The company that needs a new machine tool, and hasn’t bought it, is already paying for it. – Charlie Munger
This quote came to mind (perhaps oddly!) when evaluating the best ATV winch for powersports enthusiasts.
While they may seem expensive, if you need one, the sooner you get it, the better.
I’ve complied and ranked the best ATV winches below.
All based on customer reviews, website information, personal preference, and brand reputation.
Top 4 ATV Winches on the Market
Warn VRX Powersport Winch
This Warn winch is a beauty and has been warmly welcomed by many ATV owners.
Its out of the box with a 50 foot steel cable, but you can also opt for a fully synthetic rope if that’s what you prefer.
It has a durable metal construction – and a cable sleeve to protect it from abrasion when in use.
This fully waterproof model has a load holding mechanical brake, and a three stage planetary gear train.
Winch users can enjoy a choice of 2,500, 3,500, and 4,500 lbs. pulling capacity. Plus, each VRX has a limited lifetime warranty.
3 Year Warranty
Mechanical dynamic braking system.
Mounting Kit Required
Not Ideal for heavy duty ATV towing.
SuperATV 4500 Lb Winch
The SuperATV brand is a highly recognized and reputable brand in powersports. So they have our trust that they can produce a high quality ATV winch.
First an foremost, it boasts a pulling capacity of 4,500 pounds. Which is as much as you’d want in any ATV or UTV.
It has a permanent magnet motor with 1.4 horsepower pulling a 50 foot synthetic rope (steel winch rope unavailable).
It has a dynamic brake. You can lock the drum when a weight is mounting plate is in use.
A mounting plate is required for installation (unless you have a winch ready bumper).
Ideally, this waterproof ATV winch has a waterproof body and is great for snow plowing.
Exceptional pulling capacity (highest on the list)
Wireless remote control system
Permanent magnet motors
Awkward winch mounting plate
Tusk ATV Winch
A pulling capacity of 2,500 and 3500 pounds.
A steel cable of 50 feet which which can be easily mounted onto the ATV bumber.
Although I have a personal inclination towards the Hawse fairlead paired with synthetic rope, the roller fairlead provided does an impeccable job.
The pricing of Tusk winches is competitive, primarily since they exclude a remote switch.
It’s perfect if you, like me, don’t feel the pressing need for one or have a knack for misplacing remote key fobs.
From my circle, individuals with older models of Suzuki, Polaris, Honda, and Yamaha ATVs have seamlessly integrated Tusk winches.
Tusk winches offer versatile pulling capacities and broad ATV brand compatibility.
They come packed with essential features, including water-resistant components.
Some users might miss the convenience of a remote switch.
The default roller fairlead might not align with everyone’s preference.
Superwinch Terra Series Winch
Like the VRX above, it is available in, you guessed it 2,500, 3,500, and 4,500 lbs. pulling capacities.
The best ATV Winches are extremely durable, and this is no different.
The winch drum and casing comes with an interchangeable synthetic or steel cable option to suit your preference.
This winch excels in harsh conditions and due to the strength of its motors.
Again you have the choice of the synthetic winch rope or the steel rope.
Its extra wide gears help to ensure it has an evenly distributed load.
It boasts a majority 5 star review at 72% on the Superwinch website.
Website ships out usually within 2 business days
Extremely durable product
Impressive feet per minute line speed
Key Features to Look for in the Best ATV Winch
Navigating the world of ATV winches can be a maze, but I’m here to guide you through it! Here’s a breakdown of the top features I think you should keep an eye out for.
Prioritize this: ensure your winch can handle at least 1.5 times the weight of your ATV. So, basically, if your ATV weighs around 400 pounds, aim for a winch that’s rated for about 600 pounds.
Trust me, it makes a difference!
Type of Motor
There are two main types to consider: permanent magnet (PM) and series wound (SW). From what I’ve seen, PM motors work well for those who won’t use their winch daily.
They’re fairly affordable too. But if you plan on frequent use, the SW motor might be your best bet.
Cable vs. Synthetic Rope
The age-old debate! Steel cables are sturdy and hold their own, but they can be prone to rust.
On the other side, synthetic ropes are light and, in my opinion, a bit safer. However, they can wear down faster in direct sunlight.
I always opt for synthetic.
Length of Cable or Rope
Don’t go overboard with length. If there’s too much cable or rope, it might mess with the drum. I recommend picking just what you need.
Remote Control Options
If convenience is your thing, you might lean towards a wireless remote. But I advise ensuring it’s super reliable. Wired controllers, while old school, have always been dependable in my book.
Mounting and Integration
How will this winch fit on your ATV? Check if it comes with a universal mount.
The last thing you want is a tricky installation. I’ve been there, and it’s not fun!
Durability and Weather Resistance
You want a winch that can handle the elements! I always opt for ones resistant to rain, snow, and mud.
A corrosion-resistant finish is also something I advise looking for.
Speed and Power Source
Think about the speed you need. Winches that pull faster might need more power, so ensure your ATV’s battery can keep up.
Some come with a dual-speed feature, which I think is quite handy.
Safety should always be a priority. I recommend features like automatic brakes, a free-spooling clutch, and overload protection. These can be game-changers in the field.
Price and Warranty
Lastly, I think it’s essential to ensure you get value for your money. Sometimes, spending a bit more upfront on a quality winch with a robust warranty can save headaches later.
Benefits of Investing in a Quality ATV Winch
When it comes to the very best ATV winches, I truly believe you get what you pay for.
Investing in a top-tier winch might seem like a splurge, but trust me, the benefits are compelling.
Here’s why I think splashing out on a quality winch is a smart move.
1. Enhanced Safety
Safety first, always! Quality winches come packed with features like automatic brakes and overload protection. I recommend not compromising on these; they’re essential for both your safety and that of your ATV.
2. Superior Performance
From my perspective, the performance leap you get with a quality winch is undeniable. Everything, from the smoother operations to efficient power use, is just… better. Basically, you’re getting the best bang for your buck!
3. Increased Durability
Quality really shines through when it comes to durability. These winches are fairly resistant to corrosion, have sealed motors, and usually feature stronger ropes or cables. That’s fewer trips for repairs or replacements for you.
4. Cost-Effective in the Long Run
Though the upfront cost might sting a bit, I advise thinking long-term. Over the years, the savings from reduced maintenance and replacements will add up. It’s the whole “spend now, save later” concept!
5. Versatility in Complex Situations
I think this is where quality winches truly stand out. Whether you’re in a tight spot or a challenging terrain, a top-notch winch offers the versatility to handle it all.
6. Peace of Mind
For me, there’s an unmatched peace of mind knowing my equipment won’t let me down. With a premium winch, you’re basically ensuring fewer surprises on your adventures.
7. Enhanced Resale Value
Down the line, if you ever think of selling your ATV, having a quality winch can sweeten the deal. I’ve seen many prospective buyers who are willing to pay a bit more for ATVs kitted out with the best gear.
8. Fewer Interruptions
Who likes halting their adventure for equipment issues? Not me! With a quality winch, you’re looking at smooth operations and uninterrupted escapades.
9. Broader Warranty Coverage
I always recommend checking the warranty, and with premium winches, you often get more extensive coverage. It’s basically an added safety net for your investment!
10. Environmentally Friendly
In my opinion, choosing products that last longer is a nod towards being eco-conscious. By reducing the need for frequent replacements, you’re doing your bit for the planet.
Installation and Maintenance Tips
Getting the most out of your ATV winch involves not just choosing a high-quality product but also ensuring it’s correctly installed and maintained.
From my observations and what I’ve learned, here are some tips I think will help you ace the installation and maintenance game:
- Read the Manual! Always start by thoroughly reading the user manual. It contains specific instructions and guidelines tailored to your winch model.
- Choose the Right Spot I recommend placing the winch in a location that doesn’t obstruct airflow to the ATV’s radiator. Ensure it’s centrally aligned for balanced pulling.
- Use Proper Tools Avoid shortcuts. Have all the necessary tools on hand before you begin the installation process. It makes everything smoother.
- Secure Electrical Connections Ensure all electrical connections are tight. I advise using dielectric grease to prevent corrosion.
- Test Before Actual Use Once installed, give your winch a test run in a controlled environment to ensure everything is working as it should.
- Regular Inspection At regular intervals, especially after intense use, inspect the cable or synthetic rope for fraying, kinks, or other damage. If you spot any, it might be time for a replacement.
- Clean After Muddy Adventures Mud and dirt can hamper the performance of your winch. After a muddy outing, I recommend cleaning the winch, especially the cable or rope, to prolong its life.
- Lubricate Moving Parts To ensure smooth operation, periodically lubricate the moving parts of your winch. This reduces wear and tear and enhances performance.
- Check Electrical Connections I can’t stress this enough: regularly check the winch’s electrical connections for any signs of corrosion or loose wires. A simple check can prevent potential malfunction.
- Protect from the Elements If your ATV is stored outdoors, consider a winch cover. It can shield your winch from harsh weather conditions, prolonging its lifespan.
- Retighten Bolts Periodically Vibration during rides can sometimes loosen bolts. I advise checking and retightening them from time to time.
- Store Cable/Rope Properly When not in use, ensure the cable or rope is wound evenly and not too tightly on the drum. This avoids undue stress and prevents kinks or overlaps.
- Replace Worn-Out Parts If you spot any component showing significant wear, don’t wait for it to break. Replacing it proactively can save you from bigger hassles down the line.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an ATV Winch
Selecting the right ATV winch isn’t just about getting the best brand or the most expensive one; it’s about finding the one that fits your specific needs.
Through my observations and discussions, I’ve noticed several common missteps people make when choosing a winch. Here’s my rundown of mistakes to sidestep.
1. Ignoring Load Capacity
One of the biggest mistakes is opting for a winch that doesn’t have adequate load capacity. Always ensure that the winch can handle at least 1.5 times the weight of your ATV. This provides a safe margin for pulling and lifting.
2. Assuming All Winches Fit All ATVs
Not every winch will fit every ATV model. Before making a purchase, check the compatibility of the winch with your specific ATV model. It can save you from installation headaches.
3. Neglecting the Type of Motor
There are primarily two types: permanent magnet (PM) and series wound (SW). Each has its pros and cons. Blindly picking one without understanding your usage frequency and needs can lead to regrets.
4. Choosing Cable Over Rope Without Research
Some people default to a steel cable without considering synthetic ropes. Both have their advantages. I recommend assessing your typical terrain and usage before deciding.
5. Overlooking Brand Reputation
While brand isn’t everything, it can be an indicator of quality and customer service. Avoid going for unknown brands without reviews or proven track records.
6. Skimping on Warranty
Not taking note of the warranty can be a pitfall. A good warranty not only indicates a company’s confidence in its product but also ensures you’re covered for unexpected failures.
7. Forgetting About Safety Features
Some might bypass winches with safety features to save money. This is risky! Features like automatic brakes and overload protection are vital for safe operation.
8. Disregarding Speed and Power Source
Picking a winch without considering its speed and power requirements can strain your ATV’s battery. Always check how the winch’s power needs align with your ATV’s battery capacity.
9. Avoiding Professional Installation
If you’re not mechanically inclined, attempting a DIY installation can result in errors. Sometimes, it’s wiser (and safer) to seek professional installation.
10. Not Considering Maintenance Needs
Some winches might require more maintenance than others. Before buying, think about how much upkeep you’re willing to commit to.
11. Being Swayed by Deals Alone
While everyone loves a good deal, basing your decision on price alone can be a misstep. The cheapest option isn’t always the best in terms of functionality and durability.
12. Not Factoring in Future Needs
Your current ATV usage might be light, but what about the future? I advise considering any potential changes in your off-roading habits or terrains before settling on a winch.
Hopefully the above article draws you closer to finding the perfect ATV winch.
Once you figure out the variables, such as winch mounts, steel rope or synthetic, and pulling capacity, you should be happy with any of the above options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best brand of ATV winch?
The best brand of ATV winch often depends on individual preferences, needs, and specific use cases. However, brands like Warn, Superwinch, and Smittybilt are frequently recognized for their quality, durability, and performance in the ATV winch market.
Is a 2500 lb winch enough for ATV?
A 2500 lb winch is generally suitable for many ATVs. Ideally, the winch capacity should be at least 1.5 times the weight of the ATV to ensure safe and effective pulling. For an average-sized ATV, which weighs between 400 to 800 lbs, a 2500 lb winch would typically suffice.
How much will a 2000 lb winch pull?
A 2000 lb winch is designed to safely pull up to 2000 lbs. This figure represents the maximum capacity of the winch. However, factors like the angle of pull, rolling resistance, and ground conditions can influence the actual pulling power required in different situations.
What happens if you overload a winch?
Overloading a winch can result in several issues. It can cause the winch motor to overheat, leading to potential damage or reduced lifespan. The cable or rope may also snap or fray, posing a significant safety hazard. Additionally, overloaded winches may experience reduced performance or fail to operate altogether. Always adhere to the manufacturer’s specified weight limits to ensure safety and longevity of the equipment.