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How to Mount a Winch on a Trailer: Beginners Guide

How to Mount a Winch on a Trailer: Beginners Guide

If you want to mount a winch on a trailer, it’s wise to understand the process. Mounting a winch improperly could cause trouble when it’s time to use it. If you want to add a winch to your trailer, you’re in the right place. 

Giving your trailer more range of function means you will have more assistance when you’re in a sticky situation. We’ll dive into some essential information you’ll need to mount a winch on your trailer correctly. Let’s get started! 

What Is a Winch? 

A winch is a nifty tool that can get you out of some precarious positions. It’s a hauling or lifting tool that uses rope, cable, or chain to pull. You wind the rope, cable, or chain around a horizontal rotating drum that you’ll typically turn by a motor or crank. 

For instance, if your Jeep has a winch on the front end, you can use the winch to free a truck from the mud or even pull yourself up a steep incline. The ability to link onto something and pull it gives you a range of opportunities. 

Jeep Cherokee with winch on bumper
It’s common to find winches on off-road vehicles, but you can also install them on trailers.

Why Mount a Winch on a Trailer?

There are a few reasons someone might want to mount a winch on their trailer. You can use a winch to pull an inoperable vehicle onto your trailer. You can use a trailer winch to pull or lower a boat from your trailer. 

The ability to tug on something you’re trying to load onto your trailer bed is beneficial. A properly-mounted winch can do much to make your trailer better equipped to help you through the workday.

Pro Tip: Learn more about the ins and outs of Winches and How They Work.

How Do You Attach a Winch to a Trailer?

Attaching a winch to a trailer isn’t the most straightforward job. You’ll need the skill and ability to weld and cut metal to secure the setup correctly. You can try to do it without welding any metals together, but you’ll be working with a build that may not have the holding power you need. 

How To Install A Winch On Your Trailer- Harbor Freight 12,000 Pound Winch!!

Find a Suitable Mounting Location

First, find the best spot on your trailer to mount the winch. Usually, you’ll want to have the winch at the front of the trailer in the middle, so you’ll always have a good angle to pull. Front and center placement gives your winch more weight behind its pulling power. 

Determine How Cable Will Pull

If you’re adding a winch, ensure it has a clear path. The winch cable needs a clear path as it winds and unwinds. Dont allow the cable to put pressure along the back of the trailer as the force may damage the trailer or the cable. Some trailers use a cable guide or slot to allow the cable to pass through the back of the trailer. A guide like Zips can guide the cable until its needed to be free then it can pass up through the slot.

zips cable guide on trailer

Can You Power a Winch Through a Trailer Plug? 

You don’t want to work your winch in through your trailer plug. You’ll cause trouble trying to do that. Instead, rig up an independent power supply for your trailer winch. You’ll have to add a battery into the trailer’s storage compartment. 

This will take a bit of tweaking to the trailer’s design and a little fabrication, but adding a battery box won’t take long. However, there aren’t many options when choosing a spot for mounting your trailer winch.  

Pro Tip: Safely tow your trailer by knowing What Is an RV Trailer Tug Test?

trailer winch with battery installed
Instead of using the trailer plug, you’ll want to mount a battery on the trailer to use your winch with ease.

Do I Need a Mounting Plate for My Winch? 

You won’t need a mounting plate for every trailer. If you chose a spot to mount your winch which requires you to attach the winch to the wooden deck, then you will need a solid plating design to reinforce the winch adequately. 

If you can mount the winch directly to a strong point in the metal frame, then you won’t have to worry about adding mounting plates for reinforcement. However, you may need to fabricate and weld a few metal supports to stabilize the winch. 

Pro Tip: Take a closer look at What Does a Winch Solenoid Do as a part of your winch set up.

What Size Winch Do I Need to Pull a Car on a Trailer? 

When towing a car onto a trailer using a winch, most recommend that your winch have a rating to hold the weight of the vehicle plus fifty percent. That means most cars and SUVs would need a winch capable of pulling up to around 6,000 pounds. 

Winch mounted on a trailer
Make sure your winch is capable of handling any loads you intend to pull.

Where Do You Mount a Winch on a Gooseneck Trailer?

The best place to mount a winch on a gooseneck trailer would be the middle of the neck riser. Mounting on the frame of the gooseneck will give you the best foundation integrity for your winch. 

Pro Tip: A winch isn’t the only useful tool to have installed on your vehicle, camper, or trailer. Make sure you have these 8 Critical Recovery Gear You Must Have Off-Road.

Is a Winch Necessary on a Flatbed?

A winch is not necessary on a flatbed. However, it’s an excellent perk. You don’t need a winch on your flatbed trailer, but you will want a winch on your flatbed. It makes loading and unloading the trailer bed more accessible and safer. 

If you don’t have the tools or mechanical skills to do the job yourself, it’s worth paying a professional. The value of a winch isn’t ever truly appreciated until you need it, and then you’ll wish you had a winch mounted on your trailer. 

Man winding winch on trailer.
The type of trailer you have will determine where you mount your winch.

Want to see a winch in action? Check out Matt’s Off Road Recovery for some action-packed winching that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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