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Choosing the right winch

Choosing the right winch

When you’re getting ready to tackle some tough tracks, having a winch is a good form of insurance to make sure you can get your rig home safely. Deciding to install a winch is only the first step, next you’ll need to decide which winch is best for your setup. We’ve made a list of some of the things to consider when choosing the perfect winch for your next 4WD trip.

All 4 Adventure's Jase Andrews unwinding his winch cable to recover his vehicle from a water crossing.

Choosing the right capacity


Winches are expensive, there’s no two ways around it, and if you’re lucky you’ll never actually have to use it which can make spending the money feel a bit pointless. Though when it comes down to it, having a winch is a fairly inexpensive insurance policy compared to losing your rig altogether.

The most important thing to consider when choosing your new winch is the gross vehicle mass (GVM). The GVM is the maximum amount your vehicle can legally weigh when fully loaded. This number is set by the manufacturer. You’ll also want to consider whether you’re planning to tow while on the tracks as your winch capacity will need to accommodate for this extra weight as well.

Now that you know your GVM (plus trailer weight if needed), you can find a suitably rated winch. When choosing your winch, bigger is always better. If you’re in doubt or in-between two different ratings, always go for the bigger option because at the end of the day having more pulling power to get you out of trouble is going to make life a lot easier.

Using a winch to recover a 4WD from a muddy track.

Does winch speed matter?


That’s really up to you. If you want to get yourself unstuck quickly, choose a winch rated for more weight than you’ll need. The smaller your load in comparison to the winch capacity, the faster it will pull and spool in. You’ll also be putting less stress on the winch.

Pulling a 4WD over a rocky track with a winch.

Consider your front end


While winches might not be that big, they are heavy and will generally add between 25 and 45kgs to your bumper, depending on whether you choose synthetic rope or steel cable. Synthetic rope is lighter and perfect for weight sensitive setups, it’s highly flexible but can be prone to fraying, chemical and heat damage.

If you’re wanting a stronger solution, steel cable is more durable and generally cheaper, though you will be adding considerably more weight to your setup. Steel cable requires less maintenance but can be prone to rust and burrs, decreasing its strength.

You’ll want to make sure that your front bumper is secured and that adding the winch isn’t going to put too much strain on your suspension as this can impact the handling and longevity of your vehicle.

The Explore Life using a winch to get their vehicle to safety

Powering your winch


Winches require a bit of power to keep them going, so it’s recommended to wire them up to a secondary battery to avoid pulling yourself out of a hole only to have your start battery go flat. Using REDARC’s dual battery winch kit and a dual battery setup under the hood you can ensure optimum performance of your winch, providing it with enough power to get you out of any situation.

Using REDARC’s BCDC in-vehicle battery charger and SmartStart battery isolator, you can link the start battery and auxiliary battery which boosts the 12V power available for the winch to use, in turn, increasing overall winch performance.

REDARC's Dual battery winch kit wiring diagram

For more information on deciding which winch is best for you, check out our do you really need a winch blog. Learn more about our Dual Battery Winch Kit for powering your next winch install. ARB have all the tips for using your winch safely and having everything ready to go on the tracks. 

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