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How to Mount/Install a Winch on a Trailer

Trailers usually mount their winches at the rear side of the vehicle, which is to say, that the winch sits on the back of the trailer, either close to the rear of the front vehicle or at the end of the trailer itself.

Since the trailer can be disconnected from the primary vehicle, winches are given a separate battery connection to keep them going. They do not have to rely on the Vehicle battery to extract power for operations.

With its additional Battery, straps, and cables, the entire Winch is placed in protective boxes called toolbox fitted to the rear end of the trailer.

Mounting the Winch on the Trailer

Here are some of the best mounting ideas on the trailer. Before mounting a winch, follow the safety precautions to avoid any injury to yourself and equipment mishandling.

On Car, Utility, Snowmobile & Flatbed Trailer:

Option 1: If your trailer has a railing, the best way to mount a winch on the trailer is on the railing with the receiver hitch mount like the image shown below.

Car Trailer Winch Hitch Mount

Option 2: You can mount on the floor bed of your trailer using a winch mounting plate. Use U bolts to attach through the floor bed to the trailer frame.

If you want the winch to be removable, use a hitch-mounted winch plate with a handle and mount a 2-inch hitch Combo Bar to the trailer.

If the winch is not in the middle, you can use a pulley block with D-Ring attached to the center for your pulling applications.

If your trailer has only a wooden bed, use your trailer’s railing for mounting the winch.

On Enclosed Trailer:

Option 1: You can mount on the floor inside the cabinet and attach the winch using a bracket to the floor. Your winch must be 6 inches above the floor to avoid cable dragging. This way, you can keep the winch out of the way in the trailer.

Option 2: Using a ready-made in-floor winch mount, you can attach the winch under your trailer. Cut the floor according to the size of the winch mount and place your winch inside and tighten them with a bolt. Then attach the Fairlead to the Fairlead holder. Please read the installation instructions before buying it.

Option 3: You can mount on the trailer’s tongue inside a trailer tongue box and attach it to the trailer frame or use mounting brackets welded to your trailer to support the winch.

If your winch is not in the middle, you can use a pulley block with D-Ring attached to the center for your pulling applications.

On Tilt Deck Trailer:

Attach a winch plate mount with a hitch combo bar to the trailer.  Use a 2″ Trailer Hitch Tow Ball mounted to the winch.

 

On Gooseneck Trailer:

Weld a custom winch mount to the low deck of the trailer to place your winch. Attach a D-Ring to use the snatch block to lift heavy objects and operate at different angles.

Watch this video for more details.

Winching on different types of Trailers, the best way to mount would be in the truck’s rear bumper. You can use it with most of the trailers. You can hook the winch to a snatch block and pull from a high point on a gooseneck trailer; you can use it without a trailer without needing power on the truck.

Winching on different Vehicle types, the best way to mounting the winch on a receiver hitch then weld a receiver to the trailer. Using this method, you would remove the winch and use it on any vehicle with a receiver. In an emergency, this will be a lifesaver.

Depending on where you mount your winch, there can be two general ways to power/wire the winch on your trailer.

How to Wire a Winch on a Trailer

Wiring it to the Vehicle Power Source

In this method, you use a quick disconnect to connect your vehicle’s power source to the trailer-mounted winch. This method is ideal for Light and Medium-duty use daily. Ensure you have a bare minimum of 440 cold-cranking amps in the vehicle battery as well as a 60 A alternator.

⚠️ Always wear eye-protective glasses for your safety when working around a battery.

  • Pick out a convenient spot at the rear end of your vehicle to attach the quick disconnect. This disconnector comes with two wires, a longer power cord, and a shorter ground cord.
  • Ensure you ground the shorter cord to a clean metal surface on the vehicle’s frame, or if you have a grounding source, then that works just as well.
  • Route the longer power cord from the back of the vehicle towards the front to the vehicle battery, avoiding any areas where the cable may heat or pinched due to other vehicular components’ working.
  • Under the vehicle’s hood, connect the power cord to the positive terminal on the car battery and ground the battery by connecting a separate wire from the negative terminal to a safe grounding source.
  • Ensure you install the In-line circuit breaker with the winch’s power cord that connects to the vehicle battery.
  • Wire up the winch according to the instructions manual and at the end of the two wires that come from the positive and negative posts on the winch, install a disconnector. Route this disconnector to the trailer’s coupler, where it will connect with the disconnector from the rear-end of your vehicle.

Video Instructions On Powering a Winch Using Vehicle Battery

Wiring it to a Separate Trailer Mounted Battery

In this method, the winch will not have to rely on the Vehicle battery to function. A separate battery acts as the power source, and the trailer can be disconnected from the primary vehicle and still use the winch when needed. However, it would be best if you still had a common way to keep your separate battery recharged. You can hook up the trailer connector circuit to the vehicle battery to ensure a periodic charge to the separate battery with some additional wiring.

⚠️ Make sure the battery is in good condition before connecting the winch. Avoid contact with battery acid and other contaminants.

  • It is recommended to mount the Battery and the Winch with its connections in a toolbox to protect it from the elements, thereby prolonging all components’ shelf-life.
  • Attaching the toolbox to the trailer/truck may come with a lot of drilling and sawing to align all components in place before fixing them.
  • Wire up the winch to the battery as you would do with the car battery.

Example of Wiring For Smittybilt WinchesWinch Wiring to Battery Diagram - Smittybilt Winches

  • Follow the instructions from the manual and ensure to install the In-line circuit breaker for overload protection.
  • When operating the winch, remember to unhook the trailer’s electrical connections from the primary vehicle connections. This connection is only meant for recharging the separate trailer battery.
  • If the connection is left open during operations, it will overload the wire carrying current to your trailer battery and damage the entire circuit with the battery.

Video Instructions On Powering a Winch Using Separate Battery

Alternatively, you can install a 12v solar battery charger on top of the toolbox to power up the winch and other equipment.

Make sure you do not put extra loads on your winches beyond their weight capacity. With some extra care for the Auxiliary battery and all winch connections, you can rest assured of efficiency in all winching operations in the long-run.

Read: How To Properly Use a Winch?

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