How To Wire A Winch

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Last Updated on December 29, 2021

A winch is not something you should take lightly if you are a serious off-road enthusiast. A winch will pull you out of some situations that otherwise would have required the help of 5 to 10 men. Having a self-recovery device that is powerful will surely make your ride smooth.

Different models of winch can pull off different jobs. You can install a winch on trailers and that will provide you the insurance of getting out of any stuck situation. Installing a winch on trailers is not a simple thing to do, but it gets more complicated when you get to the wiring part.

The proper wire connection is very vital in terms of a safe pulling session. Connecting the wires to the power source in the correct order and the correct way is a job you have to handle carefully. But don’t worry, this instruction guide will make it simple and easy.

I am going to guide you through a series of simple instructions and by following them, you won’t face any problem wiring your winch. Let’s get started.

Safety First

Before diving into the electrical wire connection part, let’s make sure you are in a safe environment. Some safety guidelines are provided below to ensure you don’t face any unfortunate events when dealing with electrical wires.

  • Be slow and steady: Take your time when connecting the wires with the power source. Don’t rush it. Keep in mind that a winch is designed in a way to deal with thousands of pounds, so the force and power it possesses can be dangerous if you are not careful.
  • Work In A Clean Space: Make sure there isn’t anything lying on the floor of your workspace that might make you slip or trip.
  • Use Gloves: A winch wire may include metal splinters, therefore wear gloves to protect yourself from injuries. Keep in mind that you’ll be working with electrical wires too, so take precautions to keep your hands safe.
  • Avoid Loose Clothing: Avoid wearing any loose clothing, jewelry, or watches that could become entangled in the moving parts of the winch.

The Wiring Part

Now that you followed the safety protocols, you can start out wiring your winch on a trailer. Usually, there are two different ways a winch and the winch battery can be connected to each other.

1# The Car’s Battery Is The Main Power Source

This approach is for the winches that use the car’s battery as the power source and they both are connected directly. 

Rear Of The Vehicle

  • Find the best spot to install a quick disconnect at the rear of your vehicle. The quick disconnect comes in handy when you need to attach or detach your wires quickly to make the car and the trailer winch disconnected.
  • Connect the quick disconnect’s negative wire, which is normally black colored, to a metal surface (make sure the surface is clean) on the car’s frame.
  • Now take the other wires from quick disconnect and run them to the car’s battery. Make sure to avoid places that might make the wires hot.

Under The Hood

  • Take the quick disconnect’s red wire, which is the positive wire, and connect it to the positive post on the battery.
  • Now use the negative wire that you separated earlier (the one with eyelets at both ends) to ground the battery right to a clean, metal surface of the car’s frame.

On The Winch

  • The positive wire needs to be connected to the positive post on your winch.
  • The negative wire goes to the negative post on your winch.
  • Run the other ends (the one with the quick disconnect) of both positive and negative wires to the coupler on the trailer.

Finally, to have power, connect the two quick-disconnect (from the car’s and trailer’s). That should do the trick.

2# A Winch With Its Own Power Source 

You can follow this technique if your winch has a power source of its own. This is especially advantageous if you use the winch on a regular basis and don’t want your car’s battery to deplete quickly.

  • Locate a suitable spot to install a battery as the power supply for the winch.
  • Cover the batteries along with the wirings in order to protect them from the outside elements.
  • Connect the power and ground lines to the proper winch posts.
  • Take the ground and power wires and run them to the battery you mounted earlier on the trailer.
  • The positive wire needs to be connected to the positive post on your winch.
  • The negative wire goes to the negative post on your winch.

Wrapping Up

So, that’s how you can wire a winch without any help from others. I tried to be as specific as possible but if you still think I missed something, please let me know and I will add it to my instructions list.

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Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to a Nissan Titan and explaining the merits of it to anyone who'll listen

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