No matter if you buy a WARN winch with steel or synthetic rope, for a truck or powersports vehicle, one critical step you need to take upon installation is stretching the winch rope.
Stretching winch rope is important because you need to make sure the rope is put evenly on the drum. If you just simply wind it on there without the rope under tension, you run the risk for the rope bunching up on top of itself, and when you go to pull, the rope can crush itself leading to potential rope damage.
To prevent this, you’ll need to wind the rope with some tension on it. It’s easier to do this with two people, but it is possible to do it by yourself. Here’s how to do it:
Choose a flat and level location that is large enough to run out almost the entire length of winch rope.
Disengage the clutch. Grasp hook strap and spool out the winch rope to the last 5 wraps on the drum (10 wraps if synthetic rope). Once the winch rope is spooled out, engage clutch.
Now attach the hook end of the rope to a suitable anchor point and return to the vehicle.
Back the vehicle away from the anchor point until there is very little slack on the winch rope. Set the parking brake, place the vehicle in gear or park, and turn the vehicle off. If you’re by yourself, exit the vehicle. If not, you can stay in the rig.
While standing about 8 ft. (2.44m) away from the winch (or from from inside the cab if you have a helper), power-in the winch until all the slack is wound onto the drum.
With gloves on, hold tension on the winch rope with one hand; carefully push the winch rope to the side of the drum the winch rope is attached to so there are no gaps between each coil on the drum. Be sure to check that the winch rope is winding off the bottom of the drum or the brake will not function properly.
The following steps should be done using two people for proper safety. If you attempt to tension your winch rope alone be sure to always set the parking brake, place the transmission in gear or park, and turn the vehicle off every time you exit the vehicle to inspect the winch rope.
The driver of the vehicle should operate the winch.
Instruct your assistant to stand to the side of the vehicle and away from the winch rope. NOTE: Your assistant should signal you if the winch rope is winding correctly or incorrectly by watching it move across the fairlead as the winch rope is powered in.
Start the vehicle and place the transmission in neutral. Then release the parking brake while applying moderate brake pedal pressure. Power-in the winch rope and start to winch in. After winching in for about 6 ft. (2m), stop winching.
Slowly let of the brake pedal and apply the parking brake. This will insure there is no load on the winch rope.
Place the transmission in park or in gear and turn the vehicle off.
Exit the vehicle and inspect the winch to make sure that the winch rope is being evenly wound onto the winch drum and not sinking into the lower layer. If the winch rope is sinking, power-out the winch rope by pushing the power-out button on the remote control and repeat this step from the beginning with more brake pedal pressure.
When you are convinced the winch rope is winding onto the winch drum properly, repeat steps until the vehicle is within 6 ft. (2 m) of the winch anchor. Once within 6 ft. (2 m), slowly let up off of the brake pedal and then apply the parking brake. This will ensure that there is no load on the winch rope. Then place the transmission in park or in gear and turn the vehicle off.
That’s it. Now your winch is ready to pull and you can GO PREPARED!