Winch Buying Guide: How To Choose The Right Winch?

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Last Updated on July 21, 2022

An old winch can go bad after you’ve got a significant usage out of it. Or you can simply feel like you need a new one. Now before randomly getting just any winch, it’s always smart to invest some time in figuring out what you’re exactly looking for in a winch. 

And to give you that proper knowledge I have decided to create a winch buying guide: how to choose the right winch and things like to discuss.

Hopefully, it will help you decide which one is worth the price and would be a great purchase.

Keep on reading till the end…

Winch Buying Guide: How To Choose The Right Winch

Here’s The Winch Buying Guide

The decision-making process is one of the hardest things for a noob. You have to note down all the necessary traits that can’t be avoided. Here are the 10 factors which you need to have in your best winch.

1. The Most Vital Factor Is Load Capacity

To buy the winch, you need to decide based on the load capacity carefully. As it has to pull the heavy truck out of difficult stuck situations, the winch should have good pulling capacity.

A good rule of thumb is keeping in mind that a winch should have 1.5 times greater load capacity than the max vehicle load capacity.

Formula: 1.5 x Vehicle Max Load Capacity = Winch Load Capacity.

But, there are some other serious things too that you need to count in order to know the right load capacity of the winch in certain situations.

  • The uphill or downhill slope of the land.
  • Rope layers number around the drum.
  • Resistance of the stuck part.
  • The friction of the truck.

2. Check The Motor Types

To power up the drum so that it moves and winches the truck through the cable, the motor plays a big role in the electric winch. Some need 3-phrase or permanent magnet motors while others use series wound motors. Go with a winch that provides the best power with no catches.

3-phase Motor

This is the standard type of motor that most winch uses. It needs low upkeep or care while ensuring no difficulty to start up. This confirms more efficiency with a powerful vibe. As a self-starting torque, it’s easier to fix.

Permanent Magnet AKA PM Motor

It ensures constant and stable powering when running. Most of the time, this kind of motor is tiny and weightless compared to others. The PM motor contains better start-up power but the speed is low compared to other ones.

Series Wound Motor

Being a universal motor type, it is safe to power up while winching. This ensures vast starting torque and produces a good power to pull the truck.

3. Look Into The Types Of Winch To Pick Suitable One

The winch usually comes in 4 different types. These are electric, hydraulic, manual, and pneumatic.  


This kind of winch is pretty inexpensive which grants long and short travel distances so that users can winch while controlling the line speed. It doesn’t make a sound to irritate during the procedure and ensures no leak, unlike the hydraulic type.


Made for off-road winching, this type of winch is suitable for large projects like pulling heavy trailers. It offers greater pulling power with stable drag to not harm the truck as well as itself. This type of winch lasts for a longer period.


Also known as a hand crank or hand wheel, this is best for pulling solo trucks. It is tough, versatile, effective, and most importantly safe to use. Plus, this kind of winch is pretty simple to take care of.


The pneumatic or air winches are suitable for tensioning projects. It holds great loads and offers accurate speed control. Apart from being safe and non-pollutive, it is one of the most expensive winches that make loud noises, unfortunately.

4. How Fast Does The Winch Pull?

No one would like to have a winch that takes lots of time to pull. During the buying decision, you might need to check the speed of the winch.

Most standard winches are able to pull 1.5 meters in 1 minute. Just ensure the winch is faster but it doesn’t harm the spool, drum, and other parts. 

Know that the faster winch will consume a big amount of power. So arrangements for that power to be available is also a serious concern you must have 

5. Having A Strong Rope Is Necessary

In the markets, you’ll mostly see 2 kinds of rope attached to them. One has synthetic and the other has steel rope. To decide one between two, you need to think of the characters both serve.

Synthetic RopeSteel Rope
Zero resistance against abrasion, rust, or spoilResist abrasion, rust, or rope damage
Approximately lasts for 10 yearsSurvives for 15 – 20 years
Light in weightQuite bulky in weight
Easy to tie if it breaks to continue winchingMight break like a slingshot and impossible to tie
Expensive to buyAffordable option

6. Drivetrain Is Something That Can’t Be Overlooked

Just like a car drivetrain, the winch also contains a drivetrain. To ensure movement in the right way, all winches contain 3 kinds of gear trains and these include spun, worm, and planetary gear.

Worm Gear Train

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Being a slow operating gear train, this tends to be weak in speed compared to planetary gear. This kind of drivetrain is mostly used in manual winches.

Planetary Gear Train

It contains tons of gear inside to move the winch. In the mid-point, you’ll see the sun gear while the outer side is internal gear. The planetary gears sit on the 3 sides of the internal gear. Nearly all winches have this kind of gear train since it’s both compact and light. 

Spun Gear Train

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It ensures delivering more than 60% – 70% power to ensure smooth winch movement. This kind of gear train is one of the most inexpensive options. 

7. Remote Or Integrated Solenoid Box

Now that you know the right winch to make a choice, it’s time to look into the control box of the solenoid. There are 2 kinds of solenoid boxes you’ll find in the winch and these include remote or integrated in general.

To put it simply, the winch solenoid can be controlled via a remote or switch. And you have to decide which one is suitable for your purpose.  

8. Select Winch From A Trustworthy Brand That Ensures Quality

Buying a winch from an unknown company will make you suffer as you probably won’t find any info to contact. 

In contrast, a brand that is known for its reliability will serve the best possible item that suits your project type. Most importantly you can contact them anytime. So, pick wisely!

9. Don’t Neglect The Price Point

Yeah, price does matter! But that doesn’t mean you only look into the dollar tag blindly. Think of the quality, traits, and other plus points to decide if the price seems logical or not.

If you think the price is higher than the good sides it offers, then simply remove it from your buying list. FYI, most winches will come at $250 – $1100 on average depending on their overall quality and performance capability.

10. Think About Other Factors Too

Lastly, you have to think of physical aspects which give advantages for long-term application. All you need to do is note down the given factor and match it with the selected winch.

Most winches are simple to mount unless you hop for a unique type. In general, the winch should take 1 to 2 hours to install at max to call it ‘easy to install’.

If you care about visual stuff, then look into the design and color to match. Ensure that the winch you have selected is suitable for your truck.

Wrap Up

Staying under the mud and calling for help won’t always work. You’ll need your winch to avoid a mess like that.

We hope this winch buying guide: How to choose the right winch is informative for you to know the essential factors which some overlook due to not enough access to information.  

You now know all the stuff, write it on your phone or notebook and check it when choosing a new winch. Now, Go Get One!


Want a complete winch buying guide: how to choose the right winch? If so, read this guide to know everything from A – Z!

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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