Which Size Winch is Best for your ATV?

All-terrain vehicles are popular for both recreational and work purposes. They are smaller than cars, typically equipped with four-wheel drive and can travel through a variety of difficult off-road terrains. However, even four-wheel drive ATVs may get stuck while driving in especially rough conditions, which is where a winch becomes an important ATV accessory.


  • A winch is a device that is mounted to the front of your ATV. It uses electrical power generated from your vehicle and it consists of a spool with a cable wrapped around it. If your ATV becomes stuck, you can attach the cable to a solid object outside of the trouble area and turn on the winch. The winch will reel the ATV toward the object which you have attached it to, provided that the item you have attached the winch to is heavier and less mobile than the ATV. If the item is lighter or moves more easily than the ATV, then it will be pulled toward the ATV.

Winch Considerations

  • Winches come in a variety of sizes and weight ratings. If you purchase a winch that is too small for your ATV, the winch may not be able to pull the vehicle out if it becomes stuck. If you select too large of a winch, the winch will add unnecessary weight and bulk to the ATV. The size winch your ATV will need is determined by the ATV’s weight when it is fully loaded and the amount of weight your winch can pull.

Line Pull

  • The rated line pull is how much weight the line on your winch can support. A good rule of thumb is that your winch should be able to support 1.5 times the gross weight of your ATV. You can determine the gross weight of your ATV by looking through the paperwork you received with it when you purchased it. You can also contact the dealership, provide them with the vehicle identification number and they will be able to tell you the weight.

Line Speed

  • The line speed determines how quickly you can winch the vehicle from one location to the other. Some winches are more powerful and faster than others. There are several different types of cables, including those made of steel and synthetic line. Each has benefits and downsides. Steel requires less maintenance but can be dangerous if it breaks while synthetic lines require more maintenance but are safer in the event of an accident.

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