Should I put a winch on my pickup truck?

If you have ever owned a pickup truck, then at some point or the other, you would have considered getting a winch for it. Every off-roading enthusiast knows that it is a must! The same is applicable if you have a work truck. A winch can help you get unstuck out of any tough road situation safely without the help of anyone else. This modification provides numerous functionalities and would make your vehicle look great at all times.

Choosing the right winch

There are several different kinds of winches available: mechanical drum, electrical, hydraulic, mechanical capstan, mechanical portable, mechanical hand-operated, and hybrid. All winches come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, you have the option to choose from a synthetic or steel cable.

You also need to decide on how to mount your winch. An improperly installed winch can result in major vehicle damage, especially during off-road conditions. Hence, it is a must to consult a professional before deciding on the right winch. If you are wondering if a winch is worth your money and the trouble, then here is some important information for you.

When conditions on off-road trails get challenging, a winch could make a lot of difference. A winch can also help you or a fellow off-roader to become unstuck during any off-roading mishap. Electric winches come in handy and remove hazards from your tracks such as boulders or fallen trees. If your truck comes with open differentials, then you need to opt for a winch to help you get out of tricky situations.

The cost of a winch depends on the size, make and model you opt for. Most vehicles are equipped with 9 lbs. winch which is more than sufficient to recover your vehicle if you have landed yourself in an immobile situation. Other factors such as steel vs. synthetic will influence the cost. Synthetic ropes are a lot safer and lighter. However, these come with a higher price tag.

Who should consider a winch?

You should consider getting a winch if

  • The utility of a winch can assist you on your farm or job site
  • You go on a solo adventure with your pickup truck to remote areas
  • You go rock crawling, mudding, or wheeling

You don’t need a winch if you always travel with other vehicles in the backcountry and always stay on established routes that have cell phone coverage.

You should remember that investing in a winch wouldn’t be cheap. However, having one would mean having an invaluable resource at your disposal. If you have a thing for taking an adventure off the beaten path without others, then a winch promises you self-reliance that cannot measure up to anything else. You must keep in mind that a winch is as good as the operator. Hence, proper training on its correct usage is a must while making any decision.

Factors to consider before buying a winch

There are various factors you need to consider before running out and purchasing a winch.

  • Make sure to have an upgraded front suspension to accommodating additional weight
  • Invest in a quality winch-compatible steel front bumper that can securely house a winch on your pickup truck
  • It is a must to have a full recovery kit that comprises a tree-protector strap with a minimum of two properly rated shackles, a winch-line damper, a winch-line extension, gloves, and a snatch block.
  • Replace the steel cable with a synthetic rope as these are much safer and lighter
  • Include a heavy-duty battery and charging system in the vehicle. Having a dual-battery system can help in case the primary battery fails during a trip
  • Consider the installation costs

Although a winch may seem like a costly investment, it is worth the safety you get while off-roading. With the upgrades adding up, the total cost would be three times that of an intermediate winch. This is the reason why you don’t come across pickup trucks with winches often. Not everybody needs it. you need to determine whether it is worth investing in depending on your requirements.

Do I need a winch plate?

Yes. If you have decided to mount a winch on your pickup truck, then you will have to install a suitable winch plate. Several high-end bumpers come pre-installed with a winch plate. Not all aftermarket bumpers come with it. This is when you can go for a universal winch plate. Most of the winch plates sold commercially are ¼” steel. Universal winch mounting plates are fine for most brands of winches provided the orientation is correct while mounting. Universal winch mounting plates are easy to use and can be installed without any complications. As there aren’t many variations available, you can go for a universal plate that can be modified to fit any pickup truck.

Electric or hydraulic?

Winches are powered in two different ways. The most common are electric winches that use the vehicle’s battery power to turn the motor. These typically come with faster-winding speeds and are easier to install. These also offer the advantage of using remote control through which you can safely stand away from the vehicle during recovery.

An electric winch draws a lot of power from your pickup truck’s electrical system. Hence, it is vital to make sure that there is sufficient power to operate it. you can check the manufacturer’s amperage rating to check if your vehicle battery can power the winch at its full capacity. If not, then you will have to upgrade to a higher-output alternator or dual-battery system.

Hydraulic winches utilize the power steering of a vehicle to wind up the winch line. Many enthusiasts go for hydraulic winches as they are extremely reliable. These are not affected by low battery power or water. This is why these are commonly used in areas with a lot of water and mud. As long as the engine of your pickup truck is working, a hydraulic winch can rescue you from any situation.


Investing in the right winch will ensure safe recoveries. You will come across numerous kinds of winches being sold on the market. Some of these kinds are electric winches, hydraulic winches, engine-driven winches, electric winches, twin-motor, come-along, and many more. The most popular winches are electric-powered winches that come with synthetic ropes. These are driven off a battery that gets charged by an alternator. Synthetic ropes are safer and lighter. The best thing about them is that they can be tied together even after they break. You can also opt for a steel cable winch. These are durable and can withstand abrasions from rocks easier. They are heavier and more dangerous. No matter which winches you decide to purchase, you need to make sure that you invest in the correct one based on your requirements and applications.

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