By Steve Schoenfelder
Off-road enthusiasts change the oil in their rigs, grease u-joints, check fluid levels and when they hear a clunk or pop, figure out what it is and fix it. This is doing routine maintenance and repair. What about their winch? Have you ever heard of doing maintenance on your winch? I would say most guys haven’t. Here are some tips I have learned over the years that will make sure your winch works every time you really need it!
Battery – This is really the heart of your winch. If power from the battery is having trouble getting to the winch, its performance is suffering or your winch is dead. Check your battery terminals for corrosion, make sure they are clean and tight. If you see corrosion, remove the terminal and clean everything, this gets rid of hidden corrosion too. (I know this one all too well, a few years back we tried winching a dead car on a trailer with the winch on my rig, we pulled about 5 feet and the winch quit. The battery terminals look clean. We checked everything. Finally I removed both terminals from the battery posts, cleaned the small amount of hidden corrosion I saw, and then the winch worked great!).
Winch Motor Connections – Make sure the winch motor cable connections are clean and tight but don’t let the motor terminals turn when tightening. WARN winches have the battery ground connection on the bottom of the motor, don’t forget to check this too.
Remote Control – Check your remote cable for kinks or damage. Also, look at the plug and socket, and check for damaged terminals or corrosion. Clean or replace parts as required.
Winch Cable (Wire rope or Synthetic Rope) – Look for kinks, frays, broken strands or any other damage that could affect the ropes strength. Replace as required.
Stretch The Rope – Any time is a good time to stretch the rope onto the drum. Stretching the rope requires you to spool the rope onto the drum under tension, evenly. Doing this gives you a chance to inspect the rope, and also stow it properly so it’s ready for the next pull. Also, you’re using the winch, warming the motor and lubricating the gears. Warming the motor dries any moisture that may have accumulated over time.
Every few months it’s a good idea to run your winch for a couple minutes, this lubricates the geartrain, and again, warms the motor to dry out any moisture that may have built up over time from condensation. The winches gear train is lubricated for life of the winch so it does not need maintenance unless your winch is submerged.
The worst thing you can do is let your winch sit for very long periods and then expect it to work perfectly. I always try to find an excuse to use my winch, as soon as It warms up a bit outside, there is a hedge needing to be removed, so I’ll put the winch to good use then.