Buying a winch can pull your vehicle out of a rut or save you from having to call for a tow truck. Whether you’re getting it for safety, appearance, or convenience, winches are an excellent choice for off-roading Jeep drivers. The biggest concern is what size you’ll need and if a winch can be too big or small.
You should get a winch that’s rated 1.5 times the Jeep’s total weight. For example, if you have a 4,500-lb Jeep Wrangler, the winch size should be over 6,750 pounds. Many drivers get a 9,000-lb to 12,000-lb winch since it makes the job easier. You can use snatch blocks to raise the winch’s capacity.
Throughout this page, we’ll break down how much weight your Jeep’s winch should be able to handle, how you can make your winch stronger, and a handful of top-notch winch tools to use on your vehicle. We’ll also quickly discuss whether or not a winch can be too big or small for a Jeep.
How Strong Should Your Jeep’s Winch Be?
The last thing you want is to be trapped on a trail and wonder if your winch can handle the chore of pulling your Jeep. This isn’t the time to research its capabilities and risk it. If you choose an incorrect winch, it can severely damage your vehicle or leave you trapped without another line of protection.
The good news is we have the perfect formula to find the right Jeep winch size. Please take the time to review it below.
Your Jeep’s Winch Should Be 1.5x its Weight
Extreme Terrain explains winches need to be about 1.5 times your vehicle’s weight, regardless of the manufacturer. It might be tempting to get a winch that has your vehicle’s capacity (i.e., a 4,500-lb winch for a 4,500-lb Jeep), but that doesn’t accommodate the added weight from gear and pressure pulling to vehicle downward into the trench.
Never Get a Winch That’s Too Small
If you don’t follow the rule mentioned above, you’ll risk getting stuck without any help. Your best bet would be to find cell service and make an emergency call for a towing company, which could take several hours to get it out. Also, inadequate winches limit your potential to go Overlanding or take your Jeep off-road far from the beaten path.
Some People Prefer an Oversized Winch
There’s nothing wrong with getting a winch that’s a few thousand pounds higher than your vehicle’s weight. If it crosses the 1.5x suggestion, you’re good to go. When calculating your Jeep’s winch needs, ensure you’re adding the weight of the passengers, gear, and other items inside. Multiply that number by 1.5, not the base weight.
You should feel confident in the winch you get for your Jeep since it might be the only line of defense during an emergency. If you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere without any help, you’ll rely on the winch’s capacity to pull you out and save your vehicle. In the next section, we’ll explain a simple process to potentially double your winch’s capacity.
How Do You Increase the Capacity of a Jeep’s Winch?
Are you worried that your winch might not be strong enough to handle your Jeep? Winches are made to keep you safe, and out of trenches, mud, and more, but some winches aren’t strong enough to get the job done. Fortunately, you can use a tree saver, clevis, and snatch block to increase your winch’s ability to remove your Jeep.
Here’s the five-step process to make your winch stronger:
- Tie a tree saver around a nearby tree, boulder, or other heavy natural debris. Tree savers wrap around objects to save your winch’s rope. Never wrap the rope around a tree since the friction can rip your rope and leave you trapped in the rut. Tree savers are padded and can hold ropes, clevises, and more.
- Slide the winch’s rope around the snatch block. According to Offroaders, you can double your winch’s weight capacity by wrapping the rope around a snatch block. If you have a 9,000-lb winch, a snatch block can make it capable of handling up to 18,000 pounds. Keep in mind this doesn’t overshadow the 1.5x rule.
- Hook the clevis through the snatch block to secure it to the tree saver. Ensure the clevis is strong enough to handle the vehicle’s weight before trying this method. Close the snatch block by rotating until both holes are aligned. This motion will secure the rope and let you slide the clevis through the tree saver and snatch block.
- Attach the winch’s hook to a mounted clevis on your Jeep’s bumper. We recommend the Shackle Hitch Receiver by Liberrway. It’s lab-tested to support winches over 40,000 pounds, which is more than enough for any Jeep on the market. Choose between black, orange, and red, then mount it to your Jeep with the provided instructions.
- Lock the winch, so the rope doesn’t slide while pulling the vehicle out of the ditch. Never use a winch without locking the rope. Failure to do so will stretch the rope, leaving you trapped. Reach down and tighten the winch (or flip the switch, depending on the model), then use a remote to pull your vehicle out of the area.
Multiplying your winch’s capacity with these tools is an excellent way to increase your tools’ lifespans, provide peace of mind, and accommodate added weight from gear. This equipment is readily available and relatively easy to install once you get a detailed understanding of it.
It doesn’t matter if you have all of the right tools; Improper installation and usage could harm you, your Jeep, and the trees or boulders you’re using to pull your vehicle away from the situation. Take extra caution and make sure the winch is properly connected to your vehicle, so it doesn’t rip the frame off the bumper.
If you want to see a quick video tutorial of this process, review this YouTube video:
Can a Winch Be Too Big?
The only issue associated with getting a winch that’s too big is it could cause your Jeep to tilt forward. Thankfully, most Jeeps are too heavy and balanced to be weighed down by a winch. However, going overboard could cost you more money on the winch than it should. There’s no need to go more than a few thousand pounds over 1.5-times your vehicle’s total weight.
While a winch can’t be too big, it can be too small. Save yourself from ruining your vehicle, breaking the rope, and stressing about being trapped in the wilderness by getting the correct winch for your Jeep.
Note: Your winch should be mounted to your vehicle’s bumper. You can mount clevis hooks to the bottom of your bumper when using the five-step process with the three tools we suggested. However, upgrading your bumper is recommended to help it handle the stress of pulling your Jeep with a winch. If the rope snaps, your old bumper could rip off.
Winches are an ideal solution for pulling your Jeep out of a sticky situation, so make sure you follow the 1.5-times rule when choosing one. Your winch can rarely be too big, but getting an undersized winch can make it impossible to remove your vehicle from a trench. We recommend bringing winch snatch blocks to increase the tool’s capabilities.
- Offroaders: How to Double Your Winch Power
- Extreme Terrain: What is a Jeep Winch & How to Use One
- YouTube: How to Use a Winch, Snatch Block and Tree Save on the Trail | Black Op Series Winches