Best Winch Under $500: Reliable Winch That Meets Your Budget

Getting a winch for your off road truck need not burn a big hole in your pocket. There are still affordable yet super reliable winch available in the market. That is what this review is about - finding the top 5 best winch under $500. Perfect for your budget.

I will be finding the best selling winch under $500 and do an in-depth review of each winch. My choice will be on the basis of the winch being a recognized brand winch, durability and capacity.

If you are keen to know which under $500 winch to get, read my full review below.

But if you in a hurry to get one for your next trip, check out my top choice winch under $500 below:

What do you think of my top pick? Do you agree with me?

Well, continue reading to learn why I pick SmittyBilt 9500 Winch as my best winch under $500.

Networking with the most trustful mechanics, I have gathered the most recognized brands and models of winches available and the best of it is the price you can get them for less than $500. You will be able to expand your vehicle weight capacity, attach some extra cargo or hitch accessory of your choice with a functional, heavy-duty winch for an affordable price.

But first, let's look at the comparison table below.

Best Winch Under $500 Comparison Table

Product Image

Product Name

Product Capacity

Product Rating

Product Price

Smittybilt 9500 lb 97495 XRC GEN2 Winch

9500 lbs Capacity
Steel Cable / Synthetic Rope
Wired Remote
Waterproof (IP67)

Superwinch 1135220 Terra Single Line Pull Winch

3500 lbs
Steel Cable / Synthetic Rope
Wireless Remote
Completely Waterproof

WARN 101020 VRX 25-S Powersports Winch with Handlebar Mounted Switch

2500 lbs Synthetic Rope
Corded Remote
Completely Waterproof

Champion ATV Winch Kit

3000 lbs Capacity
49 ft Steel Cable
Handle bar mounted Remote Control

X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Winch

13000 lbs
Synthetic Rope
Wired Remote
Completely Waterproof

Pro Tip: Always pick a winch having at least 1.5 times more load capacity than your vehicle weight. If your vehicle weight is 6,000 lbs then your winch must have minimum 9,000 lbs load capacity. It will help prevent winch overload failure accidents.

Top 5 Best Winches Under $500 Review

Smittybilt 9500 lb 97495 XRC GEN2 Winch

Our Rating​

Features & Key Technical Data

9,500-17,500 lb. Load Capacity
Completely Waterproof

Corded Remote
Wire Rope

Powerful and lasting winch with a 6.6 HP motor and 3 stage planetary gear system. Endurable against any weather condition with a waterproof IP67 rating, it is a waterproof winch one of its kind with 500AMP solenoid protection.

This mighty winch can handle up to 9500 pounds in towing capacity and includes a corded remote so you can manage it from a safe distance and protect you from any harm that could cause it.

Durable, great performance, you can trust in this winch to get you out of any situation and to help you get others from extreme conditions, l5 year warranty in electrical and a lifetime warranty in mechanical.

 Electrical winch with a nice black finish and a cable length of 94” with a 5/16” diameter.

  • Easy to install
  • Waterproof winch
  • Coloring wiring diagram for a smooth connection.
  • Instructions included are not really helpful

Let’s watch the installing video of this Smittybilt XRC Gen2 winch:

If you are interested to learn more about Smittybilt winch, check out our comprehensive review on the best Smittybilt winch.

Superwinch 1135220 Terra Single Line Pull Winch

Our Rating​

Features & Key Technical Data

3500 lb. Load Capacity
Completely Waterproof, IP68 rating

Corded Remote
Synthetic/Steel cable

Effective and low consumption winch with a 1.6 hp motor that works with mechanical load and a dynamic brake to make the towing smoother and safer. Cable of 50” steel wire rope featuring free spooling hold. With a load capacity of up to 3500lbs and varied operation options.

Planetary gear is wider than other winches with oil pocket bronze bearings. This winch is well protected to outdoors conditions, rain and more with the solenoid seal that protects the circuit breaker. Affordable and mighty winch that will not let you down in those messy situations.

Included a mounting plate, roller fairlead, cable remote and mount toggle this winch works perfectly in both cable or synthetic rope. And is a versatile and long lasting winch with a limited lifetime warranty so that even when it lets you out it wont. Installation kit that brings all hardware needed to complete a proper installation.

You should also read my full review of all the Superwinch Winch.

  • Low consumption winch
  • HIgh performance atv winch
  • Circuit breaker protection.
  • Mounting bolts were too short.
  • Corded remote control.

Check my suggested winch accessories list that you should consider to go along with your affordable winch.

WARN 101020 VRX 25-S Powersports Winch with Handlebar Mounted Switch

Our Rating​

Features & Key Technical Data

2500 lb. Load Capacity
Waterproof, IP67 rating

Excellent Corded Remote
Synthetic cable

  • Quiet operation
  • IP68 waterproof winch
  • Powder finish against corrosion.
  • Instruction manual not very useful.
  • Mounting bolts may not fit all ATV’s.
Champion ATV Winch Kit

Our Rating​

Features & Key Technical Data

3000 lb. Load Capacity
Corded Remote Control
Synthetic/Steel cable
Dynamic braking system

Strong and endurable winch with a 3,000 pounds capacity, rated line pull and 1Hp motor. Cable of 49” feet well built rugged, latched hook. With a dynamic braking system and a gear reduction of 171:1 with a 3 stage planetary gear.

Mounting channer to make it easier to install with a remote control also included to provide a safer manipulation whenever using this winch. Free spooling clutch, and rope of galvanized steel, this winch is a 4 way roller and a standard mounting channel and its mighty motor of 12V DC.

 Protected against weather conditions, while not being waterproof is sealed so it can be secure even when used in rain. You will have a strong towing experience with this winch

  • Free spool option.
  • Easy and quick install
  • No solenoid.
  • Tricky control device.
X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Winch

Our Rating​

Features & Key Technical Data

13,000 lb. Load Capacity
Waterproof IP67 rating

​500AMP Solenoid valve
Galvanized cable

12V Winch with synthetic rope with a 23,809 lbs breaking strength to provide a smooth and easier handling with this winch, no sharp frays and its light and can even float in the water. Up to 13000 load capacity making this a reliable and strong winch that can withstand heavier loads than other winches on the market. Waterproof rating of IP67 to assure no problem with water, rain or mud as well as a 500AMP Solenoid valve.

This winch comes with a wireless remote so you can remain safe while using it. Ideal for two door jeeps and light SUV’s. Sealed contractor, strong motor and three stage gear planetary to  get a faster working winch at a lower consumption.

Lifetime technical support and one year limited warranty, you can choose orange or blue winch from the two options available. No worries about staying stuck with this winch that can get you out of any situation.
  • Quick and smooth installation.
  • Synthetic rope, free spooling
  • Wireless remote.
  • Vague instruction manual.
  • Claims of missing installation hardware.

What You Need To Know When Buying The Best Winch Under $500


How often are you planning to use your winch and how are you going to use it. Will you be lifting load or move it horizontally? This is something to consider because lifting and rolling capacity is completely different, also what type of load will you be towing with your winch? Equipment, a cargo carrier, trailer, boats? You can choose to tow anything in your vehicles capacity and that doesn’t exceed your winch weight capacity nor its tongue weight capacity. Other things to consider when buying a winch is the material, motor type and size to ensure it fits and can be mounted into your vehicle.

And without further ado, we are going to be listing the criteria that should be followed when searching for a winch and if you are trying to get the best winch under $500 at least you should get the best out of your money.


Winches come in different sizes and capacities, depending on what you are looking for as well as what is your current car capacity you should be able to narrow down your options. First, you must identify what class is your car so you can find a winch that is compatible to your car towing capacity then you can choose to how much are you looking to increase into the weight of your vehicle You can find winches from less than 4,000 lbs, the most effective or more versatile winches are found from 8,000-10,000. However there are higher capacity winches up to 18,000 pounds usually can be attached to Vehicles of Classes IV and higher.

It is important to consider that it is good to consider a weight that could offer a 25% greater than your gross weight to compensate for the loss of power when winding and for the extra force from gravity and friction which will be against you when towing. Also it is good to note that lifting and rolling load capacity are not the same, so make sure you know whether you will be lifting or rolling load so you can get a powerful winch that can do what you expect from it.


Another thing to consider when buying a winch is how it gets powered, there are only two options in the market Electric and Hydraulic, while Electric are the most sold ones because even if they must be hooked to a battery (most cases your car’s battery) they are faster at winding and are easier to install. Also, electric winches could include a remote control which makes it safer and easier to handle without putting yourself at risk when maneuvering it.

The only downside of electric winches is that they tend to draw power from your vehicle's electrical system, so you need to make sure you are getting a winch that your battery or electrical system can handle otherwise you will end up with a dead battery whenever you try to use your winch and that’s not what you should be looking for. If you still are deciding on a high amperage winch, you may want to get a dual battery or higher output generator.

While hydraulic winches use the steering pump power to fetch up the winch line. The good thing about them is that they don’t turn out because of low battery power and can stand water and weather conditions. The only downside is that these winches are harder to find and they do not fit all mounting installations and are too big to fit most vehicles.

Another powered winch is manual winches, these are simple and come with a modest traction capacity, these are good for small loads because their power source will be your arms, they work great for constructions. Manual winches could be operated by more than one person depending on the speed. The capacity of a manual winch is not greater than 2 tonnes for the biggest ones, as there is no power source, speed and can work well even with no electrical or power source available.

Mechanical or engine winches are another typical kind used in big constructions, this kind of winch are heavier and pricier than electric or even hydraulic ones, the perk of this mighty winches is that they can be used on continuous work if installed in a vehicle moving it to another one is not an easy task.

Steel or Synthetic?

One big controversy that can be found on most winches reviews and frequently asked questions is whether it is better to have it steel or synthetic cable and if both options are available. While this is not a big factor when deciding on getting a winch it can still affect it in the long run.

Which is the material you should choose your cable steel or synthetic, you will find that most brands have both available while getting a synthetic cable may come for an extra price which is not included in the regular fare(which includes a steel cable) Steel is still the most frequent choice, because is strong, thick and resistant? The only thing is that with steel cable within a period of time the cable will start to corrode or fry and even break. Usually happens when suffering a high tension and if you happen to experience a rupture of a steel cable you would want to be as far as possible from it, because the energy released by it when broken can cause serious injuries.

Because of that synthetic cables are more trusted because they are lighter and easier to handle when handling a steel cable you probably will need some strong gloves when the steel warms up in order to avoid any potential injury. That the synthetic cables are lighter doesn’t take from the strong and hold they can pull. These cables are stronger but more susceptible to rock and dirt. Both are great cables and perform well. It is just the winch and its power that will make the pulling easier and learning self-recovery techniques will come handy in any situation.

Cable length

Another frequent question or topic that is talked around winches is concerning the length of the cable. Most models come with a long or too long cable which can cause power loss due to the excessive rope will reduce the power of the winch, also a long cable could frequently get tangled which could jam the drum.

Yes a long cable is good when trying to attach the winch to the load but too much of it could become more of a problem than an advantage.


Winches are heavy equipment and because of that installing them isn’t as simple as you will install a cargo carrier or a hitch. Installing a winch might require extra help and something to consider is where you are going to mount your winch. The installation of this gear is tricky because a wrong installation could damage your winch or car.

You can mount your winch front or back, being front or bumper the most common one, however not all bumpers can handle the weight that a winch carries. So it's good to make sure your bumper can handle it or aim for a winch that can be mounted elsewhere on. As bumper mounting is one of the most common places to install winches due to how easy it can be compared to others and that it provides easy access to install brackets to power your winch.

 But whichever mounting option you choose, make sure your winch comes with all the essential hardware to smooth the installation process.

Best Winch Under $500 - FAQs

Can you do self recovery with a winch?

Yes, self-recovery is a way to describe that you can recover your vehicle by yourself without the need of a truck or vehicle to pull you out.

Synthetic rope or cable steel?

The synthetic rope is known as being safer than steel cable and is lighter than the regular steel cable. This makes it smoother to handle and if it breaks it doesn’t hold as much energy as cable does so it won’t be a projectile or as dangerous as a rupture from a cable steel could become.

How much weight do I need in a winch?

6,000 lbs is a good amount for SUVs and even trucks, however, the most effective and useful capacity is among 9,000 pounds with this weight capacity you can tow almost anything and the extra weight compensates for pressure and other compliments that may affect the winch from reaching its maximum capacity.

What is a brake system winch?

This is a secure or self-locking system that helps when vertical lifting this can stop the pulling in case you need to move or fix something or even move your vehicle and resume it once you are safe and are able to continue. This stops the load and is kept in place. 

How does a winch work?

The winch makes it possible for your car to pull from ditches or tricky places while getting back to the surface as well as to allow you to tow another vehicle, cargo, bike racks, a trailer and other heavy loads. By simply attaching your rope to the load and securing both winch and load you could horizontally tow your load or lift it. 

How to make your winch pull more?

By using a pulley block you can double the amount of capacity of your winch, also removing the extra rope from your drum will let you work in the pulling power zone.

What type of winch do I need?

The type of winch suitable for you will depend on the usage you are planning to give it, will you be towing several calls frequently or dead trees? Or are you mudding and rallying?

Winches work for multiple purposes but the most effective one will depend on the purpose you want it. Checking the reviews and descriptions could give an idea of the chosen winch is able to handle the weight you will require from it.

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