If you plan to take your Jeep off-road, then you absolutely need a winch. There are only so many places AAA can reach, and the backcountry isn’t one of them. So, if your Jeep currently has an old winch installed that you want to replace or you want a brand new one, this is the guide for you.
The purpose of this guide is to answer all of the most commonly asked questions about installing a winch on a Jeep and to provide a rough outline of the process. Once you have the chance to soak up the details, you’ll be well on your way to installing your very own model.
What size winch do you need?
First things first, you want to make sure that you choose the right winch for your Jeep because the last thing you want to do is invest in an underpowered one. The rule of thumb is to choose a model that’s rated to pull roughly double the amount of your gross vehicle weight.
To get this number, run a quick search online for your Jeep model and year to find the gross weight. Then, account for any add-ons you might have already installed. In total, you’ll be able to calculate the gross weight of your vehicle before taking that number and multiplying it by two.
Typically, a 10,000 LB or 12,000 LB winch found here will get the job done for most Jeep models. Keep in mind, that there’s no reason to go beyond double the weight of your vehicle since even a factor of 1.5X is sufficient.
How to Mount Your New Winch
Now that you’ve chosen your winch, it’s time to mount it. You’re probably wondering whether your chosen model will mount to your factory bumper? The answer is yes, though, it’s preferable to remove the bumper before installation.
This way, you’re able to mount the winch directly to your Jeep frame, which will give you the most pulling power and the safest experience. With that in mind, the best way to mount your winch directly to your Jeep frame is to install a specialized mounting plate.
Depending on which model Jeep you own, there are custom plates for Wranglers, TJ, YK, JL, and just about every Jeep model. Additionally, these plates are compatible with different types of bumpers, including tubular ones.
To service your winch, you simply remove the factory bumper. All in all, this is the best way to mount a winch to a Jeep unless you prefer the following method.
The second method is to invest in an aftermarket front bumper that accepts a winch. The advantage here is that these bumpers are a lot tougher than plastic factory bumpers. Also, they’re better for Jeep owners who plan to go off-roading more often than your casual off-roader.
With an aftermarket bumper, you don’t have to worry about installing a separate mounting plate since it will include one. Once mounted, you’ll get a lower pulling point and less interference with your grille.
Overall, once you enter the aftermarket bumper realm, you’ll be able to customize your Jeep just about any way you’d like, which also gives you multiple mounting options.
Jeep Factory Metal Bumpers
If your Jeep has a factory metal bumper, then to mount a winch, all you need to do is find the compatible mounting plate. Once you track down the mounting kit, the process is rather straightforward since you’ll be installing the winch without having to remove the factory bumper.
In short, mounting a winch to a Jeep isn’t rocket science. Where you should put the most thought and preparation into is the process of choosing the winch. Why? Because it’s important to know whether the model is compatible with your Jeep configuration. For instance, if you plan to keep your plastic bumper, you’ll want to make sure that you can track down the correct mounting kit for the model you choose.
Also, you want to get acquainted with how to use the winch and which type of rope you prefer. Most of the common brands allow for steel and synthetic rope. For most people, synthetic rope is preferable because it’s safer to use and handle.
Two top winch brands that are compatible with Jeeps are Smittybilt and Warn. Comparatively, Warn models do cost the most, though, they’re some of the best on the market. By taking a minute to brainstorm how often you’ll be off-road and circumstances where you’ll need a winch, you’ll be able to calculate the potential value of your winch.
For example, if you plan to go off-road often, then stick with one of these two brands to have a model you can count on when you need it the most. Plus, the winches supplied by these brands offer high-quality synthetic ropes.
As a final point, put more time into deciding on the winch you want and keep the mounting process simple.