they can generate greater amounts of torque to pull heavy vehicles like trucks. Most of the winches can be used to pull various types of loads under a variety of situations. However, for assurance of your safety and extracting the most benefit out of your purchase, there are a few guidelines that you must follow before choosing a winch for your UTV.

As mentioned earlier, the rule of thumb is to take your machine weight and multiply it by 1.5 to get an estimate of the pulling power that your winch should possess. However, winching on an incline, or when you get stuck badly requires a lot more pulling power. So if you know that you’ll be climbing in hilly terrains, then you should definitely opt for a stronger winch.

The application for which you want to buy the winch and your riding style is also very important to consider. Depending upon the type of riding you do, your winch needs may also differ. If you go off-the road and into the muds, then there is a high probability of your UTV will get stuck every now and then. For such cases, your winch should be strong enough to smoothly pull you out of such situations. But if you need a winch simply to plow snow in the winter, then going for a high weight rating will not be a sensible move and more of a waste of money.

Straining a winch at full capacity on a frequent basis is never a good idea, as this will make the winch wear away faster and reduce its life.  If you have a larger winch size, the work load on the winch would be less and it wouldn’t have to undergo as much strain to pull a load which will help it to last longer. A larger winch generally only proves to be an issue when you do not have enough room to accommodate it and the mounting plate on your vehicle wouldn’t accept it.

Therefore, considering a UTV you should go for at least 4000 lbs. capacity of winch. However, if you are having a UTV on the heavier side of things, or you plan to do anything in the mud and are liable to get bogged up, then you should go for one with an increased pulling capacity of about 4500 – 5000 lbs. This will provide you with enough power to pull yourself out of any situation. 

Other factors to look for in your Winch

There are some other points which you should take in consideration to make the best decision before buying a winch for your UTV. Firstly, decide a budget in mind and then look out for options within that. However, if you buy a very cheap one, it will eventually cost you more in the future with increased maintenance and replacement charges. Therefore, if you want to buy a reliable one which lasts long, you shouldn’t be worried about spending some extra bucks.

Installation of the winch should be easy, as if you get a complex one, it will get you frustrated and then you’ll have to spend money to hire a professional installer. So look for and buy an easy to install winch, which you can mount and dismount from your UTV at any time. You also need to make sure that you equip your UTV with a reliable winch mounting plate, otherwise no matter how superior your winch is, it would not be effective.   


Selecting the ideal winch size for your UTV will surely be a tough decision to make. Therefore, it is necessary to spend enough time to determine the most ideal size according to your needs. We hope that this article would have helped you a lot in this regard.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much can a 4000 lb. winch pull?

Pulling under 100 percent slope, a 4000 lb. winch can pull up to 5138 lbs.    

  1. Can a winch be too big?

For winches, the bigger is always the better unless you don’t exceed your budget by much.

  1. How strong is quarter inch winch cable?

A 1/4” winch cable of the WSC 7×19 galvanized type has a rated breaking strength of approximately 7000 lbs.

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