8 Great Winch Tips Every Off-Roader Should Know - Toyota Parts Blog

When it comes to off-road recovery, winches are pretty important. When recovery straps aren’t enough to jerk your rig out of trouble, it’s time to bust out the Warn and get to work.

If you’re new to off-roading and/or winch recovery, here are eight simple tips that will help you get the most out of your winch.

Winching tips

8 winching tips every off-roader should know. Image courtesy Warn.com.

1 ) Battery power is really important. If your vehicle has a winch, you want to invest in the largest battery that you can fit into your rig with the most CCA (cold cranking amps) available. CCA ratings are a quick and dirty way to assess battery power, with higher power being more desirable.

When you select a battery, you also want to pay attention to the MRC rating, which stands for “minute reserve capacity.” Higher MRC ratings mean that your battery can power the winch for longer periods of time before the battery dies or the performance of the winch begins to fall off.

Finally, take a minute to calculate the durability of your battery using this formula:

Time Duration of Pull = (A/W) x T

where:

A = Reserve capacity amperage rating (typically this is 25 amps)

W = Winch amp draw at rated pull

T = Reserve capacity time (in minutes) of your battery

Obviously, higher time duration is better when you’re stuck and all alone.

2 ) Test your alternator. Your alternator’s job is to charge your battery, and you need the battery to operate at peak efficiency. So, an alternator test is a good idea, especially if your vehicle has a few miles on it.

If your alternator needs rewound or replaced, consider upgrading to a new alternator with a higher amperage rating.

3 ) Power cables matter too. Believe it or not, battery cables are very important to optimal winch performance. Use number 00 welding cables for ground and positive cables, and use the shortest run of cable possible from the battery to the winch. Finally, do not ground the cable to the vehicle’s frame or bumper, as this will often increase the resistance the battery has to work against. Finally, ensure all electrical connections are secure.

4 ) Longer pulls are better. The pulling power of most winches increases as the amount of rope on the drum decreases. Therefore, putting the most distance you can between your vehicle and the hook will increase the pulling power of your winch.

5 ) Long, sustained pulls are bad. If you want your winch and battery to last, avoid pulling for more than 1-2 minutes at a time. Long pulls cause heat to build up in your winch motor, and if this heat isn’t allowed to dissipate, it will damage the motor and reduce performance.

Additionally, when you’re winching the battery in your vehicle likely discharges faster than your alternator can charge it. If you take a break every minute or two, you’ll reduce the load on the battery and keep the charge up.

6 ) Break-in new rope. Breaking in a new rope is wise, mostly because you don’t want to find out that it’s defective in the field. However, it’s also smart to pre-stretch a rope before use so it doesn’t form a weak spot during your first recovery.

In order to do this, you must pre-stretch the rope uniformly. Just unwind all but the last few warps of rope, hook the end of the rope to a stationary object, and then slowly but surely pull your vehicle towards the hook. While pulling, apply moderate brake pressure – you’re not trying to make the winch work so much as you’re trying to give the rope a good uniform pull along it’s entire length.

7 ) Re-spool it right. Whenever you use your winch, take the time to re-spool it properly. Hap-hazard spooling is bad, mostly because it results in kinks and weak spots in your rope.

8 ) Check your battery often. Believe it or not, running your battery down just one time can result in permanent damage. Therefore, it’s a good idea to test your battery regularly.

If you follow these eight tips, you’ll get maximum life and performance from your winch, and you’ll be able to rely upon your winch when you really need it.

Author Jason Lancaster is the founder a WinchBin.com, a website that offers winch reviews, recovery advice, and more.

Written by Jason Lancaster