Fitting a winch to your overland vehicle requires some careful consideration, says Gary Swemmer. Here is what you should look out for when selecting a winch and having it fitted to your 4×4.
The first thing you need to consider when buying and fitting a winch is what sort of weight the winch should be capable of pulling. This will, of course, depend on the total weight of your overland vehicle if you plan on using the winch as a recovery tool. On the other hand, if you plan to use it to pull your boat, you’ll need to find out exactly what sort of strain the cable will be under during the process.
Another thing you’ll have to consider is whether to opt for a cable or a synthetic-rope winch. A synthetic rope is easier to handle, but it doesn’t work well in a rocky environment where the rope can be damaged, so if you’ll be using it for recovery, a winch with a steel cable is probably the best option. But for work with a boat, especially at the coast, the synthetic rope is perfect, since it will not rust.
When your winch is being fitted, make sure that your fitment centre uses a proper winch plate, and that it has been correctly mounted. If it has just been quickly welded to your vehicle, it won’t be able to withstand the pressure it will be placed under. The last thing you want is the winch plate tearing into your 4×4’s chassis.
The winch plate should also be powder-coated, otherwise mud or seawater will cause it to rust, and since it is mounted behind the front bumper, you won’t be able to clean it.
Most people who decide to fit a winch probably own a 4×4 with a ladder-frame chassis. More and more new vehicles are being made with a monocoque chassis, which could present a problem when fitting a winch. It doesn’t mean that a vehicle with a monocoque chassis can’t take a winch, but care needs to be taken when fitting one.
You need to ensure that your fitment centre wraps the wiring of your winch in sleeving when installing it, otherwise the wires can be damaged. You don’t want to find that your winch isn’t working because of an electrical problem when you are desperately in need of recovery. And always test your winch before you set off on an overland trip. It is also a good idea to have your winch serviced once in a while.
Lastly, buy a recovery kit as soon as you have your winch installed, since it’s not a good idea to use the winch without items such as shackles, snatch blocks, tree-trunk protectors and gloves. A winch can be a very dangerous item, so be careful when using one!