Tips For Safely Using A Winch

November 18, 2019

Next time you find yourself in a precarious situation while out four-wheeling, you will be glad you had the foresight to invest in a winch for your off road vehicle. Anyone that has spent time out on a trail is familiar with the hazards that can occur, especially when you are pushing your adventure to the extreme. Knowing how to correctly use your winch will save you from a scenario gone wrong.

Do's And Don't Of Using A Winch

Correctly Spooling The Cable

The first thing to know about your winch is that the cable is not ready to use "out of the box" when you purchase it. It needs to be completely unwound and re-spooled under a load before putting it into action on the trail. Failing to do this means the outer layers of cable will get pulled down into the lower layers. This can damage the cable and your winch. It can render your winch useless because the cable will not come off the drum. To make sure the cable is wound tightly and stacked correctly, from time to time it is advisable to re-spool it under a load.

Pulling With A Winch

There are two basic ways to use a winch - for static and kinetic pulls. The best way to use a winch is for static pulls, where the vehicle remains stationary, allowing the winch to slowly and carefully move it past the stuck point. The alternative kinetic pull involves unspooling the cable, and giving it a yank with the vehicle in reverse. This puts unreasonable stress on your winch's brake and drive train.

Winching From A Tree

One of the reasons to go off-roading is to spend time in nature, so it matters to respect the environment. For example, wrapping a winch cable around a tree can cause enough damage to kill it. Better to use a tow strap or "tree saver" to protect the tree. Select a large tree and drop the strap to the base of the trunk. Use a D-ring shackle through the two ends of the tree saver and to hook this up your winch cable. By the way, be sure to front load, rather than side load the D-ring shackle - this provides the greatest strength. Make sure your tree saver is positioned where it cannot slip.

Winching From A Rock

When you have no choice but to winch your stuck vehicle to a rock, use the same guidelines as with a tree. Use a tow strap or tree saver to prevent damage to your cable - sharp edges on rock can cut into the cable. Be extremely careful about placing the strap where it will not slip. Choose a very large rock or boulder that can withstand the force of moving your vehicle without sliding.

Weighting Your Cable

It is a really good idea to place something on your winch cable that will weigh it down while in use. For example, a heavy blanket or tool bag, if you do not have a specially designed cable weight. If the cable breaks, the weight will be more likely to pull it down, rather than snapping back against you or your vehicle.

Safety First

Most important of all is taking your time to set everything up to ensure safety. Take a few breaths, and do a complete assessment of the situation. Put your gloves on before you start handling the winch cable. Putting in some extra care rather than rushing is a good way to avoid a disaster.

winch wrangler

Professional Winch Installation

Being prepared for every type of weather and terrain in your 4-wheel-drive vehicle starts with having your winch professionally installed. At Carolina Custom Wheels, we can help you choose the model that is right for the horsepower of your vehicle and how you intend to use your winch. Contact us today to learn more about the winch that's best for your needs.

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