Synthetic vs. Steel Winch Cable Lines -
First, let's mention the differences between nylon rope and cable. Because you'll see winches that have both on their drums. It's a long time argument, and offroaders have their favorites, but what really are the differences, if any, when looking at the best winch rope and cable in depth? Obviously steel cable has been around many more years, since winching began, and has a long time reputation. The cable itself is often referred to as an aircraft quality grade steel. The steel is is strong and durable. Even when used in areas where it might come in contact with potentially rough objects, such as rocks and sand. This means less possibility of fraying. But steel cable line can have some drawbacks though. After years of use outside, the cable can rust. You often need gloves to handle the cable because of it's rough texture and any frayed threads that might be poking out. You can use oil or WD40 to slow the process down as far as rusting sometimes. But a worn steel cable can also sometimes get kinked or out of shape, which makes it difficult to spool up evenly and properly. As modern technology has progressed, synthetic rope has made it's way onto modern winches. The synthetic ropes of today use a polyethylene material. The rope itself is lighter than steel (weight wise). This means it can usually float on top of water and mud, rather than sinking into it. But synthetic rope isn't perfect. It gets dirty and stained. It's not as durable against abrasives and the elements over time. It can sometimes absorb water, making it actually heavier and less flexible. With a synthetic rope, there is more chance for a degradation of the line itself from use. Comparing both, if either one was to fail, and break, the synthetic rope will normally be safer, because it stores less energy than a steel cable. Which is one of the reasons most offroad events today recommend or require the use of synthetic lines on winches. So when choosing a winch, you need to decide beforehand which you will be using, or which one you like best. A steel cable or synthetic rope.
Winch Load Ratings -
Load ratings can vary widely. There are smaller winches with a 8000 lb rating and larger, beefier winches with as high as 16500 lb rating. This is essentially the load as determined by the manufacturer for that winch. And it's a static figure. Meaning, the rating actually drops once the winch is being used. Every time the rope (or cable) is wrapped around the drum, the rating figure drops. The more cable on the spool / drum, the less puling power. So what does the rating mean for you? Well, how much weight do you think you need to pull? What you most likely need is a Self Recovery Winch for your Jeep. Meaning, you need at least a winch that can pull your vehicle by itself. The best choice is to start with the weight of your vehicle. Let's say your Jeep is 4000 lbs. (remember, it could be higher with people, fuel, and gear, etc. than the stock weight). This means you need AT LEAST a winch than can pull your own vehicle out of a stuck situation, or up an incline. A popular figure to use is multiplying the weight of your vehicle by 1.5. Which means in this case, the total is 6000. So you should use a winch that has a capability of 6000 lbs (or more). Of course, that's a minimum rating, and you can go as high as you want to over that. If you're constantly pulling out your buddy's 8000 lb Ford F350, then you need a higher capacity. Also, the higher the rating, the less stressful and harder the winch will have to work. So if you use the winch a lot, a higher rating can be a better choice. And often times, the price difference between one rating and a higher rating is only a few dollars.
Before Installing a Winch -
Before you buy a winch, you need to make sure you can install it on your vehicle. While you can make something custom, and some folks do that, most Jeep aftermarket bumpers already have a provision for attaching a winch to it. You want to make sure your bumper has a Winch Mounting Plate. This is a steel plate, or bracket, to firmly mount the winch to your bumper. Remember, the plate, and the bumper have to be strong to withstand the pulling force of the winch. In most cases, the mounting plate is specific to the bumper brand, or to a particular winch. So if you have a stock bumper, the plate may only fit that bumper, and will only mount a specific brand of winch. The same with an aftermarket bumper. The Smittybilt winch plate might only fit a Smittybilt bumper. So before you choose a winch, get familiar with your bumper. If it's an aftermarket one, know the brand and see if it has a mounting plate. If not, they are usually available as a separate part, and we carry dozens of them at Morris 4x4 Center. Outside of a vehicle, a winch can be mounted to almost anything. To a farm tractor, a heavy truck, tow trucks, etc. Winches have a lot of uses. These are the basics of what you need to know to choose a winch. There are still a wide variety of winches for every occasion and use, but having the information above at your fingertips will make choosing a lot easier.
Top Winch Manufacturers -We carry all the best brands for winches, such as:
If you still need help, don't hesitate to email or call us. Just have your information handy, such as below, and we can help you get the best setup at the best price:
- Weight of your vehicle (or GVW)
- How you will be using the winch (rocks, mountains, mud, etc)
- Bumper brand and type you're mounting it to