1. Don’t spool out all of the cable.
Always keep at least 5 wraps on the drum. Leaving a few wraps on the drum helps anchor the winch cable in place. The rope attachment to the drum is not designed to hold a load by itself.
Expert Tip: If your cable is too short, choose a closer anchor point, use a longer tree strap or chain, or hook up a cable extension.
2. Avoid continuous side pulls.
They place a strain on your recovery winch and allow the rope to pile up on one end of the drum. If the rope gets pinched in the winch housing, your rope or winch could be damaged.
Expert Tip: As much as possible, rig up the pull in a direct line from the stuck vehicle. Use a pulley block to redirect the pull if needed.
3. Avoid shock loads.
Use the winch remote to take up any slack in the rope. The rope should be under tension before beginning the winching process. Shock loads can momentarily exceed the winch rating, which is dangerous for your equipment and for any bystanders.
Expert Tip: Pulse the winch remote intermittently to wind the rope until no slack remains.
4. Watch how the winch rope spools onto the drum.
Don’t let it pile up on one side or get nested into the inner layers. The winch cable should spool in tight, even rows across the drum.
Expert Tip: If the cable stacks unevenly on one side of the drum, spool out the uneven section of rope and reposition it to the opposite end of the winch drum.
5. Never use a winch rope for towing or snatching another vehicle.
Use a snatch strap to free a stuck vehicle with a shock load, and use a tow rope to tow another vehicle at a slow, steady pace. A winch rope is also not meant to hold a load in place.
Expert Tip: Snatch straps are stretchy (to handle shock loads), while tow ropes do not stretch (to pull another vehicle behind you).