Q: I want to add an electric winch to my truck, but I’m not sure how to choose the proper size. I don’t want to over-spend on a winch that is too large for my needs, but I didn’t want to end up getting one that is too small for the job when it’s time to pull myself out of a stuck!
A: The general rule for choosing a winch is to get one rated at 1.5 times the gross weight of the vehicle. Gross weight is the total weight of the vehicle plus the driver, fuel, and any gear or tools that will be carried. To determine your truck’s gross vehicle weight, just load it up with all your trail stuff, fill the gas tank, then drive over to the local truck stop or dump and weigh the truck on a vehicle scale.
Once you have the vehicle weight, just multiply it by 1.5 to determine the proper winch rating. For example, say your truck’s gross vehicle weight is 3,800 pounds. When you multiply that by 1.5, you get 5,700. That means you need a winch that is rated no less than that amount.
For this example, a winch rated at 6,000 pounds would be the most common one you can find. Getting a higher-rated winch—say 8,000 or 9,000 pounds, would give you an extra margin of safety and utility.