How to Select the Correct Winch for Your Vehicle

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

Are you planning on going off-road driving? Then you will probably need to attach a winch to your vehicle. An electric winch is used to pull heavy objects or to adjust the tension of a rope. But not all winches are the same. These devices come in different weights and sizes.

So how do you pick the correct winch for your vehicle? If you’d like to find out then continue reading today’s article. We’ll give you all the features and specs you should consider before buying a winch for your off-road vehicle.

How Much Power Are You Looking For?

You want a winch that will get you out of a ditch or move your vehicle away from a rock if you get stuck. So your winch must have the power to move your heavy vehicle when you need it to. Therefore your winch must be 1.5 times the gross weight of your vehicle.

To find the correct winch capacity, multiply your vehicle’s weight by 1.5 and the result will give you the answer. For example, if your car weighs 2000kg your winch capacity should be 3000kg.

If the capacity of the winch is lower than your vehicle weight the device won’t be able to handle the heaviness of your vehicle. So always make sure you pick the correct winch capacity.

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Types of Winches

There are two types of winches: hydraulic and electrical. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two types of winches in this next section.


A hydraulic winch will operate when it’s connected to your vehicle’s power steering pump. Many people will select a hydraulic powered winch because it doesn’t overheat or damage your vehicle’s electrical system. These winches are perfect for everyday use.


An electric winch operates when it’s connected to your vehicle’s battery and electrical system. This type of winch is the most popular out of the two types. Electric winches are cheaper than the hydraulic-powered ones.

What Size and Weight Winch are You Looking For?

Since the winch will be attached to your vehicle you’ll need to consider the device’s weight and size. You don’t want a winch that’s going to weigh your car down unnecessarily. Winches can weigh between 36kg and 42kg so ensure your car will be able to handle the extra weight.

The size of the winch also plays a major factor when fitting it onto your vehicle. If you don’t want the winch to stick out then consider a device that has a streamlined structure. A compact winch can be hidden behind a stock bumper.

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What Rope Must You Use with Your Winch?

There’s a lot of debate when selecting the type of rope you should use on a winch. Let’s go through the differences between the two cable types so you can pick which one you think is more suitable for you.


A synthetic rope is light, flexible and easier to work with than steel lines. You don’t need safety gloves when working with synthetic rope and they work well for trail winches.

On the other hand, the synthetic rope may wear over time due to UV rays. It’s also difficult to maintain synthetic rope because you have to wash the line off if mud or sand gets onto it.


Steel rope is affordable, easy to maintain and extremely durable. These steel ropes won’t tear or corrode. The downside to steel winch lines is that they’re heavy and may add a few extra kilograms to your vehicle.

On the plus side, if you drive through harsh conditions regularly then a steel winch rope is for you. A steel winch line can handle debris, mud and water and you don’t have to maintain it regularly.

Winch Motors

There are two types of motors used for electric winches:

  • Permanent magnetic: These motors operate with magnets that are mounted on a rotor. Permanent magnetic motors are cheaper, but they do overheat easily. So if you’re planning on using your winch every day a permanent magnetic motor might not be a suitable option.
  • Series wound: If you want to use your winch when the temperatures drop below zero or for heavy-duty projects, then select a series wound motor. These motors have stator field coils connected to the rotor windings through a commutator. The design of this motor ensures optimal current flow and they won’t overheat.

Mounting Your Winch

Your winch must be mounted to your car’s chassis. Installing your winch on this part of your car ensures that the mounting system is capable of the pulling capacity of the winch. Modern bullbars provide a space so you can mount a winch easily.

On the other hand, if your chassis doesn’t have a space for a winch simply modify the bumper to fit your device correctly.

Final Thoughts

We hope the information in our article helps you find the winch you’re looking for. You’ll be happy to know that many reputable companies around Australia sell affordable and premium winches. Which one will you buy?