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The best off-roading trips are adventurous — which means you should prepare yourself for any problem that occurs out in the bush. Off-road terrain is naturally rough, and your vehicle will get stuck somewhere along the way. To get it free, you can either bring along several stout friends to push, or you can install a winch mounted to a Smittybilt winch plate. Installing a winch will also help if you want to pull your vehicle up a steep grade or climb a few rock formations.
For most off-road vehicles, the best place to mount a winch is to the front bumper or frame rail. This will provide you with plenty of power using the vehicle’s forward gears to gain traction and get rolling. If the vehicle will be used primarily as a tow vehicle, or a vehicle that assists in freeing other stranded off-roaders, mount the winch to the rear bumper or frame rail. This mount point will allow your vehicle to pull other vehicles more efficiently.
Select the best mounting location for your winch, either on the front or the rear of the vehicle. Center the winch plate and bolt it into place. Install the winch to the winch plate, then run the electrical wiring harness to the fuse block and ground plane of the vehicle. If your winch has an integrated electronic trigger, you do not have to wire the winch into your vehicle’s electrical system. Test the winch’s motor to ensure that it runs both forward and backward. Extend the steel cable out completely during the test, and inspect it for signs of wear or fraying. When running the winch motor backward, make sure that the cable completely wraps back into the winch’s housing evenly, without crimps or bends.
If your vehicle gets stuck in mud or loose sand and you can’t get traction, a winch attached to a fixed object can get the vehicle free. Make sure that the object is either heavier than the vehicle, or that it is permanently fixed to the ground. Such objects include trees, buildings, concrete fixtures, or heavy rock formations. If no object is nearby, use a set of steel anchor points that you place into the ground. Do not wrap the steel cable around an anchor or object. Place a nylon strap around the object, then hook the steel cable to the strap.
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