Top 10 Tips For Using Your ATV or UTV Winch

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee
Top 10 Winch Tips

Just picture the best trail and the crew of buddies you have been waiting to ride with all in one location. You make it out onto the trailhead and then the competitive nature of hill climbing, rock crawling, or mud bogging comes into play.

One thing leads to another when you or a friend manages to drop a beastly ATV or Side-by-Side off into something that the machine alone cannot get out of.

This is where you will have to become familiar with the winch on the front of the rig. If you do not know how to use it right, you may be in for more of a hassle than a recovery. But never fear; we have put together a few tips that will hopefully keep you looking like a pro – you may even get to play hero and rescue one of your buddies.

Most of this advice is nothing more than common sense but if you do not know you will be in more of a jam should you get stuck on the trail. Practice using your winch and take the time to inspect the cable, drum and fair lead after each use.

You’ll also want to carry a winch accessory bag, as it contains the tools we’ll show you how to use.

WARN Winch Gloves
Work Gloves

Always keep a good thick pair of gloves with you as some winch cables are steel, which can fray. This causes needle-like shreds that will penetrate your skin.

Tree Saver Strap
Tree Saver

If you have to use a tree of any size to help with the recovery of your machine, you need to use a tree saver strap. Absolutely do not wrap the cable or rope from your winch around the tree. The tree saver strap should be at least three inches in width and should have loops in each end to thread your winch hook through.

Winch D-Rings

If you have a D-ring with you use it to hook through the tree saver strap and then hook your winch cable to it.

ProMark Snatch Block
Snatch Block

The snatch block in the kit can be used to double the pulling power of the winch, even though it does slow the effective pulling speed. This snatch block can be attached to the tree saver via the D-ring and once the winch cable is threaded through it could be hooked back onto the machine it is pulling or to another anchor point.

Winch UTV Action
Give Your Winch a Break

When winching anything, be sure to operate the winch in short bursts. Long pulls without any breathing room for the winch will certainly over heat it.

CTEK Battery Tender
Maintain Your Battery

Be sure your machine is running as well. The winch is pulling tremendous amounts of power and a dead battery is not something you’ll want after getting the machine out of its predicament.

John Deere Winch Action
Point Vehicle Toward Anchor Point

Always try to turn the vehicle in the direction of the primary anchor point while winching. We understand this may not be possible at first but try to make it a goal before pulling the full weight of the machine too far. Pulling sideways or parallel to the winch drum can cause it to break or spool the cable in a way that could bind and destroy the drum.

Stuck in Mud
Create a Path

For all of the mud boggers out there, try to dig out as much as possible around the tires and place sticks or rocks in the rut or even in the mud to give you that extra traction. The reason for this is to try and take as much of the load off the winch as possible.

Steel Winch Cable
Don’t Hold the Winch Cable

Never hold the winch cable in your hands while it is winding up on the spool or while winching. As we mentioned before the steel cable can fray and stick into your hands and if the cable snaps you do not want to be near it.

ATV Winch Action
Mind Your Fingers

Never hold onto the hook of your winch. Use the hook strap just in case the hook gets bound in some way and also to prevent your fingers from getting pulled into the roller or Hawse fairleads.

Rick Sosebee
Rick Sosebee

Whether he is in Mexico covering the Baja 1000, building ATVs for local racers, or out enjoying the trails, Rick’s passion shows in his stories. Learning to wrench his own machines from his grandfather, Rick also has an undying appreciation for the mechanics of off-road vehicles. Do not let the dirt and mud fool you, though, as Rick also has a deep love for street cars.

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