Got Trouble With A Winch? Check These Troubleshooting Tips!


A winch bumper can be a lifesaver when you’re out on the trail and end up stuck; however, if your winch fails to work for you, then you’ve really got problems.

Fortunately, winches are fairly simple contraptions and there’s only so much that can go wrong with them.

See the possible symptoms here and learn some troubleshooting tips so you can figure out what’s wrong and get your winch working again when you need it most!

Runs Slowly Or With Low Power

A safe recovery depends on a strong winch that can get the job done.

If your winch is running but seems weak or runs very slowly, you could have a few different problems.

A weak battery or weak charging system is most likely the problem; you could also have a poor cable connection to the battery.

Test the battery and charging to make sure the cables are on correctly.

Only Runs In One Direction

The direction of the winch is controlled by two parts: the motor solenoid and the winch control.

If either of those go bad, you could lose the ability to switch the direction the drum runs in.

Sometimes the solenoid may only be stuck and you can get it working again by disconnecting the contacts and applying a current to it to make it run.

You can also test the remote control the same way to see if it’s defective; a defective solenoid or remote control must be repaired to get the winch fully functioning again.

Motor Gets Extremely Hot

Winching is hard on the winch motor and drum; while it is natural for both to heat up some, overheating is usually due to overuse.

If your winch starts heating up, stop and give it time to cool down.

Runs But the Drum Does Not Turn

This symptom usually happens when the winch motor clutch is disengaged.

If you start winching and the drum doesn’t turn, make sure the clutch is engaged.

If the clutch is engaged and the drum still does not turn, the winch should be taken apart to diagnose the problem whether it has to do with the drum, the clutch, or some other part.

Drum Will Not Freespool

A drum that fails to freespool is usually caused by one of three things: the motor clutch is not disengaged, the ring gear retainer cap screws are in too tight, or the winch is mounted unevenly on your winch bumper and the drum is rubbing on something.

First make sure the clutch is disengaged; if it is, explore the other two possibilities to get the drum turning freely.

Will Not Run At All

If your winch motor will not run at all, there are a number of causes you’ll have to explore to figure out why.

===> Check All Connections - Make sure they are well connected and your battery is strong.

===> Test Solenoid and Remote Control - These parts can become defective and prevent the motor from operating.

Since these are the two main parts that make the motor run, if they are working and the motor still will not run, the whole motor could be defective.

Won’t Run After Getting Wet

Though they are made to work in all sorts of conditions, a winch that gets fully submerged may not work once it comes out of the water; it might even happen after using a pressure washer on it.

The problem is usually temporary and the winch will usually run again after it’s dried out.

Once it’s running again, run it a little bit without a load to dry out the windings.

Know Your Winch So You Don’t Get Stranded

The whole purpose of having a winch bumper on your truck with a powerful winch is so it’s there for you when you need it.

If you know how to troubleshoot it, you may be able to fix the problem in minutes.

In either case, understanding how your winch works and how to tell which part is acting up can save you time and money in getting it working again!

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