Don’t Buy a Used Winch Before You Read This Guide

A winch is a powerful tool that you can utilize in a lot of tiresome situations. It is very useful, not only for vehicle recovery, but in pretty much anything that needs extraordinarily powerful pulling.

In today’s market, high-quality winches are very expensive. If you don’t have enough budget, then you can buy a used winch at a cheaper price.

Having the proper knowledge of what to consider while choosing a used winch will help you to save your money and get a good quality winch at a cheaper price.

Just like the considerations when buying a brand new winch, there are a lot factors to consider when buying a used winch.

In this article, I’ve explained the factors that you should consider to pick a good quality used winch. If you ever plan to buy a used winch, then follow this article A to Z.

Let’s dive into the core section of my article.

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Primary Advice to Buy a Used Winch

While you’re going to buy a used winch, the first thing you need to know is what you’re looking for. What types of winch do you want? Do you want a series wound motor winch or permanent magnet motor winch? Do you want a winch with spur gear, worm gear or planetary gear?

Determine how you’re going to use the winch. How much winch capacity do you need? You also need to take into account the mounting options.

Considering all of these will help you to identify the best one for your needs.

Let’s pick those questions one by one.

There are many types of winches, each meant for varying purposes. There are off-road winches, boat winches, portable winches and others. For an in-depth look into the types of winches, see this page.

You should for the winch that will best suit your needs and purposes.

As for the motor of the winch, both a series wound and a permanent magnet motor have their own pros and cons. Since this is not a mechanical engineering site, we’ll just cover the brief differences of the two.

A permanent magnet motor suffers from less copper reduction. Such motors also provide a higher amount of torque even at low speeds. While that sounds very promising, a permanent magnet motor suffers from performance issues due to aging. This means that the longer the motor’s life is, the less effective it is.

In the case of a series wound motor, although it doesn’t provide the same level of torque at low speeds, it can be trusted for high power applications.

As for the gear, you should only know that the cheaper the gear is (spur, then worm, then planetary), the lower their torque application is. This means that if you are planning to use your winch to pull trucks, you should opt for the winch that has a more expensive gear.

As for the pulling capacity, this depends on your purposes for the winch. If you are only planning on using it for pulling heavy machineries, choose a winch with at least a 1000 lbs capacity. ATV/UTV winches have a capacity of around 4500 to 2500 lbs.

The heavier the objects you want to pull an item with the winch is, the higher its working capacity should be.

There are multiple mounting options for winches. If you want to mount it permanently on your vehicle, there are at least four options.

The bumper mount offers the most versatility. The hidden mount is perfect for those who like the way their vehicles look as they are. The multi mount is perfect for those who actually do not want to permanently mount their winches onto their car. The winch bumper mount is perfect for winching functions combined with a solid bumper protection.

Inspect the Winch from Top to Bottom

Inspect the overall condition of the winch carefully. Be patient. Don’t hurry!

If the winch is painted, how does the paint look like? Does the paint look rusty?

What’s the condition of the winch cable? Make sure if it’s the original cable and how old it is. If it’s a synthetic rope, then carefully check if there are any fraying or tears. Replacement of cable can cost a lot. If the cable is synthetic, then it’s even more expensive.

If the cable condition is not good, then it can be very dangerous if it snaps. If the winch comes with synthetic rope, check for sun fading, cuts and knots. After checking the cable, look for a fairlead and inspect if there is a lot of wear.

Inspect the condition of the controller for any indications of excessive wear or damage. This will give you a good indication of how well the previous owner took care of the winch.

The next step is testing. Bring at least a set of jumper cables or a 12-volt battery and power leads to verify the winch works.

Check out the housing, wiring and solenoid packs. If there are any crimps found in the wiring, it could be a potential break. Also, inspect “hot spots” on the studs carefully.

Inspect the cooling fans, clutch, and manual brake. Make sure if the winch has a rebuilt motor. Also, make sure if the winch has a reverse.

Short Summary

Here I’m giving a short summary of this article to make the process easy and clear.

  • Determine what you’re looking for.
  • Consider Types of the winch
  • Consider motor and gear types of winch
  • Check the winch capacity
  • Consider winch mounting options
  • Inspect the winch A To z
  • Inspect the painting of the winch
  • Check the winch rope for faying, tears, cuts or knots.
  • Check the fairlead
  • Inspect the winch controllers.
  • Take help of a jumper cable to make sure the winch works.
  • Inspect solenoid packs and wiring.
  • Check the cooling fans.

The good news for you is that I’ve already created an infographic which will provide you a better idea about those factors. Let’s enjoy the visuals.

used winch buying guide infographic

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Please include attribution to with this infographic.

Now you know what to consider while looking for a used winch, right?

You can save a bunch of money on a winch by following these guidelines. You need to use your hands, eyes and this guide to avoid being spiked in the mud.

I hope you have found my article very helpful. If you still need to know anything about the used winch, then inform us via the comment box below. You can also share this article if you’ve liked it. Your sharing will highly motivate us to write more guides like this.

I have also reviewed some top quality winches. If you have enough budget to buy a new one. Then you can read my reviews of winches from different brands:

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    16 thoughts on “Don’t Buy a Used Winch Before You Read This Guide”

    1. I’ve searched a long time for used winch buying guide. It was very hard to find a quality guide about this topic. Finally, I found your article. This guide has given me a clear idea about used winch. Thanks a lot for your helpful guide.

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