Do i really need a Winch? How do i choose the right winch to buy?

These two are very important questions if you love driving in enchanted territories ,going off road in South Africa`s great outdoors then yes you need a winch. Perhaps you heard your mates talking about a Winch or some one recently advised you to get a winch after you were stuck for hours in a deep mud pool. In this blog we will talk about all things Winch. Let`s get right into it. 

What is a winch?

There are many definitions to this question but the one that stood out to us during our research on everything to do with Electric Vehicle Winches was from Hoistnow  who said  an electric winch is a motorized device used for pulling or lifting. The typical auto winch is mounted to the vehicle’s front or reach bumper and consists of a steel cable that winds around a rotating horizontal drum with a hook attached to the free end of the cable. A motor that drives the electric winch is attached to the vehicles electrical system for power.


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Uses of An Electric Winch

Electric winches are a specialized device, and not something that comes standard on most vehicles. For commercial applications winches are probably most frequently found in towing applications, where an operator needs to use a winch to drag heavy equipment or another vehicle onto a tow bed or trailer. Other service vehicles used in the power, telecommunication, and landscaping industries also frequently are outfitted with a winch. Winches purchased by consumers are mainly used on off-road vehicles, although amateur farmers and loggers also can find a lot of uses for an electric winch.


Electric Winch Motors

All electric winches include motors that turn the drum that spools the cable. This motor is usually powered by direct current (DC) electricity provided by the vehicle’s electrical system. It operates like most other motors, with electrical current changes on opposite poles within the motor spinning a magnet that gives the motor power and turns the spool. Winches strong enough to pull a vehicle against resistance need to be heavy duty, which means they require a lot of current to operate. Because of that, many aftermarket electric winches require at least a special wiring harness, and in some cases electrical system upgrades to handle the load.


Winch Gear Trains

The rotary motion created by the motor operates a gear mechanism attached to the drum. There are several different types of gear mechanisms utilized in electric winches, but they all perform the same basic function. Operating much the same as gears on a bicycle, their job is to multiply a lesser force applied over a large distance into a strong force applied over a short distance. The mechanical advantage gained by the various gear train configurations is what allows a winch to exert the force necessary to drag a heavy 4×4 vehicle out of the mud.


Additional Applications

Electric winches are not limited to trucks and 4×4’s. The exploding ATV market has ratcheted up demand for winches, with a large array of lighter duty models selling briskly for use on four-wheelers and similar all-terrain vehicles. The boating industry also uses a lot of electric winches, as larger boats and motors make hand-crank trailer winches less practical.


Now that that`s clear… Lets talk about buying a winch. Below is a clear guide of factors to consider when buying a Winch from Offroaders.

The cost of a winch alone can vary. You have to factor in the costs of accessories and mounting options that go along with a winch. You may even have to consider upgrades to your vehicle such as a better battery and alternator of yours are marginal. Like a fire extinguisher, you hope you never need it but when you do need to winch out of a sticky situation, you don’t want to doubt the choices you made. So, it’s wise to educate yourself about the fundamentals of a winch so that you can buy the one that is best for your purpose. We hope this winch guide may help to explain the different types of winches and the components of a winch in order to help you make an educated decision with possibly one of the larger purchases for 4×4.

Major Considerations

How much Winch do you need?

Recommended winch capacity over vehicle weight. Typically manufacturers and resellers will suggest you should calculate the winch rating by taking the gross vehicle weight and multiplying it by 1.5 and that would be your minimum winch size. But this minimum rating is just that, a minimum. Certain factors can quickly cause your winch capacity to be exceeded so you need to think about your intended usage. Be aware that certain terrains and situations can put a much greater demand on a winch over the typical 1.5 multiplication rule of thumb. For instance a common cause for winching is mud. Mud however has an incredible suction force on a stuck vehicle and in many cases that 1.5 rule of thumb is far inadequate. Steep hills and frequent winching also put great demand on an electric winch. Understanding the purpose and safe use of winch accessories such as a snatch block can be invaluable when you need it most.


How Often and how hard will you probably use the winch?

This is an important factor in deciding what type of winch motor you will want to buy. Permanent magnet motors vs. series wound vs. Hydraulic winches. Each has an intended purpose. Light duty winching and a permanent magnet motor winch will do. More heavy and more frequent winching and you should consider a Series Wound winch. If you winch all day long, then consider a Hydraulic winch. We will cover all three types in the articles within this winch section.


What is your budget?

For many of us, it all comes down to available Rands and this is what is going to dictate what winch we are going to buy. This dollar amount will have to cover the winch, the accessories and possibly a new front bumper or mounting kit. You may even have to consider installation if you are not confident about installation.


Do you have any weight or dimensional limitations or requirements?

The weight of the winch can vary somewhat. If you’re primary consideration is to keep weight down, you may want to pay attention to those specifications. More important may be the dimensions of your winch. There are many aftermarket bumpers where the winch mounts internally. Therefore size may matter. Of the many different types of winches on the market, the sizes and dimensions can vary considerably.


Solenoid mounting can be a major consideration. Winches can either have an Integrated or Remote Solenoid pack. A remote solenoid is externally mounted off of the winch. An integrated solenoid is part of the winch either within a “bridge” over the cable or mounted elsewhere on the winch such as above the motor. There are benefits to both types of solenoid mounting options. With space restrictions a remote solenoid can reduce the space require to mount the winch itself while the solenoid can be mounted remotely while an integrated solenoid offers protection in a compact package.

Other considerations:


Read the manufacturer’s warranty as they vary widely in warranty coverage time from a few months to years as well as what the warranty covers.


What if it breaks? Can you find a service center that will fix it for you or can you order parts to fix it yourself? Some of the bargain winches are not such a bargain when you have to hunt down hard to find parts especially after the warranty period.

Necessary Upgrades

With almost any upgrade to a vehicle there are usually repercussions to changing something from stock to aftermarket, whether good or bad. With the addition of a winch, the demand on your electrical system can exceed the system’s capabilities itself. Consider upgrading your alternator to a high output alternator and be sure your car battery is up to the demand of winching. For more info on Battery Tech, See this.


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