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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2008
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    Default Truck winches - useful of not?

    Hi all!

    I have a old 95 Chevy 2500 that I purchased this spring to pull my trailer around. First truck I ever had. Now this truck will also be used as my backup vehicle as well for bad weather (we live at the bottom of a hill).

    Anyway, I was talking to a tow truck driver about my fear of getting stuck. He recommended that I get a winch for my truck "just in case" and explained situations when he hauled himself out (he has a more powerful pickup that I). Now I have 4WD and I'm in the process of getting new tires. However, I was curious to know if anyone out there has a winch on their trucks and was it worth the money?

    I have an old truck and I really don't want to throw money around unnecessarily - that's what new tires are for! : ) Any constructive advice is appreciated.

    Thanks!



  2. #2
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    Mar. 27, 2011
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    I've been driving 4 wheel drive trucks for almost 20 years and have never got myself so stuck that I could not get out. I can usually get out without 4 wheel drive if I drive smart. I have a tow strap and hooks that I keep in my tool box, usually to tow other people out.

    Just because you have 4 wheel drive, it does not mean you can drive *ANYWHERE* and not get stuck. Think twice about where you are going before you go there.

    I see no reason to spend the money on a winch. I would invest the money in a US Rider membership before I would a winch!



  3. #3
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    Apr. 2, 2009
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    North Carolina
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    I have a winch on my work vehicle, since we spend a lot of time driving through the woods and accessing riverbanks for my job.

    Mega downside -- truck now eats tires for breakfast. With the weight of the winch plus the weight of the 4WD, the front alignment gets messed up in short order and tires do not last very long, even though I rotate religiously.

    I would not put a winch on my personal vehicle for this reason -- if you learn how to drive well, put good tires on, and don't drive into somewhere stupid, you will be fine. The places that I drive my work truck are not places that the average person would or should ever drive, which is why we put the winches on.



  4. #4
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    Feb. 28, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildlifer View Post
    I have a winch on my work vehicle, since we spend a lot of time driving through the woods and accessing riverbanks for my job.

    Mega downside -- truck now eats tires for breakfast. With the weight of the winch plus the weight of the 4WD, the front alignment gets messed up in short order and tires do not last very long, even though I rotate religiously.
    I drove with a winch on the front of my full size 4wd p/u for 8 years and I didn't notice this problem at all. I credit my tires though, I will never use another tire other than BFG all terrain t/a's.

    I got a winch for the same reason as OP, just in case I wound up stuck in slop with trailer in tow I could get myself out single handedly. Given my nature, it wasn't a farfetched notion.

    I had a warn, with the custom bumper, iirc it was 13.5k#. Shop told me my choice in winch should handle 1 1/2 x the weight of my truck + trailer fully loaded. Think it ran me around $1300 installed 15 years ago (yeesh I'm old).

    While I loved my winch dearly, and used it for a lot of things, I never needed it to get me un-stuck with trailer in tow. I just thankfully never made critically bad decisions while trailering.

    You have to remember too, a winch is only as good as the thing you can anchor too... big stout tree for example. Not always there when you need one . And, my 4wd mechanic waggled his finger at me when I picked up my newly upgraded truck "you.cannot.move.the.earth."

    When I get a truck again I will have a winch again, I loved everything about mine and while I didn't use it regularly it saved the day when I did. Just never needed it any sort of horse related way at all. (well there was the one time I got the snow plow truck out of the manure pile.... )

    If you're like me and have a 'boy scout preparedness' mentality, you can investigate a come-along instead to pack with you.

    If you do decide to get a winch, do have someone knowledgeable show you all the ins and outs. You can do serious harm to yourself or your truck or the winch itself if you don't use it correctly.
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
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    14,482

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    I think you have what you need in a 4WD.

    This is the rule of thumb: "Use 2WD to get into a mess. Use 4WD to get out."
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2007
    Location
    Montana
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    We do a lot of work with our neighbor and he has a winch on his truck. We've used it for getting stuck vehicles unstuck, both the tractor stuck in mud and the vehicles when they get stuck in snow drifts.

    We also use the winch to unload hay and move hay around.

    I don't know if I would run out and get one unless you really know you want one but they can be very handy.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2007
    Location
    Maryland USA
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    1,365

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    I think I'd use a winch about once per winter if I had one, either to unstick the truck or unstick the tractor.

    I don't, so about once per winter I end up doing something with snowchains, a shovel and a highlift jack or calling a tow truck for help.

    Calling a tow truck costs about $200. Putting snowchains on an already bogged truck costs about 2 hours, very cold hands and a lot of swearing.

    I'm sure I'd like a winch as another option, but it's not seemed worth it too me. It depends on how often you "plan" on getting stuck.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
    Location
    MI USA
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    You CAN remove the winch and put it on the next truck. Doesn't HAVE to be sold with the truck it is on.

    I got a smallish winch for Mother's Day one year. Have to say I used it a LOT for loading things into the back of the truck when alone. It wasn't mounted in front, so wouldn't probably have pulled me out of a situation. COULD have run the cable out the tailgate if there had been a need and an anchor point to pull on!

    We moved the winch from that truck to a trailer, and then into the big semi trailer for pulling carriages inside. Still love the winch, does excellent work for us.

    I don't have 4WD because I really wouldn't use it enought to keep it working well. I have done fairly well with 2WD and careful driving over a lot of nasty winters. Even with snow, and very deep snow, the 2WD can do a fine job with some weight in the truck box, knowing how to drive in the conditions. I am not usually dealing with wild conditions, back country or a 2 mile driveway, so this works for me.

    If you THINK you need a winch, just the fact it is on the truck will give you peace of mind. As mentioned, you NEED TO LEARN how to use it correctly, to make it an effective tool when you get into a situation. You will need to be carrying clothing and boots that will allow you to work in harsh conditons to get yourself out. Sometimes having good towing coverage will make more sense! Depends on your local driving situations.

    Around here you can ALWAYS TELL who has 4WD. They NEVER slow down, even in whiteout conditions, unsalted or unplowed highway, still doing 75mph or better. They fly by, and then you pass them down the road, off in the ditch or spun-out in the median of the Interstate. WAY off in the median! 4WD just seems to get them stuck further and deeper, than the rest of us folks. And they still need to call a wrecker, can't get out of the mess they drove themselves into, even with big gnarly tires. Ah, nothing like Michigan drivers, crazy bunch of folks in winter weather.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
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    The rocky part of KY
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    . . . Around here you can ALWAYS TELL who has 4WD. They NEVER slow down, even in whiteout conditions, unsalted or unplowed highway, still doing 75mph or better. They fly by, and then you pass them down the road, off in the ditch or spun-out in the median of the Interstate. WAY off in the median! 4WD just seems to get them stuck further and deeper, than the rest of us folks. And they still need to call a wrecker, can't get out of the mess they drove themselves into, even with big gnarly tires. . .
    This would be anybody in KY. They ignore snow and ice and end up in the ditch. We only have 3 inches of snow max at a time but it wreaks havoc.

    The only people I know who use winches and get good use out of them are the rock crawling 4x people. They are certainly useful all over the farm but you've got to consider your situation - dollars to donuts if we put one on the Ford it would break down and we'd have a lovely winch that we coudn't use. I've been involved in two fiascos with winches, once the back country sheriff burned his up kinda playing with it and the other time some fool pulled a small tree over onto the power lines and started a fire - he was using single blocks to lead his winch wire down into a creek to haul out a burl and used the tree as a fastening point - oops!
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
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  10. #10
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    Jan. 26, 2006
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    Fort Worth, Texas
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    if your truck had a wench, she could open gates for you



  11. #11
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    Apr. 2, 2009
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    North Carolina
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    There is another option to the permanent mount that we did with one of our work trucks -- we had the winch mounted on a square tubing that fits into the receiver hitch with a pin, just like a tow ball. Then we had a second receiver welded on to the front of the truck. So we can mount the hitch on either receiver, front or back, or just store in the truck bed. Now, it's heavy as crap, so you really need two people to move it around, but we have options, which comes in handy when trying to launch an electrofishing boat where there is no boat ramp for 50 river kilometers, LOL! We also have both harnesses (front and rear) wired to a dashboard switch in the truck to protect the battery.

    You DO need to be very careful and know what you are doing. Winch cables can snap, they can drag the truck over on top of you, the motors can burn up, and many other unintended consequences of messing around without training.



  12. #12
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    Feb. 28, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    You CAN remove the winch and put it on the next truck. Doesn't HAVE to be sold with the truck it is on.
    I *wish* I could have kept my winch, but when I sold my truck it was just about the only thing of value on it and the tires.For some reason I recall mine being designed to fit into the special bumper too, which fit my model truck, which would mean I would need the buy the same truck if I wanted to use it ever again... easier to just sell it.

    I did love the bumper too though, it was a huge ugly black metal shelf that stuck out of the front of my truck, made a great bench/table/mounting block. Just had to remember my truck was 2' longer in the front when negotiating parking garages and tight city streets

    next time around definitely clever to consider a winch that is repositionable and independent of a bumper. Mounting on a hitch is brilliant!

    I had dual batteries in my truck with an isolator, so the truck did not have to be running to operate the winch, and operating the winch wouldn't kill my driving battery. Dual batteries were AWESOME because if I ever left my lights on and found a dead truck, I just popped the hood, swapped the batteries and voila! Fresh fully charged battery.
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2007
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    Montana
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Around here you can ALWAYS TELL who has 4WD. They NEVER slow down, even in whiteout conditions, unsalted or unplowed highway, still doing 75mph or better. They fly by, and then you pass them down the road, off in the ditch or spun-out in the median of the Interstate. WAY off in the median! 4WD just seems to get them stuck further and deeper, than the rest of us folks. And they still need to call a wrecker, can't get out of the mess they drove themselves into, even with big gnarly tires. Ah, nothing like Michigan drivers, crazy bunch of folks in winter weather.
    They're in MT too! We have a lot of out-of-staters living here now and on the first big storm of the year we have vehicles blooped off into the ditch EVERYWHERE. I putz on by.



  14. #14
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by clanter View Post
    if your truck had a wench, she could open gates for you
    The driver IS the truck's gate opening wench. You can tell because she deals with the gate and gets yelled at for tracking mud in the truck....and also vacuums it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by buck22 View Post
    I did love the bumper too though, it was a huge ugly black metal shelf that stuck out of the front of my truck, made a great bench/table/mounting block. Just had to remember my truck was 2' longer in the front when negotiating parking garages and tight city streets

    next time around definitely clever to consider a winch that is repositionable and independent of a bumper. Mounting on a hitch is brilliant!

    I had dual batteries in my truck with an isolator, so the truck did not have to be running to operate the winch, and operating the winch wouldn't kill my driving battery. Dual batteries were AWESOME because if I ever left my lights on and found a dead truck, I just popped the hood, swapped the batteries and voila! Fresh fully charged battery.
    That's quite a bad a$$ set up you have there. The swapping batteries sounds like work, though.

    Oh, and you might as well add a spike to the hitch you'd put in front of that "you don't want a piece of this" bumper. I wish I could find a picture. Imagine a 4-sided thing you'd see atop a German SS helmet, mounted on a hitch.

    I saw one on a (rear) hitch of a big ol' truck in Wyoming. It made the point to those-who-would-rear-end-you quite nicely.

    Sorry about the OTness of the spike part of the post. It just seemed like a natural progression.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  15. #15
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    Feb. 28, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    The swapping batteries sounds like work, though.
    lot less work than calling AAA or a friend for a jump

    this isn't my truck but its exactly waht it looked like, it was so ugly but so handy and so devastating to anything that got in front of it mine didn't have that hitch receiver on it though, that looks handy as heck

    and *had* trucky-poo is long gone, back when gas hit $4 the first time. sniff sniff.
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



  16. #16
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    Mar. 1, 2005
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    maryland
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    I vote no. Good use of 4WD, safe driving speeds in ice, and good planning/maneuvering should keep you from getting stuck.

    You can always add one later. But in all my years of owning trucks, I've yet to be in a situation where one would've saved me.

    One thought: if you do get one, be sure to get a good one. There are cheapo ones out there. But if you're buying one to potentially move your truck (or truck + horse trailer), you better look for a unit rated far in excess of your combined gross vehicle weight.



  17. #17
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    Feb. 23, 2005
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    Spotsylvania, VA
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReSomething View Post
    This would be anybody in KY. They ignore snow and ice and end up in the ditch. We only have 3 inches of snow max at a time but it wreaks havoc.
    LOL, we lived in Great Falls when it first became fashionable. Previously it had been where you lived when you had to many dogs horses and kids and not much money. But it became fashionable and the yuppies moved in and the first thing it seemed that they bought was a 4 WD Range Rover. Every winter we could watch them hit the top of the hill at full speed and proceed to slide down into the ditch.

    For years after he died there were still people who would say "I remember when your dad pulled me out of the ditch"
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    Oh, and you might as well add a spike to the hitch you'd put in front of that "you don't want a piece of this" bumper. I wish I could find a picture. Imagine a 4-sided thing you'd see atop a German SS helmet, mounted on a hitch.

    I saw one on a (rear) hitch of a big ol' truck in Wyoming. It made the point to those-who-would-rear-end-you quite nicely.

    Sorry about the OTness of the spike part of the post. It just seemed like a natural progression.
    Where I used to live they welded spikes like that to gates. Radiator killers, they were called, and did a pretty good job of keeping your far distant gates unmolested by the scofflaws among us. Not necessarily OT, from what I read here.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  19. #19
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    Jul. 30, 2005
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    The one thing I miss about my ex-hubby is his truck (which had a winch.) I did find it useful. I never had to use it to rescue the truck through. I used it for moving round bales.
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