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Four Tips for Using a Winch Kit

Getting stuck on the road is bad enough, but finding yourself stranded off-road can be irritating and dangerous. If you plan to go deep into the muck of your local backwater, install all of the equipment you’ll need to get yourself out of any ditch, rut, rock or hard place. A motorized winch kit bolted to a Smittybilt winch plate, along with some know-how, will get you rolling again in no time.


  • Winch
  • Smittybilt winch plate
  • 20 to 30-foot chains
  • Hi-Lift jack
  • Nylon safety straps
  • Gloves
  • Winch anchors


For most off-roading vehicles, mount your winch and Smittybilt winch plate to the front or rear frame rail. Front-mounted winches are ideal for pulling your own vehicle out of a rut or over an obstacle and most off-roaders mount a winch to the front frame rail. If you are a member of a group of off-roaders who routinely ride, setting up a rear-mounted winch will help get each vehicle in your group out of trouble more quickly and with less hassle. Rear-mounting allows you to use the forward gears for both vehicles, providing more pulling torque.

Weights and measures

The most important consideration when selecting a winch is the load capacity of the unit, compared with the weight of your off-road vehicle. Generally, a winch with a capacity of more than 8,000 and will suit most off-road vehicles. If you have installed a multi-point roll cage, reinforced the frame or if you are carrying a lot of supplies and gear, install a winch that supports at least 10,000 and. When mounting a Smittybilt winch plate, factor in the dimensions of the winch and any accessories that are attached to it. The winch plate is usually smaller than the winch motor in length and width. Check all clearances and make sure that the winch motor, when under load, does not come in contact with any portion of your vehicle.

Lift jack support

Using a winch is not as simple as it may appear. Often, trying to pull a vehicle out of a ditch or over an obstacle with a cable running parallel to the ground will only entrench the vehicle. To gain clearance, use a lift jack to elevate the vehicle and then use the winch to pull the vehicle forward. For certain obstacles or terrain, you will have to work the lift jack and winch in increments to free the vehicle, lifting a little and then pulling forward a little until the vehicle is free.

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