How to Use A Winch

Installing a winch into your vehicle is one of the best accessories you can add to your vehicle. Though your off road vehicle is specifically designed for the harshest of terrains, they can’t conquer them all. At some point in your trek, you may face some challenges and terrain that gets your car to get bogged down. From mud, snow, and steep rocks terrains, a winch can certainly be useful when stuck in those conditions.

Though you can at first get by having installed tow hooks and straps, they can only get you so far. You can use the tow hooks and straps by having someone pull you out using those tools. But there could be times that you are trekking alone or in the middle of the wilderness where help is unavailable. Plus, tow hooks and straps can’t handle the rougher the terrain becomes. So it’s best to be prepared for when these kinds of situations by having the right tools at your disposal. 

One of those tools that can be useful when stuck is a winch.

How Does A Winch Work?

A winch is a device used primarily for hauling or hoisting. It consists of a cable wrapped around a drum that is powered by a crank, hydraulic, or electric motor.  They are used to raise heavy objects and hoist structural frames. They were used since antiquity by the Greeks. They are still in common use today and can be especially helpful when your vehicle is stuck.

A winch consists of components:

  • Cable Wire: Winches always come with a chain or steel wire wrapped around the drum. The length of the wire can range from 9 meters to 36 meters in length. They are designed to withstand great tension from the hauling or hoisting movement.
  • Drum: A drum is a horizontal cylinder that keeps the wire wrapped around it neatly and prevents entanglement. The drum spins in a horizontal circular motion when winding the wire in and out.
  • Motor: The motor is what powers the entire winch, they are usually connected to the battery for power. The motor can either be hydraulic or electric, it depends on which models. There are manual motors too, but they are slow.
  • Gear Casing and Gear Train: This part of the winch is what transforms the power taken from the motor into pulling movement.

All these components are necessary for a winch to work. Together they can work to haul or hoist and object.

How To Operate A Winch Safely

As with handling all kinds of tools, it’s best to always keep and put safety in mind always. Winches are powerful, and they are intended to pull thousands of pounds of force, so they should not be taken carelessly.

  1. Safety: The most important before operating any winch is safety.  Here are some tips to ensure your safety. For more information on safety tips and precautions, please refer to this guide
  2. Plug the winch remote control into the winch: The winches you bought comes with remote control. It should be attached with a long cord, and look for a plug at the end of the cord. Attach the plug to it’s designated receptacle on the outside of the winch. Put your remote in the driver’s seat so that you can control it from the inside.
  3. Find A Stable Anchoring Point: Find a stable anchoring point that can withstand the weight of winching your car out.
  4. Disengage The Lever To Release Cable: The disengage lever is located outside of the winch. The lever should have labels that say “free spool” and “disengage”. Turn the lever to the option disengage, this allows you to manually pull out the winch cable. 
  5. Pull Out The Winch Cable: Pull out the winch cable from the winch, but don’t pull too much that it causes unnecessary slack.
  6. Wrap A Tree Trunk Protector Around The Stable Position:  A tree trunk is a nylon strap with a loop at each end. Wrap the straps around the stable anchoring point and position the loops around that they are facing you. 
  7. Attach A D-Shackle: Attach a D-shackle to the two ends of the straps.
  8. Hook The Winch Hook To The D-shackle: Winches come with winch hooks at the end of the cable. Connect the winch hook to the D-shackle, and make sure that the tip is facing up.
  9. Turn The Lever to Engage: Your winch should also have a label “Engage”. Turn the lever to the label “Engage”, this prevents from anymore winch cable from coming out.
  10. Winch The Vehicle Towards The Anchoring Point: Using the remote, winch your way towards the anchoring point. When this happens, the winch cable is slowly pulled towards the winch, causing the winch cable to tighten. Make sure to do the entire process methodically.
  11. Get In The Driver’s Seat: When doing the winching process, do it from within the vehicle and bring the remote with you. That way, you can supervise the winching the vehicle while pressing the gas.
  12. Gently Press The Gas: Drive the vehicle towards the anchoring point slowly while winching at the same time.
  13. Stop Winching: Once you find yourself in a stable position and now able to drive, stop winching.
  14. Unrig The Winch:  Now that you have recovered yourself from getting stuck, unrig the winch.


What Winch To Get?

Recognize that there are different models of winches for different models of vehicles. Electric motors power some winches and some are hydraulically powered. So consider what type of factors are related to your vehicle and your intended use for it. Bulldog Winch is one of the best and reliable winch companies out there.

Here are some recommendations on our part for getting the best Bulldog Winch.

  1. Bulldog Winch 15020 Trailer Winch
  2. Bulldog Winch 10041 Standard Winch
  3. Bulldog Winch 10029 Winch


Now that you have learned how to use a winch, what do you think? Did I miss something? Comment below.  We also offer some other tips and guides as well, such as Tips to Protect Yourself While Off-Roading and Off-Road Checklist.