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Winch Maintenance – What To Do When Your Winch Stops Working

 photo by sergeyryzhov via iStock

The winch is one of the most important tools in an overlander’s arsenal. It can help get you out of sticky situations, get your mates out or even mend parts that have been bent on your vehicle. 

The ways a winch can get you back on the road are endless; however, just like any electrical tool it can sometimes act up and stop working.

In this article, we will be going through some winch maintenance tips and advice on what to do if it stops working.

Check the Basics

Smoking Jeep using a winch

 

 photo by avian75 via iStock

Just like any sort of mechanical issue, always check the basics first. If you plug in your winch controller but there is no response from it in either direction or it works intermittently, check that the winch isolator is in the ON position. We have all forgotten to do this; therefore, don’t feel bad if this solves your problem. 

If the isolator doesn’t feel like it’s engaging properly, it can be disassembled and cleaned with some sort of contact cleaner. When separating the two halves be careful not to lose the small spring located inside. 

The inside of the isolator should be clean – if not, do some winch maintenance by spraying it with an electrical contact cleaner. If everything is fine with the isolator check for operation of the winch controller. Make sure the pins aren’t bent or broken while also giving them a good clean. 

For wireless controllers ensure that the battery hasn’t gone flat or missing. 

Your winch connection to the battery should also be tight as winches use heaps of power when under load. If the connections have been loose for a while corrosion might have built underneath. If that is the case, disconnect the battery and scrub the connections with sandpaper and then clean off with contact cleaner. 

Winch Maintenance: Check All Connections

Winch Maintenance

 photo by KaninRoman via iStock

The next step is to check the connections on the winch motor because they can get knocked loose – especially if you have been servicing your vehicle 

As you will be working on a tight space with a wrench you must disconnect power to the winch to avoid shorting out the circuit. 

When you have access to the connections check that they are tight and clean. If not, then tighten them back up or give them a good clean. 

Five-Minute Winch Service

Winch

 photo by marrio31 via iStock

Here is one of the simplest ways to keep your winch in good running order. Once a month when you wash your vehicle, spool the winch all the way out and then back in under tension. This gets everything inside the winch warmed up and prevents things from getting stuck due to not being used. 

When doing this, it is a good opportunity to check the rope for damage and listen to the winch for any weird noises. Keep your vehicle’s engine running to prevent the battery from going flat. 

With these simple checks and winch maintenance tips, you will get your winch running again in case it breaks down when you need it the most. Just like a vehicle though, a well-maintained winch will keep on going for plenty of years!

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