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How To Install Winch On ATV -The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide

If you go off-road a lot, or live in a snowy area, you definitely know the pain of your car being stuck in the mud or snow. Most of the time, it happens at the worst possible time, and in the worst possible place. Of course, leaving your car is not an option, so you have to figure out a way to move it out, or simply call for help and wait. If this has ever happened to you, we feel for you. With that said, we are going to offer you the ultimate solution for these scenarios. Installing a winch on your ATV. Winches are used to pull heavy objects, which makes them a great solution for pulling ATVs out of any mess.

Get a Mounting Plate

Before installing an ATV winch, you have to install a mounting plate first. Most ATVs do not come designed with a spot to hold a winch, so you need to make some modification. There are dozens of winch mounting plates in the market, and you need to ensure you choose one that suits your car. Consider what type of ATV you have in terms of make and model. The plate has to be strong enough to withstand the force that will come with using the winch. You also need to ensure your plate is compatible with the winch, and your car bumper.

Most winches do not work with stock bumpers, because these bumpers are not created for that kind of force. Most stock bumpers are not even created with a space to install a winch. Go through the parts catalogue where you ordered your winch from, and get a bumper that will be compatible with it. Some manufacturers actually sell mounting systems that include a customized mounting plate, and bumper in one package.

Tools Required when Installing a Winch

  • Wrench
  • Ratchet
  • Voltage meter
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Bolts
  • Flat washer

What’s Included in the Winch Kit

  • The winch
  • Hand held remote
  • The solenoid
  • Rocker switch
  • Socket assembly

How to Install the Winch

  • When you have all the materials, you will start by installing the mounting plate. The winch and the mounting plate come with specific installation instructions and warnings, which you should go through carefully before you begin.
  • First, you need to remove the plate at your front bumper by unscrewing the bolts with the screwdriver. There are about four bolts in front, and four at the sides. (Keep them well as you will be using them again)
  • Remove the front plastic fascia by removing the bolts as well
  • Attach the roller fairlead using bolts, nuts and lock washers to hold them in place
  • Install the plate and secure it in place, Ensure you move any wires or hoses while at it to prevent damaging your ATV. Using an adhesive while securing the plate keeps the bolts in place.
  • Mount your winch on the plate, and fasten the bolts. Ensure it sits right before securing it to the bumper.
  • Attach the clevis hook to your cable loop
  • The winch line needs to have an obstructed path if it’s going to work, so disengage the gear train, and pull the line a few feet to be sure. Do not forget to engage it after the test.

Wiring the Winch

Winch systems use a contractor, and you need to find a suitable place for it. Most people choose to install the contractor under the driver’s seat, so you can do that as well. The contractor is a relay box that serves as a central wiring point for the winch. You will have to drill a few places to get the wires to the right spot.

After this, you need to mount the winch control switches. The steering mechanism would be a good place to install them for easy access. Some winches are designed to use a switch that connects to the contractor, and the ignition switch. However, when it’s connected to the ignition, you can only run your winch when your ATV power is switched on. Use the voltage meter to locate the hot lead of the ignition, and once you find it, use it to connect to the winch switch. The other switch wires connect to the contractor.

ATV Winch Wiring Tips

​The Winch Solenoid

The winch solenoid is extremely important because it serves as the safety component in delivering power from your battery to your winch. This is the only disconnect you will get between your power source and your winch. You need to mount the solenoid as close as you can to the battery, but in a place that will be dry at all times. You also need to ensure that you install it far from any metal parts that might grind against the electric contacts.

Wire Routing

You need to be careful when connecting wires from the winch solenoid to your winch, and when running the wires from the battery to the winch. Ensure you keep the wires away from sharp edges and rusted metal. It’s easy to wear down the wire insulation on smooth metal if you factor in dirt and mud.

Winch Connections

Making correct connections is just as important. Most winches come with color-coded lugs that help reduce mistakes. Typical winches do not need fast tightening because they are secured with lock washers. Over tightening them is never a good idea because they result to a broken circuit, and essentially a useless winch. You can use a small amount of adhesive, like silicone to the lug, which keeps the nuts from backing off.

Pretensioning the Winch Wire

Finally, you need to ensure that your wire is spooled tightly on the winch drum. Some winches have the cable wrapped around the drum, while others do not. If your winch wire is already on the drum when you purchase it, unspool a part of it. Attach your cable to a heavy object, then start the winch, and the wire will start to spool up correctly. If you got the winch without the wire wrapped around the drum, then just attach it and follow these steps. Carry out this process until you are sure the cable is stretched out adequately.

Jose Wagner

I'm Jose Wagner, a mechanic who loves exploring & writing about new tools and contraptions which make everyone’s lives a whole lot easier. I have been in the manufacturing industry for several years and possess sound mechanical knowledge and diagnostic skills.

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