Making the right choice among electric winches is not easy. From the variety of models, modifications, brands, and prices anyone may get confused. Of course, there are proven brands that have established themselves and have many positive reviews, but there are also less well-known, budget options.
Aside from the budgetary issues, there are also the issues of quality, durability, performance and other perks and features. To help you make a good decision, here are some tips on buying trailer winches.
Before proceeding with the search for a winch, it is necessary to answer 4 main questions:
- What to pull?
- How to use it?
- Where to attach?
- How easy is it to repair?
Reflections on the answers will take not too much time. But if you take into account these key factors, the choice is reduced to several options, among which you will definitely find one that is ideal for your off-road vehicle.
What to pull?
The main tip on buying trailer winches is the winch traction should be about 2 times more than the weight of the vehicle. However, this rule applies only to 100% off-road vehicles. For SUVs and other heavy vehicles, such traction is not needed. For a winch to be enough, the traction should be at least 1.5 times the mass of the car.
This refers to the actual mass with all the equipment, and not that recorded in the technical specifications of the automaker. So, if you have a Volkswagen Tiguan with a curb weight of 3858 lbs, which travels with 3-4 passengers and 130-250 lbs of cargo, a winch with a pull of about 4.5 tons will be enough for it. That is, ideally, this is a winch with a capacity of 9500 lbs.
If the car is not loaded to the limit and does not go into the most difficult places, then 9000 lbs will be enough. If, on the contrary, additional equipment weighing 660-750 lbs is added to the machine, then it will be better to sink and drive worse, so you should look at winches with a range of 10,000 to 12,500 lbs. such as the XBull Winch.
And if the machine is as light as possible for competitions and if the limited number of passengers do not carry anything extra in equipment, it is better to use lighter and faster winches, for example, with the traction of 8800 lbs, but high speed.
Exceptions to 2X Capacity
Sometimes there are exceptions to this rule. An interesting example of this is the light SUVs Suzuki Jimny and Samurai. With a curb weight of just over 1 ton and a total weight of about 1.4 tons or 3086 lbs, a capacity of 6,000 lbs is enough for them if the machine is used to travel for mushrooms or fishing. With more difficult operation on off-road terrain, these cars are able to get stuck in a swamp and rest against the front axles, which will work normally with mechanisms with the traction of 8000-9000 lbs.
Allowance for Unknown Elements
Another reason why the winch should be powerful enough to pull more than your vehicle’s weight is to make allowance for certain environments. For example, if ever your Jeep gets stuck in mud, or on a downward slope, then its weight will automatically increase.
How to use it?
This is the second most important factor related to tips on buying trailer winches. It suggests the frequency of use of additional tools to pull cars out from impassable places. If not more than a few times a year, then almost any winch is suitable, even with an inexpensive design. If you have to work with this tool regularly, you should take a closer look at more complex options. Sometimes the same brand may have different series of winches.
Low-cost car winch series: T-max EW, Comeup DV.
Advanced car winch series: T-max X-power, Comeup Seal, and Seal Gen2.
Advanced models are distinguished primarily by improved dust and moisture protection of the engine and other elements of the winch. There are other differences, such as:
- A more powerful engine
- Higher speed
- The increased distance around the drum
- The presence of a more advanced configuration
Time Factor to Consider
The time factor has a great influence on the choice of a winch. If for a stuck in a swamp fisherman or a mushroom picker, getting out in 10-15 minutes using a winch will be more than acceptable, it is quite another thing when you participate in a linear off-road race, where you need to pull yourself out in 3-5 minutes. In addition, other crews can rush you if it is difficult to go around you.
These circumstances also affect the choice of the winch, including its traction. If you have to hurry – have a margin. If there is a lot of time – you can try a weaker mechanism.
As for the increased distance around the drum – if the winch is of high quality, it can allow full pulling out at a large angle. And if the quality is lower, when pulling at an angle, part of the cable is spool on one side, after which it is necessary to unspool it and spool it again correctly.
Generally speaking, it is better to have a wider drum. A wider drum can significantly decrease the amount of pressure on it because the weight will be better distributed.
Where to attach?
The easiest installation is on the power bumper. There are practically no restrictions. It is difficult to find a winch that does not fit a specially designed place. The most delicate installation is hidden, in a regular bumper.
Before this type of installation, some important details must be checked:
- Does the winch fit into the bumper shell geometrically?
- Does it block the radiator?
- How is the block of contactors made: remote or integrated?
- What is the length of the steel cable or synthetic rope?
- Is there an installation platform for this winch?
You can find out if the seller has his own installation center, and act in accordance with the situation.
Truly Understand the Manual
It is important to make sure that you have all the right information before attempting to install. If you are already halfway through installation, then only to discover that you do not have all the tools, or that the wires are too short, or that the winch can’t fit anywhere, then you just got yourself a big headache.
Also, a lot of the time, winches are not really easy to install if you only have the manufacturer’s manual as a guideline. I have seen so many complaints about manuals not being clear enough.
Find Tutorial Online
If this is the case for you, I suggest that you search for guides or tutorials online. A video is preferable as it provides a clearer perspective. But if there is no video guide, a tutorial with pictures is the next bet. As much as possible, try not to rely on your own imagination, especially if you have no experience in winch installation.
How easy is it to repair?
When buying the first winch in their life, not many people think whether they will find spare parts for it – a brush assembly, contractor or an engine because off-road troubles often occur, and we are not always able to prevent them.
Official dealers have spare parts, but some parts are supplied to order and you will have to wait for them for a while. These are the types of parts that are specifically manufactured only for the winch you have. This means that you can’t get them anywhere else besides your winch manufacturer.
In accordance with “How easy is it to repair?” you should also consider how durable and damage resistant your choice of winch is. This saves you a lot of headache, money and effort. You should look for features such as waterproof rating, build of materials, heat dissipation, among others.
Such features will ensure that you can use your winch even in emergency situations. You will not be caught stuck in any environment because you know that the winch can work in it.