If you are serious about four wheel driving you have probably had a winch installed on your vehicle.
A winch allows you to recover your 4WD when you are stuck. A cable (steel or nylon) is attached to a recovery point (usually a large tree or another vehicle) and then the winch is engaged. The motor turns a drum which winds the winch cable in – pulling the vehicle forward (hopefully!).
The key things to look for when buying a winch –
- Power – the winch should be able to pull at least 1.5 to 2 times the weight (GVM) of the vehicle to be safe
- Winch cable – go for synthetic rope if possible – it is lighter and safer to use
- Wired or Wireless – Wireless does give you more options and allows you to stand in a safer spot when doing some recoveries
- Line Speed – if you are going to be doing a lot of recovery – the speed of the winch will help save you time
- How strong is your front end – Make sure your barwork and suspension can handle the extra 25-45kgs of weight
- Buy all the recovery gear – pulleys, tree protectors, extension straps and a blanket are minimum. Also don’t forget gloves
Once you have selected and fitted your new winch make sure you give it a test run before you head out bush. Its also good to do this before each trip as often you can be surprised that something doesn’t work or is seized and you are now stuck with no winch!
Now that you are out and about and you get stuck you can safely use your winch to recover your vehicle.
Here are some tips to getting yourself out safely –
- Get all the gear out – check and set up for your recovery
- Clear obstacles and dirt as much as possible and use recovery boards etc. to help lessen the load on the winch (by giving the vehicle a clear path to extract from)
- Identify and correctly operate the clutch on the winch
- Unwind the winch cable being careful not to roll off the end of the drum (always leave a good 3-4 loops on the drum)
- Use a tree protector if winching from a tree
- When possible use a snatch block (pulley) to lessen the load on the recovery equipment. Run the cable back to the vehicle in this case
- Add a weight/blanket to the winch line between the recovery point and half way so that if the cable was to snap it can’t fly back at the recovery vehicle
- Make sure everyone stands well back – at least 2 times the cable length is a good distance
- Use a friend to spot for you to make sure you aren’t winching yourself into a worse situation
- Short burts are best on the winch – 10 seconds on 10 seconds off – will prevent your winch from overheating
- Vehicle should be in drive or gear but avoid spinning the wheels as this often will cause the vehicle to slip or dig in deeper
A few things you should never do when using a winch –
- Never walk over a winch line under tension
- Never jerk the cable
- Never attach to anything that might snap or fail
- Careful not to let the winch cable roll over itself when you are winding it back in after use
- Never use damaged equipment or the wrong equipment with a winch
When used correctly a winch is a very safe recovery device that will help you when you run out of available grip.