Informational Guide

How To Use A Winch?

Read our ultimate guide on how to use a winch. We cover different vehicles such as jeeps and how to safely tow out of any situation.

The winch is a mechanical device that helps you pull heavy objects, whether you are stuck in the mud during off-roading or you need to clear obstacles from a trail. It’s not difficult to learn how to use a winch if you follow the simple instructions.


The winch will either pull in, through winding up or let out, through winding out. The tension on a winch is automatically adjusted through a wire cable or rope.

Electrically powered winches are run through the car battery, but manual winches require labor to operate.

Why Is a Winch Important for Off Roading?

Whether you choose the best truck winch or you want a UTV winch, there are several benefits you can expect.

  • Easy to get vehicle unstuck
  • Ability to move slow and steady
  • Overcome tough obstacles
  • Perform rollover recovery
  • Changing the approach angle
  • Moving obstacles that are in the path
  • Recovery of another vehicle

How To Safely Use a Winch

Supplemental Recovery Items/Accessories

Before you learn how to use a cable winch, you want to have the essential gear on hand. We recommend carrying gloves, hooks, a fairlead, D-rings, a tree saver, tow strap, snatch block, and winch damper for most operations.

Installing The Winch

Before you learn how to use a winch on a Jeep, you need to install the equipment. While most installations will be the same, it’s best to reference the operator’s manual to ensure you get the job done right.

Pre-tensioning The Wire

Some winches are ready to go out of the box, while others require pre-tensioning the wire. Attach the winch cable to the drum from one end and a heavy object on the other. Put your vehicle in Park and set the emergency brake. Then, start the winch to cause the cable to wrap around the drum with precise tension.

Front Mounted Winches (Self Recovery)

By mounting the winch on the front of the vehicle, you can self-recover. Here are the steps to take.

  1. 1
    Anchor your winch to a heavy object straight in front of the vehicle. Hit the Disengage lever to release the winch cable and wrap it around the anchoring point.
  2. 2
    Hook your winch cable to a D shackle with the tip facing upward.
  3. 3
    Engage the winch and slowly pull it taut with your remote control.
  4. 4
    Winch your vehicle toward the anchor point, while gently applying gas.
  5. 5
    Stop winching as soon as you reach solid ground.

Recovering Another Vehicle With a Winch

You will follow the same necessary steps as when performing self-recovery. Just make sure that your vehicle is placed in Park and located on stable ground.

You will want to attach the end of the cable to the stuck vehicle instead of an anchor point. Additionally, stop winching as soon as the vehicle reaches a secure location.

Winching Safety Tips

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With operation, you must also know how not to use a winch. Here are some safety precautions to take during recovery.

  • Inspect the condition of the winch before each use.
  • Wear gloves during operation.
  • Always use a damper.
  • Don’t attach the winch to itself or double back.
  • Stay away from the cable while it is being used.
  • Don’t step over your winch cable.
  • Don’t anchor to a dead tree.
  • Winch slowly.
  • Don’t drive your vehicle during winching if you are performing recovery.
  • Always connect to a structural point on the vehicle you are recovering.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How much weight can a winch pull?

Winches are rated by how much they can pull. The boat trailer winch is going to be less capable than a heavy-duty truck winch.

How do you winch without trees?

If you can’t use a tree for an anchor, consider using a Pull-Pal or operate with a Deadman anchor. This unpopular tactic means you simply bury a heavy object, such as a log, rock, or your spare tire.

Where do you stand when winching?

As you learn how to use a come along winch, you want to stay as far away from the wire as possible. Never straddle it and use a remote control with your electronic winch when possible.

How big of a winch should I get?

You want to choose a winch that will handle the largest object you would pull.

Which winch accessory absorbs energy if the cable breaks?

The recovery damper absorbs energy when the winch line breaks. It prevents injury from the whiplash of the cable. You can also substitute the damper with a heavy blanket or a furniture pad.

How do you increase the pull power of a winch?

If you learn how to use a winch pulley block, you can double the pulling capacity of your equipment.

How to use a winch without the controller?

You don’t want to run the winch without a controller, but sometimes it gets damaged. In this case, you can jumper the holes of your winch connector to activate the solenoids.

How to use a Hi-Lift jack for winching?

It’s best to have some additional accessories on hand if you want to use your Hi-Lift jack as a winch. We recommend the Hi-Lift off-road kit.

What is a come along winch? How to use it?

The come-along winch is also called a hand cable puller or power puller.  This tool is operated by hand and utilizes a ratchet that pulls the object.  


In this article, we have looked at how to use a hand winch, plus touched on how to use a winch strap. Now, all that’s left to do is start winching; just make sure you do it safely.