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What Size Winch Do I Need? For Jeep, Trailer, ATV & UTV

When deciding on which winch to invest in, there goes a lot of consideration in the features of the winch and its affordability. After all, they come in power ranges suited to pull loads from 1,500 to 15,000 pounds with high efficiency.

Winches are not ideal machines, they have their compromises and points. You will have to think about how you are going to employ your winch, in what conditions and for how long.

The Basics for Selecting a Winch

An ideal starting point to decide on which type of winch you will need is the GVW or the Gross Vehicle Weight. This Gross Weight will include all the extra furnishings and occupants and accessories weight along with the Gross Weight of the vehicle. The GVW is decided by the manufacturer and is usually present on the edge of the driver’s door, engraved on to a tag of sorts.

Add 30% to the overall working GVW to decide how much winch is adequate for your rig. Better yet, get a winch that holds a good and full 50% extra pulling power when compared to the weight of your vehicle. Too much winch has never been a problem, under any circumstance.

Here we have listed down the winch size guide for selecting a proper winch to get the most from your winch purpose.

Winch Size For a Jeep, Car, 4Runner & Truck: 

Suitable for people who are looking for: Winch Size For Truck, Winch Size For Jeep like Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, Winch Size For SUV etc.

Select a winch with a capacity of 1 1/2 times the Gross Vehicle Weight.

Say your vehicle’s GVW is around 7,000 pounds. Which means you have to go for a winch that provides 10,000 to 12,500 pounds of work-load capacity.

Winch Size For a Trailer,

Suitable for people who are looking for: Winch Size for Car Trailer

Calculate the Rolling Weight to determine the winch you need;

  1. Determine Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). This is the weight of the vehicle alone (curb weight), plus the weight of any items in and on the vehicle.
  2. How steep is the slope or ramp? Divide the height of the ramp by the length to determine the Grade.

Choosing a trailer winch

Winch Size For ATV:

Vehicle Weight Range (lbs) Suggested Winch (lbs)
Less than 350cc 400 – 500 2000
350cc – 500cc 500 – 700 2500
Greater than 500cc 700 – 900 3000
UTV / Side-by-Side 700 – 1000 4000

Winch Size For UTV (Utility) and Multi Winch:

Most winches can be used to pull different types of loads in a variety of situations. To help ensure your safety and get the most from your purchase, follow these guidelines for choosing the proper winch:

  1. If you are moving dead weight – a load without wheels or operable wheels (a vehicle stuck in the mud, for example) – Choose a winch with a capacity of 1 1/2 times the Gross Vehicle Weight.
  2. If you are moving Rolling Weight – a wheeled load that will not move by its own power – determine the rolling weight when selecting your winch (Refer the Trailer Winch)

The Reeling Capacity

Another way to consider winch compatibility is to consider the Drum capacity of the winch. Keep these pointers in mind when purchasing a winch.

Winch Power Pulling Percentage

Winches are supposedly rated good or weak with a single layer of cable wrap on the drum. This implies that the most power a winch can dole out is when it has a single wrap, working at maximum strength. This also implies that if your winch has more layers of cable on it, the working or pulling power gets considerably weakened.

Winch Wraps Around The Drum

Whenever you require the winching services, make sure you use winch anchors that are situated far away, to reduce the number of cable-layers on the drum. Although, ensure you have a minimum of 5 wraps around the drum to stay in the pulling power zone or the overall tension on the drum may end up damaging it.

A Winch is only as efficient as its Source

It does not matter how powerful your winching unit may be or what productive features it comes with. The winch runs on the Vehicle Battery and requires specific Amperes to be at its optimum best. Essentially, your winch will only be as streamlined as the Car battery allows it to be.

You will not be able to make the most out of your powerful winch if you source it with an underrated battery. The same goes for the electrical connections through undersized or oversized cables and adulterated power flow due to corroded connections.

You have to regularly check the wiring for corrosion or rusting and ensure pristine connectivity to the respective battery terminals.

⚠️ Corrosion on electrical components can lead to poor performance or may cause a short

Cable Redirectioning Reduces Power

You will not always find yourself in situations where your winch anchor is plum opposite to your stuck vehicle. Sometimes you will have to winch sideways to help your vehicle out of the mud pit. In such cases, the Fairlead comes to the rescue.

Keep the rope feeding through the fairlead as straight as possible.

In tight situations, you use a Snatch Block to change the direction of the winch pull and amplify the base power of the winch. Although, using these accessories certainly leads to a reduction in the pulling power due to friction and resistance.

Use a pulley block and double the capacity of your winch.

Looking at the whole picture, you get the convenience of winching at an overall 10% loss of efficiency. Which is very much within ideal winching conditions that will help you out of your rut.

Winch Motor and Gear Designs

Based on the type of motor and gears available, there are two basic winch designs, the Worm and Gear Winches and the Planetary Gear Winches. Each of them has its own general pros and cons.

The Worm and Gear winches are bulky gear designs that provide a longer shelf-life, more surface area for metal to bear internal workloads as well as the inherent load-reversing protection.

The Planetary Gear winches are compact in size and very efficient in performance. They incorporate the internal brake system that safely holds any load in case of a sudden power cut to the winch.

Another thing to keep in mind would be the Mounting location for your winch. If you are taking your off-roading adventures to a wet trail, make sure your winch is kept far enough from the ground level.

Picking out the right winch is a tough choice to make, so ensure you invest enough time and effort in deciding what size winch you need for your winching needs.

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