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Truck Winch Basics: How to Safely Operate a Winch when You’re in a Bind

Truck Winch Basics: How to Safely Operate a Winch when You’re in a Bind
January 24, 2019 TheHoth
truck winch

You take your 4×4 offroading just like you usually do. This time, your 4×4 takes a dip into deep mud and doesn’t budge. You don’t have your friends with you, and you don’t have a shovel to dig yourself out – what do you do?

With a truck winch, you can easily pull yourself out of any situation. Winches may be helpful, but they can be dangerous to use if you don’t know what you’re doing. Check out these five winch safety tips you should keep in mind when operating a winch.

1. Use the Frame-Mounted Tow Hooks When Pulling

You might be inclined to use the winch hook when you’re trying to pull someone else’s vehicle out of mud or a ditch. You should be aware that winches are meant to be used for static pulls, not kinetic. This means the anchor shouldn’t move when using a winch.

Attaching the winch to a stuck vehicle and putting the unstuck vehicle in reverse while pulling can harm the drivetrain, as well as the winch brakes. Knowing how to winch properly can save you from damaging your rig.

2. Be Cautious With Rocks

Winching to rock can be dangerous if you don’t pick the right one. Choose the biggest nearby rock and tie a tree saver around it. Don’t use your winch cable, as sharp rocks can cause damage to the line.

You should also avoid having your winch line strung over pointy rocks. Since the cable will be stretched out during the winching process, it becomes more susceptible to breaking if something sharp rubs against it. Always use a protective sheath around your rope when winching over rocks.

3. Avoid Tying a Winch Cable to a Tree

Choosing to wrap your synthetic or steel winch cable around a tree can actually kill the tree. Instead, use a tree saver when a tree is your anchor.

Make sure to wrap the tree saver close to the bottom of the tree. Wrapping it too high can result in you pulling the whole tree down, and getting seriously hurt while you’re at it.

4. Wear Gloves

Wearing gloves is a part of basic winch safety – steel winch cables become extremely sharp when they’re frayed. A small brush against it with your hand can result in a deep slice. Cacti, thorns, wire, and other debris can also get stuck to the rope, making it dangerous to touch without gloves.

Invest in thick, leather gloves to wear while winching. Don’t forget to keep your hands at least an arm’s length away from the winch during the spooling and unspooling process.

5. Weigh the Winch Cable Down

Whether you’re using a truck bed winch or a typical winch, you’ll need to weigh it down. Placing a tow strap, winch weight, winter coat, or a heavy blanket over the winch cable can prevent it from becoming a safety hazard. Weighing it down reduces the chance that the cable will break and hit someone.

Exercise Caution When Using a Truck Winch

Winch truck safety starts with an awareness of potential perils. Following these truck winch procedures can ensure you get your vehicle out of a bind with ease.

You know how to get your truck out of the mud, but how can you be sure your truck runs smoothly in the snow? Take a look at our article outlining the best truck customization ideas for winter weather.