Top Factors to Consider When Buying a Winch


For off-road enthusiasts who purchase a new 4WD, the first accessory they’re likely to buy is not aftermarket suspension or larger tyres, it’s recovery equipment such as a winch. A winch is an awesome recovery tool that assists 4WD owners get out of sticky situations, whether it’s mud, sand, or they got stuck crossing a river and need to save their vehicle! Instead of getting your mate’s help using a snatch strap and putting their vehicle in danger, the most reliable and practical way of recovering is by using a winch.

It’s vital that 4WD owners have an understanding about winches because there is no one-size-fits-all. What worked best for your last 4WD isn’t necessarily going to be the best solution for your new 4WD, and there are many variables which need to be assessed to ensure you make the right decision. To shed some light into the topic, today’s article will be focusing on the top factors you should consider when buying a winch.

The size of the winch

Winches are available in a range of sizes, usually between 4,000lbs and 20,000lbs. The size of the winch that is right for your vehicle depends on both your vehicle’s GVM (Gross Vehicle Weight) and the type of conditions where you may need to use your winch.

Your vehicle’s GVM is the maximum operating weight of your vehicle as detailed by the manufacturer which is commonly found on the metal tag on the driver’s door. Your winch rating should at least 1.5 times greater than your GVM, but your intended usage can also quickly cause your winch capacity to be exceeded. For example, a common reason to use your winch is getting bogged in mud, which has an amazing suction force and will commonly make the 1.5 rule of thumb insufficient.

Mounting options

How do you plan to mount your winch to your 4WD? There are several popular methods used by most off-road enthusiasts. The first option is a bumper mounted winch which is by far the most versatile as it can be configured many different ways depending on your needs. Installation is also very straightforward.

The second option is a multi-mounted winch which is a little more complicated than the first option. A multi-mounted winch is permanently fixed to your 4WD and consists of a carrier and a receiver which is attached to the bumper. Lastly, the favourite mounting option for real ‘off-roadies’ is the winch bumper which has a protective one-piece bumper with added protection and looks like it’s part of the vehicle. They’re engineered to be durable without adding heaps of weight to your front-end and maintain excellent vehicle handling characteristics.

Cable or syntenic rope?

Most modern winches are available in either cable or synthetic rope and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Cable is generally a long-lasting and durable option which allows heat to dissipate from the internal brake drum. However, cable winches are typically less expensive and are heavier, more difficult to handle, and can develop barbs, rust, and kink.

On the other hand, rope winches are made from altered polypropylene material and has a stronger breaking strength in tension. Rope winches are also easier to handle, lighter, stronger, and won’t rust. Despite this, synthetic rope winches are more expensive, don’t dissipate heat which can affect the brake on the winch, and will degrade in the sunlight. Be careful with cheap imitations on the market too!

Front end suspension

As most synthetic rope winches are roughly 30kg, it’s vital that you consider the weight of your winch on your front end suspension. Adding a permanent winch to your vehicle will have a significant impact on your handling and the lifespan of your suspension, so you should seriously consider upgrading your suspension when installing a winch. The heavier the winch you purchase, the more suspension will be needed to support it!

Get some advice!

Getting some expert advice from seasoned professionals is always helpful when searching for the right winch for your 4WD. For example, if you’re in doubt about what winch rating you should get, always spend a little more on a bigger winch which will substantially increase performance and life expectancy.

The team at TJM Dandenong have a range of new generation winches and can offer professional advice regarding the best winch for your vehicle. For more information or just some friendly advice, phone their staff directly on 03 9792 1116.