A high-quality winch is essential in preparing the ultimate winch package for your transportation applications, from roadside assistance to towing. With that said, the wrong winch sizing can lead to poor customer service at best, and at worst – catastrophic failure.
With so many options out there, getting the right size that will fit your towing needs can be a challenge. There are many factors to consider, namely how often the winch line will be used and what vehicles it will be installed on.
This guide will help you in sizing your winch properly for your tow truck.
Winches come in a wide range of sizes and capacities. So the first step is to narrow down your pool of choices by matching its pulling strength to your tow truck. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 1.5 to 2 times your vehicle’s weight. A midsize gas-powered truck, for instance, requires anywhere from 9,000 to 9,500-pound strength winch.
A full-size truck requires 12,000 to 12,500 while a bigger one can go up to 16,500, sometimes even 18,000 pounds. If you’re still not certain of the winch capacity, always aim higher. Bigger is better in this case. Not only that but getting a more powerful winch can also extend its lifespan because it’s subjected to less strain.
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Electric vs. Hydraulic
Winches are powered either electrically or hydraulically, the first being the most popular. Electric winches use your vehicle’s battery to power the motor. They usually have better winding speed and can be much easier to install.
In addition to that, they come with a remote control that allows you to keep a safe distance from the winch as well as the vehicle while it’s being towed, which is definitely a compelling advantage.
Since this type of winch draws from your vehicle’s battery, it’s essential that you ensure your tow truck’s battery and alternator can transfer the required amperage to run the winch at full capacity with the headlights on.
On the other hand, hydraulic winches use hydraulic fluid, which is your vehicle’s power steering unit. This means that your tow truck has to be running in order for the winch to operate, which is this type’s biggest downside since electric winches can run even if the vehicle isn’t.
Moreover, hydraulic winches are far more powerful than their electric counterparts and their applications go far beyond the typical vehicle recovery. But because they require some extra plumbing in addition to hydraulic lines, they’re not as versatile and won’t fit on every tow truck.
Steel Cable vs. Synthetic
Steel cable is the most popular option because it’s the most reliable. It’s incredibly sturdy, it can last a very long time, and it’s not easily worn down by friction against rocks. With that said, steel can corrode over time, and due to wear and tear, the cable can sometimes break. When this occurs and it’s under tension, it could lead to serious injury.
Synthetic lines don’t have this issue because they’re a lot lighter and if they do snap, they don’t pack as much potential energy so there is less risk for injury. With that said, synthetic cables easily erode if they’re continuously rubbed against rocks, which means, they’re not as abrasion-resistant as steel line.
If you’re not too experienced, you should consider starting with a steel cable first until you learn how to properly secure the line. You can then move on to a lighter synthetic cable once you become better at minimizing abrasions and handling the cable so there is no unnecessary friction.
Winches are an essential tool for many utility, roadside assistance, and towing applications. As a business owner you want powerful winching service pull after pull. With a range of configurations, pulling capacities, and speeds, it’s critical that you size your respective winch appropriately. Thanks for reading!