An ATV winch is probably one of the most important accessories you could mount onto your sport/utility or 4 x 4 side by side ATV. Is your ATV stuck in the mud? Did your kill just fall into a deep revenge? Do you need to clear some timber? Are you plowing snow? No problem if you own a winch. An ATV electric winch is like having a best friend that can lift or pull 2,500 pounds or more. There are endless uses for an ATV winch.
Choosing the correct winch to buy is dependent upon the weight of your ATV and how you plan to use the winch. The general rule of thumb is to choose a winch that is rated at 1.5 times your gross vehicle weight. When calculating the weight of your ATV, add in to the weight everything you normally carry on the trail with you. ATV winches are listed by pulling power. Pulling capacity starts at 1,500 pounds and can run up to 3,000 pounds. There is a 4,000 pound capacity winch for UTVs. If you have a large 4-wheel drive you will most likely want to purchase a winch with over 2,000 lb. capacity. Since the price of a winch increases with increased pulling capacity, it is a good idea to also think about how you may use the winch. If you do a lot of off-road riding, a more powerful winch will be needed to pull you out of the mud.
Winch accessories will help make your winch more convenient and easy to use. Accessories that you may wish to purchase are a free-spooling clutch, fairlead, roller, hawse, remote rocker switch, cover and a winch kit that includes a tow strap with loops at each end, nylon storage bag with straps to keep the kit securely mounted on a 4-wheeler rack, steel shackle, pulley block and mesh bag for storing wet equipment.
ATV Winch Mount
Winching can place a lot of strain on your ATV’s frame. Thus it is extremely important to purchase a proper winch mount for your ATV/quad. The ideal winch mount will distribute the weight of the pulling load throughout the ATV’s frame, providing extra stability. It will also minimize the possibility of damage to the ATV’s frame, ride and handling.
With newer models of ATVs, winches can be mounted on the front or rear bumper and can be shifted from front to back. It is important to make sure that your winch is compatible with the mounting plate you choose. In some cases, you may need to replace your ATV bumper since not all plates work with original bumpers. You can find mounting systems that include a customized bumper with a mounting plate.
Mounting plates will come with instructions. Tools you may need for installing a winch mount include a wrench, drill, screwdriver, ratchet and file. While installing the mounting plate, make sure that you move wires or hoses out of the way to avoid damage to your ATV. It is also a good idea to use an adhesive to secure the bolts while you are tightening them. Always make sure that the winch sits on the plate perfectly before securing it.
With the proper mount, nearly all ATV winches will work with your Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Arctic Cat, Bombardier (Can-Am) and Polaris ATV’s. New and used ATV aftermarket wholesale and discounted winches and mounts may be purchased through motorsport dealerships, catalogs and on-line stores that sell parts & accessories. New and used ATV winches may also be purchased through auction sites such as E-Bay.
Warn, Mile Marker, Superwinch and Viper are manufacturers of popular winches and mounts.
ATV Winch Wiring
Wiring an ATV winch can take some time but it is well worth it. You will need a voltage meter for this task. The first step is to mount the contactor or relay box. The contactor is the central wiring point for the winch. Many ATV riders will place the contactor under the driver’s seat.
Next, connect the wires from the winch to the contactor box per the winch instructions and diagrams. You may need to drill a hole or use a file.
Now you are ready to mount the winch control switches. Some winches use switches that connect to the contactor and the ignition switch on the ATV. If the switch is connected to your ignition, you will only be able to operate the winch if your ATV is powered on. It’s a good idea to mount the switches on the handlebar for steering convenience. If you do decide to mount the switches on the handlebar, the wiring will have to be slid through the handlebars or along the path of the handlebar wiring.
Using a voltage meter, find the hot lead on your ignition. Once you locate it, connect the lead to your winch switch. Connect the other switch wire to your contactor.
Once the switch is wired, connect the winch cables to the battery. Finally, you are finished. Make sure that you follow the instructions that accompany your winch for installations will vary.