Installing a truck winch seems like a daunting task. And that’s for a good reason: if it’s installed incorrectly, you could seriously damage your winch or your truck. Nobody wants that to happen. So how do you install a truck winch?
First, a mounting plate has to be purchased for and mounted onto the truck. After this, there are 4 different configurations in which winches can be mounted to the truck. When one is chosen, and the winch has been mounted, it must be connected to the truck’s battery.
In this article, we’ll not only teach you the basics of how to install a truck winch, but we’ll also review what a winch is, go through the best places to install it, and learn more about choosing and mounting a winch, both by yourself and professionally.
What is a Winch and How Does it Work?
Yes, we know you know what a winch is. But let’s review, just in case you’re not quite sure.
A winch is a device used for hauling or hoisting objects. It has 4 parts: the rope, the drum, the motor, and the geartrain. The rope can either be made of synthetic rope, steel cable, or even chains. Usually, the rope is 9-36 meters in length, but you’d never be able to tell because the rope is wrapped nicely around the drum.
- The drum is a horizontal cylinder in the center of the winch.
- It keeps the rope wrapped neatly and prevents entanglement, which can cause problems with your winch and/or the rope in the future.
- The drum spins when winding the wire in and out.
- The motor powers the winch.
- Usually, these can either be electric or hydraulic, but there are also manual winches.
- If you opt for this type, remember that these take a much longer time to operate, because you’re doing everything by hand.
The gear casing and gear train convert the power taken from the motor into a pulling motion. This is how a winch works to pull you or your friend out of one of those inevitable sticky situations. Winches can also help your truck become more capable while off-roading.
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How to Mount a Winch on Your Truck
When you’ve gotten your winch, it’s time to install it. And don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it seems. If you follow these simple steps, you’ll be able to mount your winch fairly easily.
Before starting the process of mounting your winch, you must make sure to stay safe! To be as safe as possible while mounting your winch, make sure the area you’re working in is clean. If there are things in the way, you may damage them, or hurt yourself.
- Next, make sure you wear gloves.
- Handling the winch without gloves is dangerous.
- You could scratch up or smash your hands if they slip.
- It’s a lot harder for your hands to slip if you’re wearing gloves.
Finally, do not wear loose clothing. It could get caught on a tool, the winch, or something else, and cause you or something/someone you’re working with to get hurt.
Choose A Mount Plate
Trucks don’t usually come with a built-in mounting plate, but you need one to mount your winch on. Choose one that is designed for your vehicle, and make sure that it has a rating that can withstand the pulling rating of the winch you’re going to install.
Additionally, make sure the mount plate’s size is compatible to your truck.
Mount the Mounting Plate
Align the winch perpendicular to the centerline of the vehicle at the desired location, and mark the location of the winch’s base holes. Then, get your mount plate and install it in those marked spots by bolting it securely. Before bolting it down, make sure there aren’t any electrical wires in the way.
Mount the Winch
Mount the winch onto the mounting plate by securing it with bolts. It should be mounted into a suitable steel mounting frame using one of 4 different mounting configurations available. These four configurations are
- foot down
- foot forward
- foot down or foot forward
- foot forward and foot down
In the foot-down configuration, the winch’s four mounting holes are at the bottom.
In the foot forward configuration, the winch’s four mounting holes are facing forward.
In the foot down or foot forward configuration, the winch can be mounted in either foot down or foot forward position.
In the foot forward and foot down configuration, the winch has four bolts for foot forward mounting, and two are used in the foot down position. In this configuration, the winch can’t only be mounted in the foot down position.
Connect the Winch to Your Truck’s Battery
I have an entire article about How To Wire A Winch Here, but here’s the quick version:
This step should always be done last because it’s unsafe to have the winch fully connected during the installation process. To connect the winch to your car’s battery, follow these steps.
- Connect the positive wire (usually red) to the positive post on the winch.
- Connect the negative wire (usually black) to the ground post on the winch.
- Move both wires from the front into the engine section.
- Keep the wires out of any significant heat sources or any place that the wiring can rub or get pinched.
- Connect the positive wire from the winch to the positive post on the battery (most winches include an in-line fuse).
- Connect the negative wire from the winch to the negative ground post on the battery.
After this is done, your winch should work. Test the winch by turning it on with the remote control that was included when you bought it.
Make sure your truck is running when you do so, though, because you don’t want to drain the truck’s battery too much while it’s not running, or else you may have problems with it starting later.
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Best Places to Mount a Winch
The best places to mount a winch are pretty simple, either the front of your vehicle or the back. If you have a trailer, right up towards the trailer hitch where it connects to your vehicle is best.
There is a type of mount and winch that can be moved between the front and the back of the vehicle, so having that versatility might be beneficial especially when you might not be able to use the forward facing mount to winch yourself out of a tough spot.
This will also depend on the type of vehicle you drive and where you go off-roading or places that might end up needing that tool and help to recover your vehicle. If you had to only choose one, the front would most likely be your best option.
It’s close to where the winch gets power from, you can see what’s going on from inside your vehicle without being outside the vehicle if your winch has a longer remote, and if you’re not the one who ends up in a ditch, it’s easy to pull up behind and help pull them out.
All in all, if you aren’t sure which would be better for you, you can have both with a removable winch and mounting plates on both sides of the vehicle so as to increase that versatility and ability to use the winch.
How Much Does It Cost To Get A Winch Mounted
Mounting a winch can seem like a daunting task especially if you’re afraid of doing it wrong or are unsure of what you are doing. It might seem simpler and more efficient to hand off to someone who has done mounting before and will be able to get it securely so you know without a doubt that it was done correctly, an assurance you might not have mounting a winch by yourself.
The winch itself is already going to cost a pretty penny, so when considering whether or not to have a winch mounted for you, you’ll want to include that price in your budgeting. In order to mount a winch, you’ll also need a mount plate, and these things can be pretty pricey as well.
The kind of winch you have purchased, its weight and how you are attaching it to your truck will all play a part in how much you will pay for a winch mounting service.
It can cost as little as seventy-five dollars up to and well beyond three-hundred dollars to mount a winch. You’ll want to check that the place you’re having mount your winch has good reviews and that you can trust them especially if you’re trusting them with this type of equipment.
Winch installation is an extremely important part of purchasing and operating one, as installing it incorrectly could become a safety hazard and most certainly will impact the effectiveness of the winch.
What Businesses Mount Winches For You?
You can check with your local auto-shops to see if they’ll be willing to do that for you. Another good rule of thumb is seeing if where you purchased your winch will do winch mounting for you.
Places such as AutoZone or your favored mechanic will be more than happy to do so, though you’ll need to get a quote as for pricing on places that are more local businesses than chain mechanic and auto shops.
You might have purchased your winch from Amazon, and they do actually have a winch installation connection service, however it seems fairly new and has some trouble spots. Amazon is still adding to this service and it seems to be very much in the beta testing period.
It connects you to a local business that does winch installations and then transfers you to them to finish up and get your winch installed. There can be a few miscommunications between Amazon, the usual client and the shops though, so you’d be better off asking or calling your preferred mechanic shop to see if they’re willing to do it for you.
The price will vary per area as well, seeing as not all of the mechanic shops offer the same services especially with something like a winch.
The best way to get answers to your questions is by calling a mechanic shop and asking. You’ll choose one in your area, find the phone number (generally listed on google) and call them.
You’ll want to have the hardware beforehand, as that will most likely be cheaper than having them ship the parts in to mount the winch. If you’re worried about pricing, call several places and get quotes on what they’ll charge you for the mounting of a winch.
They will probably take into consideration your car, and the type of mount you want when giving you a price. This will streamline your process, keep you in your budget, and help you feel much calmer and centered about paying for such a service, especially if it is from a place you already know you can trust.
Choosing The Right Winch For Your Truck
Choosing the right winch for your truck is an important step in the process, most specifically because you want it to work well and safely for not only the weight of your own truck but also whoever you might need to recover in your outdoor adventures.
I have an entire article dedicated to Choosing The Right Winch Here, but here is a quick rundown:
As a general rule, you’ll want to go for a winch that can pull one and a half times the weight of the vehicle it is pulling and you most definitely shouldn’t go less than that as pulling any kind of weight under what the capacity of your winch does is unsafe and risks damage not only to your self but also the winch and your vehicle.
There are a variety of amazing winch brands out there, one of the most acclaimed and sought after is the brand Warn. Now this brand is fairly expensive, and the more pulling power and weight capacity the winch has, the more expensive it will get.
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You might have a smaller vehicle, and doing research on what winch is best for your truck will be most especially helpful with what you’re hoping to do. You might want an eight-thousand to ten-thousand pound pulling capacity winch for vehicles that weigh less than a Ford F-150 truck.
Most off-roading cars will be lighter, but not always so you should find out the weight of your truck and if you have regular buddies you go with, the weight of their vehicles as well, especially if you’re the only one with a winch.
As always, make sure your budget includes a mount plate as well as any other potential fees in getting your new winch up and running, which might be a winch bar and any other additions in getting it attached since different types of winches will require different mounts.