In order to work to its full potential, your off road winch requires regular inspection and maintenance. If you neglect basic maintenance, you could end up with expensive repairs or the cost of a new winch altogether. For the best performance, you should clean, inspect, and service your winch on a regular basis.
If your winch is caked with mud and left that way after riding, it will deteriorate much faster than one that’s cleaned after every muddy or wet ride. If you want to keep your winch working for you, you’re going to need to put a little effort into maintenance. The more you use it, the more often you will need to clean and service it.
One of the easiest ways to keep your winch working is to keep it clean. Remove any dead leaves, dirt, and debris from around the cable, housing, and moving parts. These can get caught in your winch and cause problems down the road. Check for loose mounting bolts or electrical connections and tighten or replace as needed. Remove dirt and corrosion from the electrical connections.
If your winch gets muddy during a ride, spool out the cable, hose it down at an angle, and let it dry completely before spooling it back in. Letting a wet or muddy cable dry on the spool can cause your cable to rust and weaken. Synthetic rope takes even more care to maintain. Wet or muddy synthetic rope can rot if it’s left to dry on the spool.
Check your cable before and after every use for signs of damage, such as excessive fraying, spliced wires, or other signs of wear and tear that could cause your cable to snap under load. Replace your cable if needed. Better to be safe than stuck in a bog with a snapped cable.
High-mounted winches generally stay cleaner and drier than low mounts. In some cases, your winch may get dirty even if you don’t use it. The easiest way to prevent this is to protect it with a winch cover. Neoprene winch covers are made from wetsuit material, which is fully waterproof. These covers keep your winch clean and dry when you’re not using it and repel dust and debris.
Another maintenance tip is to properly rewind the cable onto the drum. It should spool evenly onto the drum in neat rows. If you let your cable bunch up in a mess, it will be a pain to straighten out the cable the next time you need to use your winch. It also can weaken or damage the cable.
Most winches do not require lubrication for the life of the winch except in the case of a complete disassembly and repair. Check with your manufacturer for more details on the maintenance of your specific winch.