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Winching For Beginners

Winching For Beginners

Power Winches - Do You Need One?

Selecting recovery equipment for your vehicle is a bit like selecting a 4WD. First, you need to examine where, when and what you are going to be doing - then select the most suitable equipment.

Here are some quick tips:

Firstly - Practice! using your winch before you get stuck. A real situation is no time to be learning how to use your winch.

Remote Control Control Of Your Winch! The winch is controlled by the hand held remote control to allow the operator to stand clear while controlling the winching process. The remote control provides control of the forward or reverse rotation of the spooling drum. The hand held remote control to allows the operator to stand clear during the winching process.

Use a Dampener! Before tensioning the rope or cable, attach at least one damper to the line. There are two possible hazards: either the cable snaps and acts like a giant whip, or a hook or bow shackle fails. Best practice is to attach a damper over the middle third of your cable run. This will help arrest flying objects should anything snap.

Your winch can operate at high amperage loads, and, for this reason, the control box uses a high amperage control system to safely handle the current flow. It is important to understand that the longer the pull, the more the amperage draw. This creates heat, just like a hot plate, and prolonged winching without cooling the motor will damage the motor.

Also, if the engine is idling during winching, the battery may drain faster than it is charging. So pay close attention to your amperage gauge to make sure you aren’t draining your battery too low to start your vehicle.

Don't Overload it

Exceeding the winch capacity could cause the winch to fail or the wire rope to break. Thinking through how you intend to use your winch now, could save you a big headache later. In addition, you’ll also want to make sure that your winch’s mounting system and your vehicle’s frame can accommodate the rated load of your winch. So analyze your situation. Use your judgement to calculate how much weight you intend to pull.

The Basics In this section, we’ll show you the basic fundamentals for effective winching. However, it is up to you to analyze the situation and make the decisions necessary for the proper use of your winch. Apply your knowledge of your winch and the basic fundamentals you’ve practiced and adjust your techniques to your unique situation. Some keys to remember when using your Warn winch:

  1. Always take your time to assess your situation and plan your pull carefully.
  2. Always take your time when using a winch.
  3. Use the right equipment for your situation.
  4. Always wear leather gloves and do not allow the wire rope to slide through your hands.
  5. You and only you should handle the wire rope and operate the remote control switch.
  6. Think safety at all times.
  7. Practice, practice and practice the steps.


A secure anchor is critical to winching operations. An anchor must be strong enough to hold while winching. Natural anchors include trees, stumps, and rocks. Hook the cable as low as possible. If no natural anchors are available, when recovering another vehicle, your vehicle becomes the anchor point. In this case, be sure to put the transmission in neutral, apply the hand brake and block its wheels to prevent your vehicle from moving. Ideally, you’ll want an anchor point that will enable you to pull straight in the direction the vehicle will move. This allows the wire rope to wind tightly and evenly onto the spooling drum. An anchor point as far away as possible will provide the winch with its greatest pulling power.

Winch Accessories You’ll Want To Have With You:

Clevis/D-Shackles The D-Shackle is a safe means for connecting the looped ends of cables, straps and snatch blocks. The shackle’s pin is threaded to allow easy removal.

Gloves Wire rope, through use, will develop “barbs” which can slice skin. It is extremely important to wear protective gloves while operating the winch or handling the wire rope. Avoid loose fitting clothes or anything that could become entangled in the wire rope and other moving parts.

Hook Strap Use to hold the hook and keep fingers away from the fairlead as the wire rope is being spooled in. Winches develop tremendous pulling forces and can easily remove fingers and limbs that are placed in pinch points. Put the hook into the loop and hold the strap between the thumb and forefingers.

Snatch Block Used properly, the multipurpose snatch block allows you to:

(1) increase your winch’s pulling power; and (2) change your pulling direction without damaging the wire rope. Proper use of the snatch block is covered in “Before You Pull”.

Choker Chain Can be used to hook-up to another vehicle or sharp objects for an anchor point. Chains, however, will damage or kill trees.

Tow Hooks Secured properly to your vehicle’s frame, tow hooks provide an attachment point for wire hooks, straps, and chains.

Tree Trunk Protector Typically made of tough, high-quality nylon, it provides the operator an attachment point for the winch rope to a wide variety of anchor points and objects, as well as protect living trees.

Shovels & Hand Tools Quite often during winching activities, you’ll find yourself in need of some additional help. You may want to stow equipment such as a shovel, an axe, and a Hi-Lift jack near the winch to provide quick access to additional assistance when needed.

Backup Parts Important backup parts to carry for backcountry travel should include an extra screw-pin shackle, snatch block, and remote control unit. For severe and continued winch use, consider including an extra wire rope and winch hook.

Toolbox Items Items to bring along include hand wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, and a pair of quality wire cutters to repair frayed or damaged wire rope. For light electrical work, also include automotive electrical wire and connectors, electrical tape, duct tape, mechanic’s wire, a crimping tool and an extra solenoid.

Booster Cables Many roadside emergencies stem from a dead battery. To prevent exhausting your electrical source, you can install a dual battery system and a battery isolator kit. Also, it’s wise to include battery booster cables and the Warn quick-connect cable system.

Battery Recommendations A fully charged conventional automotive battery with a minimum rating of 650 cold cranking amps is recommended to obtain peak performance from your winch. Make sure all electrical connections are clean and tight.

CAUTION Recovery Straps Never use a recovery strap in a winching operation. Because it is designed to stretch, it stores energy and could react like a rubber band should your rigging fail. Use the recovery strap to “snatch” out a stuck vehicle

Please note he information above is general in nature. Because no two situations are alike, it would be nearly impossible to review them all.