How to Install a Winch

by Don Bowman

To make the installation of a winch possible, a vehicle must have a suitable pullbar bumper and provisions for a fairlead. When purchasing a winch, it is a good idea to talk to your salesman and relate your intended use for the winch. Winches come in many different pulling strengths; you don't want to install one that is insufficient for the purpose, or too strong and costly. Winches all mount in a similar fashion, so compatibility isn't an factor as far as the pullbar goes; however, winches are heavy, so get a friend to help with installation.

Take the winch out of the box and locate the four long bolts and nuts that came with it. Install the four fiber locknuts in the recesses on the bottom of the winch and place a piece of tape over the opening so that they don't fall out.

Find the two thick steel spacers with two holes in each of them -- these go under the bumper, and the bolts will pass through them, upwards through the bumper, through the fairlead plate and into the base of the winch.

Lift the winch with some help and place it on the bumper, above the mounting holes. Install the fairlead (the cable guide rollers) mounting plate under the winch. This will require the helper to lift the winch just enough to allow the fairlead plate to slide underneath the winch. At this time, it is a good idea to pass the cable through the fairlead and attach the end hook. Line up the holes in the fairlead bracket with the holes in the bumper and the winch.

Pass the bolts upwards through the thick steel spacers, through the bumper, the fairlead bracket and into the winch base. Tighten these four bolts to 90 foot-pounds of torque. Run the large 2-gauge red positive and black negative cables down under the vehicle and up into the engine compartment to the battery. Make sure they are not rubbing on anything sharp.

Connect the red cable to the positive terminal on the battery and the black cable to the negative. Place dielectric grease in the protective caps to keep the moisture out, and push the caps over the connections. Lift the rubber protective boot off the remote connection on the winch and plug in the remote control switch.


  • check It is a good idea to go to the auto parts store and get battery terminals with an accessory stud in order to make a better and easier connection at the battery.

Items you will need

About the Author

Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).

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