Which winch is right for me?

Typically, most winch manufacturers will suggest you should calculate the winch rating by taking the vehicle weight and multiplying it by 1.5 and that would be your minimum winch size. But this minimum rating is just that, a minimum. Certain factors can quickly cause your winch capacity to be exceeded so you need to think about your intended usage.

Be aware that certain terrains and situations can put a much greater demand on a winch over the typical 1.5 multiplication rule of thumb. For instance a common cause for winching is mud. Mud has an incredible suction force on a stuck vehicle and in many cases the 1.5 rule of thumb is inadequate. Steep hills and frequent winching also put a greater than normal demand on an electric winch. Understanding the purpose of winch accessories, such as a snatch block, can offer great value when extra winch power is needed.


This is the manufacturer's published weight of a fueled automobile with standard equipment excluding cargo or passengers.


Weight of a vehicle, fully equipped and serviced for operation, including the weight of the fuel, lubricants, coolant, vehicle tools and spares, crew, personal equipment, and load. Gross weight is often confused with curb weight, which represents the weight of the vehicle with no passengers or cargo. The difference between gross weight and curb weight is GVW represents the total passenger and cargo weight capacity of the vehicle. For example, a pickup truck with a curb weight of 3500 pounds might have a cargo capacity of 1500 pounds, resulting in a GVW 5000 pounds. (When fully loaded).


Many winch manufacturers recommend a winch capacity that is ONLY 1.5 times the amount of the vehicle's GVW. Greg Smith Equipment recommends that a potential winch customer calculate needed winch capacity be 2.0 times the vehicle's GVW. There are many extraneous factors contributing to the TRUE rolling GVW of any vehicle.

The serious off-roaders should use this easy formula:
Gross vehicle weight x 2.0 = minimum winch size.
5000 LB. truck x 2.0 = 10,000 LB. winch minimum.

Never Use A Winch To Pull A Load Up An Incline Of More Than 45 Degrees.
(Always Use Wheel Chocks)

Can I use my winch as a hoist?

No! A winch is designed for pulling (moving rolling weight) NOT lifting and supporting "dead weight". The braking system incorporated in a winch is not designed to work effectively on pulling angles greater than 45 degrees.

Short answer:

A hoist is for lifting and a winch is for pulling.

A Winch is geared for pulling a load on a relatively level surface. A winch uses a dynamic brake that must slide.

A Hoist is geared to lift (dead weight) and has a locking brake that can support a "hanging" load.

If a Hoist can lift (dead weight) 250 lbs., then it may be capable of pulling 1000 lbs rolling weight across a hard packed surface. If a Winch can pull 1000 lbs. across a hard packed surface, it may only have the capacity to support 100 lbs. (dead weight) because the winch employs a different braking system than that of a hoist.

A Hoist is used for lifting and supporting "dead weight".

A Winch is used for pulling (moving rolling weight).

How do I shift my gearbox into the forward or reverse gear?

Do not shift in and out of gear while the motor is turning the spool or gears. (This will strip the gears and damage the gearbox). This abuse is not covered under warranty. The clutch handle controls the engagement of the gears. If the clutch handle will not move (shift the gears) then gently rock the wire rope spool with your other hand. (This movement will help to align the gears and allow the sliding gear to engage or disengage the main planetary gear set).

Why are the electrical cables getting hot?

our battery is low or bad, causing the winch to draw too many amps.

Connections could be loose or dirty.

The ground connection is bad. (Do you have a ground connection?)

The electric cables could be corroded.

Check all cables and repair or clean as necessary.

Always operate the winch with the vehicle's motor running.

(Battery is being charged and full amp power is being delivered to the winch).

You are running the winch motor for a longer period than the recommended duty cycle. Only run the winch motor for a minute or two at a time. Allow the motor to "rest" between run times. This will keep the motor from overheating.

The motor solenoid sticks open (or closed) or flutters, can this be fixed?

The solenoid has contacts inside which can wear out over time. If the solenoids flutter with the wired remote, there is a loose or broken wire either in the wired remote or control box. If the solenoids flutter with the wireless remote, the remote's transmitter batteries could be low. There could be an obstruction between the transmitter and receiver at the winch. You are too far away; stand within 10 feet with a clear line of site, and then slowly move away to understand the range of your remote. If the solenoids stick (closed), the winch motor will continue to run. If the solenoids stick (open), the winch motor will not work. In both cases, replace the solenoids.

My cable will not spool evenly on the drum, how can I correct this issue?

This could be because of the angle at which the cable comes into the fairlead, and then onto the spool. Always exert some pressure (tension) on the cable as it is being retrieved onto the spool. The wire cable should spool evenly across the face of the spool. If the cable is not spooling correctly, freewheel some cable off the spool and start the process again. Cable that has been damaged should be replaced. (The pulling capacity of the wire rope has been compromised).

How can I get my winch to "free spool" (or power the cable out) with a load attached?

If you have retrieved a vehicle up an incline (or pulled your vehicle-with the winch attached to the front bumper-up an incline), the power out function of the cable may not work if there is still a "load force" on the wire cable. The winch is designed to pull vehicles. Many people use the winch as a "tie-down" after the "pulling" is done.

OPENROAD 4WD recommends that other "tie down" methods be used rather than the winch cable. If you are using your winch as a "tie down", then you must relieve cable tension for the wire cable to be "free spooled" or powered out. The brake action of the OPENROAD 4WD winch is working properly, and not allowing the winch cable to be pulled from the spool. If you were pulling a vehicle on level ground (not up an incline), then once the "pulling action" stopped, the winch cable could be powered out; because there would be NO tension on the cable….. and the brake would not be engaged. It may be difficult to “un-weight” a vehicle on an incline…but it must be done to disengage the brake and allow the cable to be powered out.