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

When deciding on which size winch to invest in, there goes a lot of consideration in the winch features 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 will employ your winch, in what conditions, and for how long.

The Basics for Selecting a Winch

An ideal starting point to decide which type of winch you will need is the GVW or the Gross Vehicle Weight.

The Gross Weight will include all the extra furnishings and occupants and accessories weight and 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 a tag of sorts.

Gross Vehicle_Weight_Rating_GVWR

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 compared to your vehicle’s weight. Too much winch has never been a problem under any circumstance.

Here we have listed the winch size guide for selecting an appropriate winch to benefit from your winch purpose.

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

Suitable for people 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; 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). The vehicle’s weight 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

Ensure the winch that you are going to purchase will properly fit inside your vehicle. Look for the winch dimensions and your appropriate fitting size. We recommend getting the biggest capacity winch that fits.

Our Suggested Winch:

2500 Lbs: Badland 2500 lb. Electric ATV/Utility Winch
3000 Lbs: Champion 3000-lb. ATV/UTV Winch
4000 Lbs: WARN 94000 4000 DC Series 12V Electric, Winch
4500 Lbs: Champion 4500-lb. ATV/UTV Winch

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 for UTV:

Selecting a winch size is determined by the purpose of utilizing it.

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. A winch with a minimum of 4000 to 4500 Lbs is recommended.

Champion 4500-lb. ATV/UTV Winch comes with a 50ft wireless remote, 1.6 horsepower, 38 ft. super duty aircraft cable, and 2 years limited warranty. Have more than 250 five-star ratings on Amazon from UTV enthusiasts.

If you are using it to lift a plow during winter and not for heavy-duty – Choose a winch with a capacity of 2500 to 3500 Lbs.

Champion 3000-lb. ATV/UTV Winch comes with a 1.3-horsepower, 49 ft. super duty aircraft cable, and 2 years limited warranty. Have more than 500 five-star ratings on Amazon from UTV enthusiasts.

If you are moving, rolling weight – a wheeled load that will not move by its own power – determines the rolling weight when selecting your winch (Refer to the Trailer Winch). A lower-rated winch capacity is more suitable for it.

Winch Buying Guide

Steel Cable or Synthetic Rope: Steel cable is very durable in nature, they are lower side on cost, and capable of tackling heavy loads for a long duration. Needs less maintenance.

Synthetic rope is four times lightweight than steel, they are upper side on cost, and safer than steel cable If it were to break under load. Ease of spooling and in-field repair.

The Reeling Capacity: A way to consider winch compatibility is to consider the winch’s drum capacity. 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 means that if your winch has more cable-layers 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 situated far away to reduce cable-layers’ drum numbers. Although, ensure you have a minimum of 5 wraps around the drum to stay in the pulling power zone, or the drum’s overall tension 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 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, producing 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.

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

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 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, and 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 if a sudden power cut to the winch.

Mounting Location: 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 size is a tough choice to make, so ensure you invest enough time and effort in deciding what size necessitates your winching needs.

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