Truck winch bumpers are important recovery gear that most off-road trucks really need. Of course, installing one of these is no guarantee of a good recovery. Before attempting to move any truck that is stuck, off-roaders must know exactly what to do - and not do - with their winches during recovery. The biggest mistakes made during vehicle recovery can be the most costly and dangerous.
Do Not Wrap Around A Tree or Boulder Incorrectly
Trees and large boulders are great recovery anchor points, at least they are when used the right way. Never wrap a cable directly around a tree as it could damage the tree. A tree saver - with both ends hooked directly into a D-shackle - is the correct method. This strap will also work well around boulders. The tree or rock should be sturdy enough to act as an anchor and the strap placed as low as possible to avoid pulling the tree down or rolling the boulder over when winching out your off-roading truck.
Do Not Use the Wrong Winch Points On the Truck
Recovery is different than towing. As such, you’ll want to know which frame and secure bumper points on your truck can be used for recovery and which are designed only for towing. Winching from a tow point that isn’t permanently attached to the frame is a disaster waiting to happen. The hook could pull out or break off, dropping the truck and sending the winch cable flying. Never winch from anywhere other than a welded recovery point such as those on aftermarket truck winch bumpers that can support the weight of the truck.
Do Not Use A D-Shackle the Wrong Way
Never sideline a D-shackle when attaching recovery straps to the hook on the winch cable. The strength in the shackle lies in looping the straps on the D part while the cable hook snaps onto the cross pin. Always make sure the cross pin on a shackle is completely screwed in before attempting a recovery. A D-shackle letting go could be disastrous.
Do Not Run Cables or Straps Over Damaging Surfaces
Even the strongest metal cables can become damaged or frayed if they are positioned to drag over rocks, stumps or other obstacles. To avoid this and the potential that the cable or strap could snap, only winch where there is a clear span for the cable or strap. Find another anchor point if necessary.
Do Not Pull At An Angle
Another way to damage the cable or the winch itself is to pull at an angle. Doing so can cause the cable to wrap improperly on the roller or increase the strain on the cable, weakening it. Unless there is no other choice, pull from an anchor point in front of the vehicle even if it means selecting a point that’s further away.
Do Not Winch Without Weighing The Cable Down
A cable or strap that lets go under pressure can be deadly if it hits someone. Reduce the chance of this happening by holding the winch strap or cable down with a winch weight, a heavy blanket or tarp, or even another strap or rope hung over the strap. If it breaks, the weight will prevent it from flying dangerously through the air where it could hit and injure someone.
Do Not Winch Without Gloves
Ropes, cables, hooks and other winch parts can cause burns and more serious injuries to the hands. Always wear a pair of heavy leather gloves when setting up and activating a winch. Never grab anything with just your bare hands.
Most importantly, don’t ever rush through a vehicle recovery. Understand the dangers of using the wrong procedures and take the time to recognize and correct them. Recovery equipment like winch truck bumpers make getting back on the trail easier; however, they can be deadly if not used correctly. Do no risk becoming a casualty. Learn how to winch the right way.