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A reliable truck winch that’s built to last. Cable Winch
A strong winch with a fully waterproof solenoid .
A low-cost winch with good weatherproofing.
A reliable truck winch is an essential tool for those who regularly drive off-road or in icy or muddy conditions. It is often the most effective tool for recovering stuck vehicles, making it a popular accessory for truck owners.
This guide explains what to look for in a truck winch , so you can find the perfect option for your vehicle. We recommend several of the highest-rated truck winches and explain what makes them stand alone.
For many, even those who regularly drive off-road , a winch is a rarely used tool. For this reason, it can be tempting to pick the cheapest option. However, when you really need a winch , you’ll want to be sure you’re using a high-quality product that won’t fail.
When selecting a winch , several important details to consider are winch capacity, power source, and cable type.
In general, the higher the capacity of your winch , the better. However, high-capacity winches are large and expensive. As a general rule of thumb, you should pick a winch that has a capacity of at least twice the weight of your truck.
Most truck winches are electric, but some are hydraulic-powered. An electric truck winch is easier to install and uses your truck’s battery for power. These can be energy-intensive and will drain your truck’s battery with extended use.
A hydraulic winch uses a hydraulic system for power. These are more powerful and durable than electric winches . However, they are also often more expensive and difficult to set up. For the occasional winch, a hydraulic winch may not be necessary.
Winch cables are either synthetic or steel. Most people agree that synthetic cable is generally the better choice. Synthetic rope is lighter and stronger than steel cable . Steel cables can also fray, and are more dangerous should they snap.
That said, steel cable is more abrasion-resistant than synthetic cable, meaning it is less likely to deteriorate from friction (should your winch rub against rocks or other objects). It is also more vulnerable to UV rays. Another disadvantage of synthetic cable is that it is more prone to tangling when not spooled tightly.
Whichever winch you choose, it will last longer if properly maintained. This means lubricating where necessary and ensuring all bolts and connectors are fully tightened, especially before use. Whenever you return from an adventure, be sure to fully clean your winch , clearing away any dirt or water that could cause corrosion.
Winches are useful recovery tools, but they aren’t the only means to rescue a stuck vehicle. Some equipment, such as snatch blocks and soft shackles , are intended to be used with a truck winch to increase its efficiency and power. Some equipment to consider includes:
The Warn VR EVO winch comes in several models to fit most trucks. The 8,000.0-pound model is good for everyday pulls and regular light duty. The 12,000.0-lb. model can be used with 1.0-ton pickups. Each Warn truck winch is built to high standards and features a planetary gear train and waterproof construction.
Warn believes in its products, and this winch is backed by a lifetime warranty for mechanical parts, and a seven-year warranty for the electrical components.
Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 1,400 ratings
Warn has a strong reputation evident in its high Amazon review scores. Most praise the brand (and this winch in particular) for its strength and reliability. Many like the look, and customers say this winch is easy to install.
“This is my second Warn winch . My first served me for years on my old Jeep. Once my new rig arrived this was at the top of my mod list. Warn products are bulletproof. “
Some have noted difficulty using the included controller. They claim the button must be pressed very hard, and reviewers point out that it feels cheaply made.
The Champion Power Equipment Winch Kit comes with several useful winch accessories , including a snatch black and a speed mount. The speed mount makes it easy to transfer your winch between the front and rear of your vehicle. It’s also useful if you remove your winch for storage when not in use.
This truck winch uses a three-stage planetary gear system and can generate a line speed of up to 3.9 ft. per minute under a full load. While it is backed by a two-year warranty , this is short relative to some of the other best truck winches .
Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 4,700 ratings
Many reviewers comment on how easy it is to install this winch . The instructions are clear, and the wiring is effectively color-coded. Owners also say this winch is powerful and that Champion provides excellent customer service when things go wrong.
“Twice I have had to use Champion service and both times with excellent results. Once under warranty and another on [a] 10-year-old generator, and both times I got great service above and beyond expectations.”
Some question the cable quality, suggesting that the cable be replaced with a synthetic alternative. Another common issue regards the remote, which doesn’t always work well.
The Warn Zeon Platinum 12 is designed for those who need a truck winch designed for heavy use. The corrosion-resistant aluminum construction helps keep this winch in shape, and like other Warn winches , the Zeon Platinum is backed by a lifetime warranty for mechanical parts and a seven-year warranty for electric parts.
This fast-pulling winch has a line speed of up to 44.0 ft. per minute. One downside of this powerful 6.0-HP motor is that it requires at least a 650.0 CCA battery to power, so may not be compatible with all vehicles. The size of this winch can also make it difficult to front-mount on certain vehicles.
Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 120 ratings
Users are impressed by the Zeon Platinum’s exceptional pull speed and durability. The waterproof and corrosion-resistant components are one reason many decide to purchase Warn truck winches .
“Warns are pricey but this is my second one in 30 years. I got the Zenon Platinum [because it is] waterproof. I tend to go in a lot of water. Warns are very reliable and probably the best winches ever.”
A recurring complaint regards the included wireless remote control . The battery reportedly drains very quickly (even when not in use), and many people have said it was dead by the time they needed to use it.
The Smittybilt X20 is a good alternative for those who don’t want to break the bank with a Warn truck winch . Smittybilt winches are reliable and also backed by an exceptional warranty (lifetime for mechanical parts, five years for electrical parts).
The 500.0-amp solenoid that powers the X20 is completely waterproof, making this a rugged pick. Another useful piece of technology packed into this truck winch is the inductive braking system, which helps with heat reduction and will keep your winch in working order for longer.
Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 2,400 ratings
Happy reviewers point out that this winch is easy to install, thanks in part to clear instructions. This winch works for most people, who complement its strong capacity and quick line speed .
“This is my second Smittybilt X20 winch . They are made well, look great[,] and are extremely durable!”
The biggest common issue that reviewers have with the X20 is that the wireless function doesn’t work very well. The range of the remote is short, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all.
Superwinch offers another lower-cost alternative to Warn. These winches are also reliable, and the solenoid is housed in a weather-sealed casing. Like Warn, Superwinch guarantees its products with a lifetime warranty on mechanical parts and a seven-year warranty for electrical parts.
The stainless steel construction also adds to the Tiger Shark ’s durability, and the powerful, 5.2-HP motor makes for a quick line speed . Also, this appears to be one of the few truck winches where customers don’t have anything negative to say about the remote control, which is robust and works well.
Amazon Review Score: 4.4 out of 5 based on over 250 ratings
Many praise Superwinch for the long-lasting reliability of its products. A number of reviewers report years of consistent performance from their Tiger Shark winches .
“[I] love [ Superwinch ] winches . Just pulled an SUV out of a 6[-ft.] ditch with the receiver mounted TShark on the Dodge.”
Some have commented about quality control, however. It’s suggested that you inspect your winch before installing it to check for missing or loose components. Another complaint is that this winch can get very hot.
Finding the right winch depends largely on your intended use and budget. For many, a simple yet reliable winch is all that’s required. Even if it’s a seldom-used piece of equipment, it’s important that a truck winch doesn’t fail when you do need it.
We think that Warn generally manufactures the most reliable truck winches , but brands like Champion Power Equipment, Smittybilt , and Superwich also make highly reliable truck winches .
To select the five truck winches in this review, our team searched retailers such as Amazon, RealTruck, and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at factors like customer ratings, prices, superlatives, and Prime shipping eligibility.
Each year, we review over 1,000 auto products. Our team of product experts thoroughly researches top products and tests items on real vehicles when possible before making our recommendations.
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Typically, you’ll want to get a winch that is rated for twice the weight of your truck. In general, the more powerful the winch , the better. However, make sure to choose something that isn’t too big and fits on your truck. A more powerful winch will also cost more.
A truck winch is worth it for truckers that often go off-roading . If you regularly find yourself stuck, or come across others that are stuck, a winch is an invaluable vehicle recovery tool. Most truck owners, however, will likely never need, or rarely need, a winch .
Truck winches are often used to help recover stuck vehicles that have either been trapped in a ditch or difficult terrain. However, there are a variety of other uses for truck winches such as towing or repositioning heavy equipment. Winches are useful in any situation where you need to pull something with great force.
The largest truck winches top out at around 25,000.0-lb. pulling capacity. Other types of winches (not attached to trucks) can have a much greater pulling capacity.
At best, a 10,000.0-lb. winch can pull around 6,500.0 lbs. Winch strength can vary depending on your setup and you can effectively double winch power by using a double line pull and a snatch block .
*Data accurate at time of publication.
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