PTO Winch Vs. Electric Winch

Back in the old days, the off-road enthusiasts would frequently argue which winch is the best. PTO winches or Electric Winches? Many forums discuss this very same topic, but nowadays, rarely do you hear it. Even finding a PTO winch is hard these days. 

It seems like, in the end, Electric Winches dominated the market. Everywhere, you can find electric winches for sale. At a click of a button, you can have an electric winch at your front door in no time at all. For a PTO winch? You need to scour the depths of the internet to find one. 

However, don’t just disregard the PTO winch just yet. PTO winches have some advantages over Electric winches, but is it enough that you should buy PTO winches over Electric winches? We will break down what are the advantages of each winch and see which one is the best. 

PTO Winches 

What Are PTO Winches 

PTO winches are not one of the popular winches nowadays. But back in the day, it reigned over electric winches. It winds faster and is more reliable than electric winches. So what are PTO winches?

PTO winch or Power Take-Off winch is not your typical vehicle-recovery winch. The way it works differs much when compared to modern winches. 

The most common winches you can buy are hydraulic winches and electric winches. But a PTO winch is none of these two—rather than relying on hydraulic pressure and electric motors—a PTO winch relies on the car’s transmission. As long as the engine runs, a PTO winch can do its job. Plus, they are more reliable and more efficient.

How Do PTO Winches Work?

Most PTO winches you can find in use today are in either truck, tractors, and off-road vehicles. These vehicles typically have one or more areas that allow for PTO winch mounting. PTO winches are purchased separately from the vehicle, and you will need to procure one yourself. However, getting one could get tricky. Not only are they hard to find, but they have to be compatible too.

PTO winch manufacturers require you to submit your car’s specifications first. They need to check if any PTO winches in their inventory will fit in your vehicle, and that’s just the start. Installing the PTO winch is a whole new difficult process, and remember that you will be connecting the winch to the gearbox.

PTO winches have some hydraulic pumps attached to them. It allows the distribution of mechanical force through the hydraulic fluid system throughout the vehicle. During the distribution, a hydraulic motor will receive the mechanical force and convert it to rotational motion.

A PTO winch is indeed powered by the gearbox, but it isn’t directly attached to it. Instead, a hydraulic system stands in between the winch and the gearbox. Hydraulic systems are tubes filled with hydraulic fluids. Think of it as sort of a wire, but unlike wires, hydraulics are running through it.

How Much Power Does A PTO Winch Have?

As said earlier, a PTO winch relies on the vehicle’s gearbox to wind or unwind itself. So naturally, it is the engine that dictates how powerful a PTO winch can get. 

PTO winch certainly has enough power to pull your vehicle along. After all, the same force that moves your car along the road is instead applied to the winch.

Electric Winches

What Are Electric Winches

Electric winches are the most common winches you can find. You can find different electric winches for different weight capacities. You have plenty of options for electrical winches, and there is no way you cannot find a winch for your particular vehicle. Plus, they are very easy to install too. 

How Do Electric Winches Work?

As the name suggests, it is powered by an electric motor that is connected to a battery. For your vehicle, it is connected to the car’s battery. 

The problem with car batteries is that they are designed for starting a car, and they are not made for winding a winch. As a result, you might want to keep your engine running when pulling to avoid draining it out completely. Even then, you should be wary of your battery heating up. So when you pull, there should be some intervals before another pull.

However, it is also an advantage in a way. Even when your engine is dead—and it does happen—you are still able to winch. If you want to avoid draining your battery, you can either buy a more powerful battery or bring an extra one. 

How Much Power Does A Electric Winch Have?

The power of an electric winch depends on what winch you bought. Some winches have only a 2,000lbs capacity rating, while some have a 12,000lbs capacity rating. Pick whichever rating you need for the job. 

Which Is Better?

Electric winches are all the craze these days. Unlike the years before, electric winches have come a very long way. They are no longer unreliable, and nor are they prone to overheating. They are easy to find, and you have plenty of options. Plus, they are very easy to install, and maintenance is now easier than ever.

On the other hand, PTO winches have not seen any development. They are still the same as a couple of years before. They are very hard to find, nor are they easy to install either. Even if you manage to find one, they are very expensive, and they are secondhand too. I don’t think you can even find a new PTO winch these days.

Sure they are reliable, but the options they have are very limited. Maintenance is also a hassle, and there are only very few tutorials about it. 


Electric Winches are the clear winner. They are accessible, user-friendly, and can perform as well as PTO winches. The only upside a PTO winch has is that it doesn’t need any battery. 

Do you think I answered the question well? Do you have any suggestions? Feel free to comment on them below! Also, we have other blogs and guides as well, you might want to check them out.