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Winch Repair and Troubleshooting

We know how frustrating it can be when your winch won’t work right. But before you take a hammer to it, try working through the troubleshooting steps below to test the winch motor, contactor, and rocker thumb switch. Repairing your electric winch may be as simple as ensuring a proper battery connection or replacing a blown fuse. And if it’s more complicated than that, we’re always here to help.

Note: The troubleshooting flowchart and instructions below apply specifically to ProMark ATV winches with color-coded wiring but may also apply to similar style winches.

Winch Troubleshooting Flowchart

Winch Troubleshooting Flowchart

  1. Testing the Winch Motor

  2. The first step in troubleshooting is to test out the winch motor by connecting a 12 volt battery directly to the power terminals on the winch. Test the motor in both directions. To do this, connect the red wire to the positive (red) battery terminal and the black wire to the negative (black) battery terminal; then test the motor in the other direction by connecting the black wire to the positive battery terminal and the red wire to the negative battery terminal.

    Results

    • If your winch motor works in both directions, the next step is to test the contactor.
    • If your winch motor does not work in both directions, ensure that the problem is not caused by faulty wiring or power source. Check for incorrect or improper wiring, damaged wires, weak battery, and poor battery connection. After ruling out all other causes, repair or replace the motor.
    ATV winch wiring

    ATV winch wiring

  3. Testing the Winch Contactor

  4. The next step is to isolate the contactor by disconnecting the rocker switch to eliminate it as part of the problem.

    With the contactor and winch wired according to the instruction manual, disconnect the black (or red) and green wires leading to the rocker switch. Then take the green wire that is connected to the contactor and touch it to the positive battery (red) post on the contactor (Note: you may need to use an extra piece of wire to make the connection). This should force the winch motor to operate. Repeat with the black rocker switch lead to the positive battery (red) post.

    Results

    • If the winch doesn’t work at all or only works in one direction, the contactor is faulty and needs to be replaced.
    • If the winch motor works in both directions, the contactor is functioning properly. Move to the next step to check the rocker switch wiring.
  5. Testing the Thumb Rocker Switch

  6. There are two possibilities for the rocker switch not working. One is faulty wiring, and the other is a blown fuse. Electric ATV winches draw a lot of power and are capable of blowing fuses. If this is the problem, you may want to consider stepping the fuse up another 5 amps or finding a new power source.

    To check for faulty wiring, connect the switch’s red wire directly to the positive battery terminal of the contactor to make sure that you are getting power to the switch. The red wire coming out of the switch needs a power source to work—either a keyed power source or a ‘hot’ one such as the positive battery terminal. If you spliced the wire into a keyed power source, double check that you spliced into the correct wire by using a voltmeter or test light.

    After you have checked the red wire for a good power source to the switch, you need to check the green and black switch wires for power coming out. Using a voltmeter or test light, touch one end to the green wire connection terminal and the other end of your test light to ground; then push the rocker switch in both directions. Repeat for the rocker switch’s black wire.

    Results

    • If you got a reading off of both wires, reconnect the switch to the contactor and try the motor again. It should work. If not, contact the winch company’s technical service department for further assistance, or consult a qualified repair technician.
    • If you did not get a reading at all or only on one of the wires, the switch is faulty. Replace the rocker switch. If the winch still does not work properly, request technical assistance.

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