How to Test a Winch Motor

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Last Updated on June 27, 2022

The winch motor, as we all can agree, is a very important and a key component of a winch. Without it, the functionality of the winch would go astray. One can also say that without a motor or a functioning motor, a winch would only be as good as its spare parts. 

Today we will tell you about the ways to test your winch motor so that you can always ensure that it’s always at its best to be used. 

How to Test a Winch Motor

1. Jumper Cable Test

It is a form of winch hot wiring test to check whether the motor is working or not. Understanding how the electricity and the device work is a rather straightforward procedure. To do this test, follow the procedures below.


Firstly, disconnect any wires that are connected from the winch to your vehicle.


Then, get the battery/cell of your car. If you don’t want to use that, any spare battery would work as well.


Get your jumper cable and link it to the winch’s cords from the battery. Although polarity isn’t vital, we recommend connecting the black cable to the negative end of the battery and the red wire to the positive end.


The other terminal of the black cable should be linked to whichever end of the winch.


After that, take the red cable and gently tap the winch’s other connector. This will cause the winch to respond electrically. If you notice the drum moving, the motor in your winch is working.

If not, you should stop the experiment since the winch’s electrical component may be malfunctioning or your winch’s motor may be broken.


You can attach the drum to the terminal if it moves once you touch the cable attached to the positive terminal. This should make the winch’s drum rotate in one way.


To make sure everything is in order if you reverse the whole cable connectivity, then you should see that the drum is moving in the other direction

Testing Winch Motor

Possible Problems and Solutions

  • One of the problems could be having a blown fuse. This is primarily an electrical issue. It’s possible that the winch blew the fuse because it drew too much energy. The link to the circuit would be disrupted as a result of this. This issue could be resolved by changing the fuse.
  • A short circuit could also be a problem. This short circuit can be caused by a broken wire inside the winch. It may be within the switch. Inspect all the cords for any exposed wires and patch them to ensure that’s not the problem.
  • If you get an electrical response from the winch when you touch the positive cable that’s on the winch’s end during your testing, it shows the electrical link is fine. However, if the drum hasn’t moved despite that response, the issue must be with the brushes of the motor. 
  • This issue can easily be resolved by simply replacing old brushes with new ones. Simply unlock the motor casing to replace the faulty pieces.

2. Voltage Drop Test

This test will give you assurance about the health of the electrical parts of the winch, not the motor of the winch itself. Steps to test are as follows-

  • Set your multimeter in VDC by simply turning the selector dial to DC voltage setting
  • One of the probes should be connected to the winch’s grounding, while the other should be connected to the winch’s blue or yellow wire. In this instance as well, polarity holds no significance.
  • You can now turn on both the winch and the multimeter at the same time. You should be able to observe that the winch’s running voltage will be closer to the multimeter reading. If you don’t, the issue is likely to be with your winch’s electrical components. 

This problem can easily be fixed by simply cleaning the motor. That’s because small particles may get inside the winch and disturb the current flow by getting to the wirings. 

Voltage Drop Test

Steps to clean your winch’s motor- 

  • Firstly, pull the battery out of the motor
  • Then get a spritz of brake cleaning liquid and use a toothbrush to clean the housing and the motor of the winch.
  • Wait until the liquid has dried off before reassembling. 
  • Perform any of the two tests given above to check for better results

Safety Precautions

Of course, before any testing with your winch, your main priority should be to take all sorts of safety precautions. This is to minimize any kind of risks you may face during the testing.

So, you must not intervene with the electrical components of the winch if you are not sure of the way it works. To work with it, you must first learn about that. Only then, you should work with the electric part of the winch motor. 

You must also wear proper hand gloves. You must ensure that they are of premium quality and strong enough for the task at hand. Another thing you are required to ensure is that all the equipment you are going to use is of the best quality. In case any of it isn’t, you or someone can get hurt unnecessarily.

Always keep an eye out for any flammable substance in the area you will be working on. Since there might be some electric sparks going on while you work, it can easily trigger any material that can cause fire immediately. 


How to use a multimeter for testing a winch solenoid?

Connect a voltmeter to the larger studs on the solenoid when the winch is turned off. The solenoid’s winch edge has two big studs. The voltmeter should read 12 volts if the winch solenoid is working properly.

Why does my winch not come out after it goes in?

If it works, you know it’s not a connection issue and not the winch motor. The button on the handlebars reverses the motor’s negative and positive clink, letting it turn in either way.

Let’s watch a video explanation on winch motor test:


We have shown you the best solutions to the problems you may face with your winch’s motor. But it must be one of your primary duties to maintain your winch from time to time so that your winch is always performing at its peak. However, if there are issues you face, the solutions we provided should be enough to fix them!

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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