How to Install a Winch

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Last Updated on June 21, 2022

The first question that comes to mind when considering how to install a winch is, “Do I need a winch?” or “Why do I need a winch?”

A winch offers several important advantages, some of which are well-known and others which you may not have considered. 

If you enjoy off-roading, a winch is a must-have because on a off-road trip, you may become stranded in rocky, muddy, snowy, or sandy terrain. Then you will need a winch to get out of this situation.

In certain situations, a calm and steady approach is all that is required to retrieve a 4×4 in more difficult terrain. Then, using a winch, you may slowly pull your car/jeep/ATV while maintaining complete control over the situation.

If you do not want to get trapped in a position like the one mentioned above, my advice is to have a winch.

To install your winch you need to know about four mounting configurations. 

Winch Mounting Configuration

  1. Foot down: In “Foot down” mounting configurations, four mounting holes of the winch will be at the bottom.
  2. Foot forward: In “Foot forward” mounting configurations, four mounting holes of the winch will be facing forward.
  3. Foot down OR foot forward: The winch will be installed in either foot down or foot forward in “Foot down OR foot forward.”
  4. Foot forward AND foot down: Two bolts will be used in the foot down and the other two bolts will be used in foot forward in “Foot forward AND foot down.” These winches can not be installed just in the foot down or foot forward position.

Tools you will need to install a winch:

  • Wrench
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver and
  • Heavy quality gloves

Installing/ Mounting a Winch – Step By Step

Now I am going to show you the easiest way to mount or install a winch with a few steps.

How to Install a Winch

Step 1 – Vehicle Inspection

While installing a winch, you must examine your vehicle. Check the bull bar thoroughly and make sure there is a mounting cradle for your winch. A horizontal cradle will be found on some vehicles, whereas a vertical cradle may be found on others. To access the clutch handle on a vertical cradle, the winch’s gearbox must be turned 90 degrees.

Step 2 – Winch Inspection

Check to see whether your winch has a third bar. It will assist you in securing the winch during carriage. Pull the gearbox out of the way to separate the drum. Remove the hex head screws with the help of a wrench from the gearbox and spin it to the proper position to attach the winch. Reversing the procedure completes the installation, and the winch is set to be mounted.

Step 3 – Mounting the Winch 

Thread the top bolts through the bull bar and into the square nuts on the winch after placing the square nuts in the hollow near the drum. Repeat the procedure with the bottom bolts, this time connect the fairlead as well.

Step 4 – Wiring the winch

Connect the positive (commonly red) wire to the positive post on the winch, and the negative (commonly black or brown) wire to the ground post. Then connect the positive wire from the winch to the positive post on the battery and the negative wire from the winch to the negative ground post on the battery.

Step 5 – Installing the Control Box

The control box must be attached to the bull bar once the winch has been mounted. The bracket should be removed from the control box to designate holes for drilling because the bar has no holes for attaching a control box. Drill swarf may be prevented from damaging the winch rope with the use of a cloth or a piece of cardboard.

Step 6 – Wiring the Control Box 

It is simple to connect the control box to the winch motor. Every wire has a separate colored rubber boot that matches the terminal to which it connects. The remaining big black earth line and small black earth cable will be connected to a bolt in the motor’s contrary direction.

Step 7 – Installing hook

To secure them; tighten each screw of the winch. Pull the winch cable out about 3 inches by releasing the clutch on the winch. This will fit the ferret, and there is a small amount of cable hanging out the front. Install the ferret and double-check that it is securely fastened. Finally, put the hook in place.

Step 8 – Testing 

After the winch has been linked to the battery, it must be tested to see if it is ready to use. You may use the hand control wireless by connecting the receiver to the control box or wired- by connecting the control box to the hand piece using the supplied cable.

Safety and Precaution

  1. You should not install a winch before reading and comprehending the operator’s manual since there may be guidelines about how to use the electric winch that is essential to understand.
  2. Verify to see if the mounting plate can handle the winch’s capacity factor before mounting a winch.
  3. The installation instructions are included with the winch frames. Choose a winch with a winch frame that is at least 5mm thick or thicker.
  4. During installation, oil the winch with high-temperature lithium grease.
  5. Tighten the winch with a dacromet (made of overlapping zinc and aluminum flakes in an inorganic binder) coated bolts and spring washers with a minimum grade of 8.8.
  6. Use synthetic winch lines because steel cable may stretch and store a tremendous amount of energy, which can be disastrous if unleashed all at once.
  7. Wear heavy gloves to protect your hands from injury or ripping.
  8. Installing the winch should not be rushed. Allow yourself as much time as you require.

Also Read: Reviews of Best Jeep Winches

Some Questions & Answers About Installing a Winch

Can you mount a winch without a bull bar?

Yes, a winch can be mounted without a bull bar, but it is much easier with one. A bull bar also offers other advantages, such as protecting the front of your car from an animal collision.

 Driving off-road is a bit risky. These have a variety of dangers such as pebbles, ruts, and sticks that might become trapped in an unusual location when driving. This type of unwelcome situation can be avoided with the help of the bar.

The contemporary bull bar has several perks; it must be airbag compatible, robust enough to withstand animal impacts, capable of mounting a winch, and compatible with modern cars that have a lot of equipment upfront. It must also be visually appealing. But bull bars are not just for show; they’re on 4x4s for a purpose.

Do I need a winch mounting plate?

Yes, you will need a winch plate to install any winch, and you’ll have to detach the bumper completely to install a winch. The OEM steel bumper does not include a plate.

Do I need a winch cradle?

Yes, you will need a winch cradle as the Cradle is installed between the bull bar mounts and the bull bar, which are attached to the chassis rails. Because the alloy bar is insufficient to hold the winch, the cradle is sandwiched between the mounts and the bar for further strength.

How much does it cost to install a winch on a truck

The cost is totally dependent on the truck and its size, the winch’s size and quality, and the labor bill. There are too many things to consider if you get it professionally done. Electricity, hydraulics, steam, mounting option, installation complexity and so forth. 

Typically installation will cost you around $100-$150. Installation isn’t that hard to be honest, you can do it by just following the above steps.

For a hundred dollars, you can purchase throwaway winches that will pull a standard riding mower onto a trailer. It is only the cost of the winch if you do it yourself.

You can buy a cheap Asian-made winch with steel cable for $300 but the winch will cost you around $500 or more if it’s an American-made winch with a synthetic line.

Don’t have a winch yet? Then check my reviews of best budget winches and get one!

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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