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How to Wire a Truck Winch: Step by Step

How to Wire a Truck Winch: Step by Step

A winch is an extremely useful tool, but only when it is attached to your truck properly. This involves connecting wires from your truck’s battery to the winch. But how do you wire a winch to a truck?

To wire a truck winch, attach the winch to the truck. Open the hood of the vehicle. Then, connect the positive wires attached to the winch control box to the positive end of the truck’s battery. Connect the negative wires attached to the winch control box to the negative end of the truck’s battery.

It is relatively easy to wire a winch to your truck once you know what you need to do. Included below is more information about winches and what you need to do to wire a winch to your truck.

What is a Winch?

Winches are often seen on the backs of tow trucks, but they are also seen on trucks that often go off-roading. They are devices that look like heavy-duty spools.

The cable on a winch is typically made of steel or a synthetic material. Both are incredibly strong, but one is not necessarily better than the other. They both have their flaws and strengths.

They typically come with a remote control so you don’t have to touch the winch while it is moving. They have a motor and gear train which give power and torque to the winch so you can pull whatever you need to out of where it is stuck.

Winches can be used for pulling, dragging, and lifting large items. However, if you lift heavy items with a winch, the winch itself can be damaged. Winches can be tricky to choose, especially when have to choose from many weight capacities, determine which winches will work with your vehicle, and decide where you want to put it. That may be your biggest challenge– choosing the right one.

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How To Install A Winch

There are several ways to install a winch on a truck. When you decide to purchase a winch, go to an auto store and purchase a winch kit. The kit will have everything you need to wire your winch to your truck.

Most winches you buy will tell you what kinds of vehicles they work with. It is important that your winch fits on your vehicle’s fender or bumper. Stock bumpers typically don’t work with the majority of winches on the market because they just are not large enough.

  • In addition to your winch, you will need a mounting plate that will fit your truck and that matches the pulling rate of your wench.
  • The plate should be set to the center of your truck bumper, at the front of the truck, or at the front of the bed of the truck depending on where you are mounting it.

You can mark where you will bolt it down before you put the bolts on the winch. Once the bolts are in place, tighten them completely. You don’t want your winch to fall off of your truck as you are driving it or as you are trying to pull someone out of a ditch or the mud.

Basic How To Wire A Winch

Once you have finished mounting the winch to your truck, you can connect the wires to your truck battery or an auxiliary battery. Using the truck battery means you don’t need to deal with installing a new battery, and it is the easiest way to power your winch. However, heavy-duty hauling should be done on an external battery.

  1. The positive wire is connected to the positive post on the winch. It would usually look like a red positive cable (+).
  2. The black/brown negative cable (-) is attached to the winch’s ground post.
  3. Make sure that the wires are not damaged anywhere. The wires should be arranged to the engine section and kept away from any possible heat or friction in your truck.
  4. The positive wire can now be connected to the positive post on the truck’s battery.
  5. The negative wire should already be connected to the ground post on the battery. If it is not already connected, go ahead and connect them.
  6. Make sure that the nuts and bolts on the winch are tightened completely.

Now your truck’s winch is ready to use! Try it out and see if it works. If all of the wires are connected properly and your winch doesn’t work, there may be something wrong with the wires. Contact the manufacturer and see if they can help you identify the issue.

If you are mounting it from the back bed of the truck, you can install it to the bottom of the bed of the truck or mount it to a bar.

If you choose to mount it to a bar, bolt the bar to both sides of the bed of the truck so the winch can get more leverage when it is being used. The bar can possibly protect the winch from being damaged if you are in a car accident.

Front Mounting

When you mount and wire a winch to the front of the vehicle, you can wire it to the vehicle’s battery for light-medium use (440 cold-cranking amps and an alternator of 60 amps), or you can use an auxiliary battery (440-660 cold-cranking amps with a 60 amp alternator).

Truck Battery

  1. You will want to connect the positive cable to the positive terminal post of the winch.
  2. Connect the negative cable to the negative post.
  3. Feed the two wires into the engine compartment being careful to keep them away from friction and heat.
  4. Connect the positive terminal of the lead from the winch to the vehicle’s battery using a circuit-breaker.
  5. Do the same for the negative terminal and the negative terminal of the battery.
  6. Install come quick disconnects that are able to be used with the gauge of the wire to the winch.
  7. The leads should be connected to the correct sides on both the battery and the winch.

Auxiliary Battery

For auxiliary battery connections, the process is extremely similar. However, there are some changes that you need to be aware of.

  1. The auxiliary battery needs to be parallel with the truck’s battery and mounted with an insulator between the two batteries. The two outputs of the batteries needs to add up to 12 volts.
  2. When you set up your connection, the auxiliary battery should be set up to draw power from it as a backup battery for the winch.
  3. Connect using a the positive cable to the positive terminal and then connect the positive post of the winch to the positive terminal of the trucks’s battery, the same as with a direct connection to the battery.
  4. Connect the negative cable to the negative terminal and then connect the negative post of the winch to the negative terminal of the trucks’s battery.
  5. When connecting, be sure to do it from the ignition circuit.
  6. Connect the power wire to the positive post of the winch and do the same for the negative wire and the ground post on the winch.
  7. Feed the negative and positive wires to the engine compartment making sure that they are not damaged nor in danger of being exposed to heat or friction within the engine.
  8. There will be a positive lead on the winch that you can connect to the positive post of the auxiliary battery.
  9. Do the same for the winch’s negative side.
  10. Both connections should have quick disconnects that line up with the power and ground wires.
  11. Connect the truck lead to the auxiliary battery to the winch’s side and lastly make sure that all quick disconnects are compatible with the gauge of wire that is being used.

Trailer Mounting

Trailer mounting, though not for heavy-duty use, can be used for light or medium hauling. It should have a battery of 440amps cold cranking and an alternator of 60 amps. You will have to wire it to the battery with quick disconnects whenever in use.

Truck Battery

  1. The head of the trailer should already have a metal surface to mount and ground the winch.
  2. The long power should be set up and stretch from the quick disconnect to the truck’s battery.
  3. Avoid stretching the wires through areas that are hot or could damage them in any way.
  4. Connect the positive wire up to the positive post of the truck battery.
  5. Separate the short wire from the other cables or wires and use it to ground the vehicle by attaching it to the frame of the vehicle by attaching it to your flat piece of metal at the front of the trailer.
  6. Connect the trailer’s quick disconnect to the winch.
  7. Connect the positive wire to the positive post of the winch and do the same with the ground post of the winch and earthen wire.
  8. Connect the two opposite ends of the wires. Make sure that your quick disconnects are on the correct side of the truck and battery.

Auxiliary Battery

  1. The auxiliary battery should be installed at the front of the trailer and protected from the weather. If you are comfortable with welding, many people protect it with a metal toolbox.
  2. Attach the ground lead and power lead to the winch.
  3. Attach the positive wire to the battery’s positive post and do the same with the “negative wire to the negative pole of the storm.” (source)
  4. The battery should be charged frequently to guarantee that it’s ready to use when needed and has at least 12 volts if there is any extra wiring. The connector going to the trailer will pull power from the circuit which pulls power from the truck’s battery.
  5. When the 12 volt circuit accessory and the trailer is connected that will give you power to the winch. Make sure that you also connect the 12-gauge wire and the trailer-side connector.
  6. Ground your trailer battery to the trailer frame with a 12 gauge wire.
  7. Wire the trailer’s quick-disconnect to the winch.
  8. Connect the battery’s positive wire to the positive post on the winch.
  9. Then, connect the battery’s negative wire to the ground post on the winch.
  10. Connect the wires on the opposite ends, where they are not connected to anything.

Now, your winch is ready to use! Turn on your truck and test it out!

Bumper Mounting

If you are mounting it to the bumper, you will want to take the bumper off and mounting attaching the winch carrier.

You can bolt the cables to the battery feed the cables through the grill and over to the passenger battery.

Below is an example of how to wire a wench to the battery although they added the ground wires before the positive cables. The instructions above are like jump-starting a car.

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What Kind of Battery Should You Use?

If you are winching heavy-duty objects maybe for work or for a situation where you don’t want too much stress on your battery, you should install an auxiliary battery into your truck to get more power. A regular truck battery needs to have 440 cold-cranking amperes or amps, but with an auxiliary battery, you can get up to 660 cold-cranking amps.

To determine if your truck’s battery can support your winch, figure out how many amps the winch requires to function. It will be listed on the winch or in the instructions that come with the winch. If your winch requires more amps than your truck’s battery can supply, the winch will drain your battery and you won’t be able to go anywhere.

What Do You Need to Wire a Winch?

To wire a winch to your truck, you need tools. Luckily, you really only need one tool: a 14 mm spanner wrench. All of the other supplies that you need will be included in the winch kit. If you are worried about getting shocked while connecting the winch wires to your car’s battery, wear gloves.

When you are using a winch, make sure that you wear protective gear. Always wear thick gloves and put a blanket over the winch cable as it is moving. The blanket will prevent it from going towards you if it snaps. The gloves will protect your hands from the cable as it can fray over time.

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