Let’s face it, winches are not cheap. Buying a winch for your Jeep is a big decision. It can set you back hundreds of dollars to purchase even the cheapest ones. However, it is necessary, especially if you use your Jeep for off road trips.
There are a few things you have to keep in mind when buying a winch for your Jeep. For an in-depth winch buying guide, read this article. If you would prefer to buy a used, second hand winch, check this one. You have to consider the durability, protection from water, dust, sand and other elements, and you have to consider the size of the winch.
In the winching world lingo, the size of the winch refers to its strength, or pulling capacity. So when you say what winch size is best for a Jeep, it actually asks what is the best winch strength for a Jeep.
What winch size for Jeeps is the best? That is the topic of discussion in this article.
At a Glance
The 1.5X Rule and the GVWR
Among off road enthusiasts, there is a common rule of thumb regarding winch size. You should get a winch that has a pulling capacity that is 1.5X that of the gross weight of your vehicle. Every vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating. This is the estimated weight of the vehicle if loaded as estimated by the manufacturer.
You can find the GVWR on either the dorrjamb of your Jeep, in the owner’s manual, or on a sticker under the hood of the Jeep.
The winch you buy should have a rated pulling capacity of at least 1.5X that of the GVWR of your Jeep for a few reasons. For one, the more powerful your winch is, the better, generally. This will give you more room for an easier pull. Second, there may be times that your Jeep is stuck somewhere it “becomes” heavier, like on a slope or in mud (which makes a vehicle seem heavier).
Another reason why you should get a winch that can pull more weight than the weight of your Jeep is because the rated line pull of a winch is not always reliable.
Why Rated Line Pull is NOT Always Reliable
The rated line pulls of a winch is determined by the manufacturers. And they get that number by testing the winch in the most agreeable circumstances. In simple words, the rated line pull of a winch is only achievable in a perfect world.
When manufacturers test their winches to get the rated line pull, winches usually are in these conditions:
- Straight Pull
- Perfect Power
- Single Wrap of Cable on the Drum
When a winch is used in a perfectly straight pull, it is a lot stronger. This is why it is always advisable to get your winching pulls as straight as possible. The thing is, you can’t always make a perfectly straight pull every time you get stuck in the wild.
When your pull is not straight, your winch is losing some of its power. This is another reason why it is better to get a winch that can pull a lot more than the GVWR of your vehicle.
Another condition in which the rated line pull of a winch is obtained is that the winch receives optimum power. This just does not mean a perfect wiring and a good battery, it also means a stable alternator.
The alternator switches the battery when it can’t produce sufficient juice for your winch. If you have a bad alternator, you may not have enough power to make the winch perform at its best.
To have optimum pulls, the battey to which the winch is connected should be in perfect condition. It should have enough charge. It should not be corroded, rusty, or showing any signs of damage whatsoever.
Another important point is to make sure that the wiring of your winch is impeccable. Make sure that there are no damages to the cables. Make sure every connection is secure. Ensure that all terminals are squeaky clean.
Single Wrap of Cable
Winches are at their most powerful when there is only one layer of cable wrapped around the winch drum. This is not always the case in the real world when you get stuck in a ditch, swamp or wherever else.
Scientifically, you are losing about 10% of the power of the winch for every wrap you have on your drum above one wrap. This means that if you have five layers of cable on your winch drum, it can only pull a weight which is 60% of its rated line pull. If you are using a 15000 lb winch, you will only be able to pull 9000 lbs. This is yet another reason why you should get a winch that can pull a lot more than the gross weight of your Jeep.
To remedy the problem of the single wrap, try to find an anchor point as far away from the winch as it can possibly reach. This will optimize the power you can get from the winch.
What Size Winch for Jeep
Whenever the question of what is the best size of a winch is best for a certain type of vehicle rises, it is generally good to assume that more power is better. This does not mean that you should get a winch with a rated line pull of 25000 lbs for your Jeep. Go for a higher rated line pull, yes, but keep it within reason.
For Jeeps, 8000 lb winches or bigger are good options. Just keep the thumb rule in mind, get a winch that can pull 1.5X the weight of your Jeep.
Do you have any questions? Are there other reasons why buying a stronger winch is reasonable? What are your thoughts on this matter? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!