4x4 Winch Review
If you’re reading this, you know what a winch is: basically, a device that helps haul or lift with a rope, cable or chain that rotates around a horizontal drum. In the past they were turned manually with a crank, but in recent times they became powered by motors.
In this review and collection, we will talk about 4x4 winches, specifically those that can either be attached at the rear of a vehicle on their tow bars, or at the front on a bull bar, better known as a winch bar, since they have the space provided for you to install the winch.
We will go over important features such as the winch rope or in certain cases the steel cables. We will look at a few different brands, as well as at the strength of the winch itself, at how many kilograms of weight it can haul, and why that can be important depending on the ute or car you have.
A winch is one of the most effective recovery devices for vehicles in Australia. They come in very useful if you get stuck in sand, mud, or even water. It will help you tow out your own vehicle as well as others. Getting a winch is not a game or something to take lightly, but rather a subject of importance, therefore we’ll make sure we go over the best winches in the market and after you are done reading you should fine the one you need!
The best winches in the Australian market include some of the best known brands such as ARB, TJM, RUNVA, Kings and KingOne. At Off Road Tents AU we sell RUNVA and KingOne, and as such we will dedicate a larger space to both brands. We firmly believe that RUNVA and King One are perhaps the two best winch brands in the country and if you end up buying one, you are in safe hands.
Runva is perhaps the top winch company in all of Australia. Why? Simple, they are one of the few companies offering a 5 year electrical warranty as well as a lifetime mechanical warranty. They are trustworthy and their winches are built to last literally forever. You know you can rely on them, whether it means getting suck in the sand in Fraser Island, in the mud up in Queensland, or crossing a river in Western Australia, a Runva winch will get you or your mate’s car out of trouble.
There are clearly quite a lot of different RUNVA winches to choose from. Options include hydraulic winch, steel cable winch, synthetic rope winch, and even electric winch. Of course, they have different power or rated line pulls, you can get one even at over 5,000kg of pull. So yes, you can pull out any ute, or even pull your own vehicle out of any recovery situation.
RUNVA 13XP Premium 12V Winch With Synthetic Rope
This is our preferred model to go for, and to explain it plain and simple it’s because of the cost to quality ratio. This premium winch has a rated line pull of almost 6,000 kg. It is an electric winch powered by a 5.6kW motor, that all it needs is to connect to a 12v entrance in your vehicle.
Add to that a 25-meter-long synthetic rope that’s basically untearable and indestructible, a remote control to easily manage the winch itself and a lifetime warranty, and you know this winch is for you.
Designed for heavy duty vehicles, it can also be installed on any smaller ute or 4wd, if you are thinking of recovery situations when you truly need it. Thanks to a very affordable price and the features and reliability you get from this winch, we recommend it as the best RUNVA winch all-around option.
King One Winch
King One is another brand of winches in Australia. Not as popular as other companies, but just as reliable and born ready, King One Winches have made sure heaps of vehicles make it home safely every day.
Thee KingOne 12,000 lb synthetic cable recovery winch, gives you a rated pull of almost 5,500 kgs. Also, this TDS winch was actually awarded the 1st place in the Australian 4WD battle of the winches, and was also voted the best value for the money. Why? Well not only the great pull rating, but a string and reliable synthetic rope, partnered with waterproofing features for any recovery situation with a river, lake or water involved.
It also has specifically manufactured sealed motor drum supports and V-ring seals inside the drum flanges for added safety and longevity of the winch itself. It comes with a 2-year warranty, which provides peace of mind with the quality of the winch itself.
Types Of 4wd Winch To Look For
Looking for a winch can take time. There are many brands, types, and styles, as well as uses. What might be a good winch for me, doesn’t mean is a good winch for you.
Therefore, we need to look at the different types, versions, or styles. From hydraulic, to electric, to the rated pull or what powers the winch itself. Let’s look hoping that after this section you’ll have a much better idea of which one to pick.
Electric winches are very common, at least on vehicles. Normally positioned either on a rear tow bar on in front with a winch bar, they are powered by one or more motors, using the vehicle’s electrical system.
When it comes to vehicles, generally, electric winches are either 12v or 24v. As said again, they will have a cable that directly attaches to the vehicle’s power or electrical system at either 12 volts or 24 volts. Clearly, a higher voltage tends to represent more power for the motors.
Now, electric winches don’t always need to be installed with a car, but they can be used separately. However, for the purpose of this article and what we sell, the winches we talk about are specifically used for vehicles and mostly for recovery purposes.
Amongst the best electric winches in Australia, we have again brands that we carry: RUNVA, KingOne, and then we have others such as Warn Winch, ARB winch, TJM winch, and one we like a lot: Bushranger REVO.
As we mentioned above, a 12v winch is a type of electric winch. You can also find 24v winches, but for vehicle recovery gear purposes, as 12v electric winch tends to be the most common type, and you don’t really need something more powerful.
What do you want and need from a 12v winch? The first thing is that you want to make sure it has a brake, and one that works well. Winches need an automatic brake for the load they pll or hold, to avoid all the rope giving in and causing either a collision or an accident. When there is so much tension and weight being pulled, a brake is a necessary safety feature.
The second thing is that the strength of 12v winches changes a lot from a brand or model to another. You want to check the rated line pull of each winch. For example, the RNVA EWN17500 can handle 17,500 lbs or almost 8,000kg of weight. The Bushranger REVO 12,000 lb, handles much less, almost 5,500 kg. Now, is one better or worse? It completely depends on the weight of your vehicle (remember you always want to think about your vehicle first), and those of others.
Then, they type of rope, will it be synthetic or steel? That’s on to you. Many people prefer steel as it is longer lasting, or so it’s claimed. In our opinion, synthetic is just as long lasting, and not noisy or heavy. I prefer synthetic as it adds less weight to the winch itlsef, that when installed with a bull bar or tow bar, all weight adds on to the vehicle, and I prefer to keep it as light as I can.
Another differenty type of winch, yet serving the same purposes. Hydraulic winches operate off the hydralic system of your ute or vehicle. Basically, off the power steering pump. No powerful battery is needed, and yes, they have a higher pulling power. Nonetheless, with more power comes a greater responsibility, so they are more expensive on average.
Another great feature of a hydraulic winch is the fact that it will provide a constant pull, regardless of the weight of the load or vehicle that it’s pulling.
Just like mentioned above, you want to make sure that the brake is working well, you can choose amongst a steel or a synthetic rope, and you now need to look at the pump volume and pressure.
That said, hydraulic winches tend to be used for tow trucks, as they do handle higher weights, tend to be more reliable and longer lasting. However, don’t feel compelled to get one, they do have a higher average rated pull, but not all vehicles need one. An electric winch might be enough for you.
If we can recommend a great hydraulic winch at a very good price, the RUNVA HWX12000 Hydraulic Winch with a synthetic rope, is it.
Winch Accessories To Look For
You might be asking yourself, why would I need to look at accessories when I buy a winch. Well, as mentioned before on this article, things such as the rope (steel or synthetic), and other parts of the winch are important. And just like that you need to take a good look at replacement parts. So let’s have a look.
As mentioned before, when you own a winch, you get to choose between a steel cable or a synthetic rope. Those are the two most common types of “ropes” to pull. You can clearly purchase them separately if by any chance something happened to either.
The best thing for you to do would be to get the same brand of synthetic rope or winch steel cable for the unit you have. If you own an ARB winch, get that cable or rope from them.
Also, if you own a steel cable winch or a synthetic rope winch, try to get the same. What you can do is either get longer ropes or cables, but ideally not change materials.
Why? Simple, although you can add a steel cable to a synthetic rope winch, the body and construction of the winches are different. The steel cable winch has a different brake drum, since the steel cable works by sinking heat, and the synthetic rope traps it. Therefore, changing the cable for the rope or vice versa, can affect the braking abilities of your winch.
This is one of the most common spare parts you will get to replace throughout the use of any winch: the solenoid. These are electronic devices that activate the winch motor. Basically, an electromagnetic switch engages when you press the “On” button, and then current flows from the battery onto the solenoid.
Now, you don’t need a solenoid, but it does help keep the engine or motor safe. You can run your motor without one, but it can burn it. Therefore replacing the solenoid is a good idea, as they can also burn after continuous use. But, replacing one is far cheaper than having to fix the entire motor of your winch.
Needless to say, depending on the brand and power of your winch, the solenoid will vary, from 12v to 24v and brand to brand. Our suggestion, always stick to your brand.
The name says it all, the controller. These tend to get damaged by either time, use, or even elements such as water or dust. Like any device or controller, they can be foxed or replaced, but they do have a shorter lifetime than the winch itself.
Do I need a controller to power my winch? Not really, but it’s better to have it. If you don’t have the controller you might need to hot wire the winch controls to your vehicle. So, better stick to safeguarding your controller mate.
The winch controller is essentially a two way switch that what it does is electronically retract and extend the cable or rope from the winch, by sending signals to the solenoid to turn on y1 or Y2. It dictates the direction in which the winch turns. Some have other features such as helping brake.
Essentially, the controller helps you utilize the winch from a safe distance. Remember, a winch is still a recovery device for a vehicle, there is lot’s of weight involved, and accidents happen. Keeping a safe distance matters.
If your controller gets damaged, get another one from the same brand ideally for the same exact winch model you have.
Does a winch work as a recovery kit or accessory?
Yes, absolutely. Winches are recovery items for vehicles. They can be installed on a bull bar or rear tow bar, to help pull either your vehicle out from say a muddy path or sand, or even to help pull out other vehicles.
Are winch solenoids waterproof?
The solenoid itself no. However, most solenoids in winches come inside a solenoid pack which is waterproof and will protect the solenoid. Sometimes, water can flow inside and damage it.
Are winch controllers universal?
Almost. Not all of them are, but most can be. However, we do recommend you getting one from the same brand, just to be sure.
How do you hook a winch?
Ideally, you will find a tree or rock, and use a protecting strap to strap around the object you plan to hook onto. Then, the strap will ideally join on both ends with a shackle, to which you hook the winch. From there, you can start using it.
If it’s with a vehicle, ideally, each vehicle has towing points underneath it, to which with a strap, you grab both points, and then make sure the winch hooks onto the strap to pull from the center, not form one side and avoid damaging the vehicle you pull.
How strong is my winch?
That depends completely on the rated pull it has. If it says it can pull 12,000 lbs, that’s the strength you should use it for, and avoid pulling heavier loads. If it says it’s 15,000 lbs, then that’s the strength. Ideally you want to choose the capacity of your winch as being 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle it will pull, and since you have to think about yourself first, get a winch that can pull 1.5 times the weight of your vehicle.