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How to Choose Which Size of ATV Winch You Need

If you’ve had an ATV, then you know how easy it is to get stuck when you’re off-roading in the deep bogs of mud. That’s sort of the nature of things. Because of this, you need to be sure that you have a good winch to get out of a tight spot – or to help a friend when they are stuck deep in the trenches.

Therefore, you need to know what size is the right sized ATV winch cable that suits your vehicle and gives you towing power, and it won’t snap. If you choose the wrong winch rope, then you may regret it! Don’t worry, in this guide, we’ll tell you briefly what size winch for your ATV is necessary.

atv stuck in mud winching

What’s the Right Size Winch for an ATV?

This is a common question. A good rope winch depends on the class of your vehicle and the vehicle’s weight. Some people prefer to go by the standard rule of choosing the winch-pulling power by multiplying the weight of their ATV by 1.5 and choosing the winch size above this.

There may be times that you can’t necessarily go by this calculation to determine the winch or winch rope you need. So, what is the best size winch for an ATV?

Think of Your Friends

It’s important that when determining what size winch, you choose for your ATV that you pick one that can help your friends out when they get stuck. Some of them may have a larger vehicle, get stuck in deeper or stickier mud, or even get stuck on a greater incline.

What About the Size of the Cable for an ATV Winch?

When you choose an ATV winch cable, you need to pick one that is going to give you maximum durability. Depending on certain situations, you have two options – a steel towing cable or a synthetic winch rope. The towing cables are super strong and durable, but they can start to wear or tear from the elements – especially when it comes to mud and water. This can get pretty sharp as the frays can poke you.

So, should you use rope? Many people do believe that a winch rope is a better alternative to cables. You need to ensure that you’re getting a rope that has enough testing strength before you purchase it though. Also, you need to consider your elements. If you are going to be pulling around a lot of snags, sharper limbs, and rocks, then this can damage or cut your winch cable. Ultimately, however, the choice is completely yours on what you want to use.

What Size Wire for an ATV Winch is Best?

The length of the winch wire or rope plays an important factor in pulling power. But this doesn’t mean that you want to overload the winch spool – as this can be unsafe and can damage or bunch up on the winch drum and break your winch or the line.

In general, the most common length of winch wire cable or synthetic rope that you should use – regardless of your vehicle’s weight is 20 feet or less. Diameter also helps to increase the breaking strength. You want to have a winch line that has a breaking strength of about double the winch pulling power you’re using. You also want to consider that if you have a thicker winch cable, you may have to have a shorter line to avoid overloading the winch drum.

What Size Winch for ATVs to Use

If you’re using a 350cc, you may be able to use a 1,500lb winch with a 2,500lb strength cable or winch rope. If your quad is less than 500cc (but above 350cc), you may be able to get away with a 2,000lb winch. From 500 to larger vehicles including UTVs, you may want a winch size of 2,000 to 4,500lb.

So How Big Should My Winch Be?

As we mentioned above, it’s a good general rule to make your winch 1.5 times the weight of your quad or ATV. On average, most four-wheelers may be able to get away with using a 2,500lb winch. However, it is generally recommended to go one size up from the lowest one to give you maximum towing power. Therefore, if the next size up from your vehicle’s weight times 1.5 is 2,500lbs and you plan on doing some heavy mudding, then you’ll want to get at least a 3,500lb winch with a 20 ft rope or cable with no less than 7,000lbs of breaking power.


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