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Home » Expert Advice » Top Tips on Using your ATV Winch Safely and Effectively

Top Tips on Using your ATV Winch Safely and Effectively

Owning an ATV winch is one thing, and knowing how to use an ATV winch is another. While winching isn’t extraordinarily complicated, it can be time-consuming, and possibly dangerous, if you don’t take the right precautions. Follow these 11 tips to be safer and more confident when using your ATV winch.

Read your manual. All ATV winches come with manuals, and this is your most important resource. If you come across conflicting advice, always adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Likewise, if you have questions about the operation of your ATV winch, contact the manufacturer for advice.

Practice first. An ATV winch operation encompasses several steps, and you should feel comfortable with every one of them. You’ll benefit from practicing when your head is clear, before you end up in a recovery situation. Once your ATV gets stuck, the stress of the situation will impact your concentration. That’s really no time to be learning something new.

Stretch the wire rope before you use it. Follow the instructions in your ATV winch manual for stretching your wire rope. According to the folks at WARN, rope failures are more likely when you use the wire rope without stretching it first.

Evaluate your battery power. An ATV winch puts a heavy drain on your battery. If your ATV’s battery is old, consider replacing it or upgrading it, if possible.

Carry a spare remote. Keep a spare remote, in case the original one fails at the wrong time.

Pay attention to the clutch. Accidents can happen if you aren’t careful with the clutch on your ATV winch. When you disengage the clutch, double check that it’s fully disengaged. Be just as thorough when you engage the clutch. Do not engage the clutch while the winch is operating, and do not disengage the clutch while the wire rope is taut.

Don’t overextend the wire rope. Be precise when you spool out the wire rope before attaching it to your anchor point. A rope that is too slack may not spool back onto the wire drum evenly. Also, you need to leave one layer, or about five wraps, of the rope wrapped around the drum. If you extend the rope too far, it could pull away from the drum.

Turn the tires. If you can, turn the ATV’s front tires to face the direction you are pulling. This lessens resistance.

Disconnect the remote when you aren’t using it, just to prevent any unwanted surprises.

Watch the winch rope as it spools. Make sure the ATV winch rope spools onto the drum cleanly. It shouldn’t pile up on one side of the drum or wrap unevenly. You may need to start and stop the winch motor frequently to ensure even spooling.

Learn how to use a snatch block. You won’t always have an acceptable anchor point situated directly in front of your stuck ATV. In these situations, a snatch block is invaluable. Note that a snatch block increases the pulling power of your ATV winch, but decreases its speed.