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Six Steps to Choosing the Best Boat Trailer Winch For You

A trailer winch is one of the most important accessories to have in your arsenal, so you need to know what to look for when replacing it. We'll take a look at six steps that'll guide you into making the best boat trailer winch decision you can make. Your boat's environment, weight capacity, winch speed, and other concerns can make you feel unprepared when it's time to buy a new heavy-duty trailer winch. But you don't have to be. A new winch will come with all the details you need to determine if it's a good fit. Here are the six questions to ask when choosing the right trailer winch for your needs:

1. What Is the Environment In Which You'll Be Boating?

Do you go out on freshwater lakes only, or is saltwater involved? A trailer winch is rated for the hours it can survive in a saltwater environment. Check to see if the winch is galvanized steel, aluminum or plated with zinc or other powders. These types of details can help navigate you to the right trailer winch for your boating experience.

2. What Size Winch Do I Need for My Boat?

If you ask, "What size winch do I need for my boat?" the answer may surprise you. That's because a trailer winch isn't rated according to the length or size of the boat. It's rated by the weight it can reliably handle. Make sure it can take the weight of your boat. A rule of thumb is a winch weight capacity of 3/4th the combined weight of your boat, motor, gear and fuel. If you launch from steep ramps or have carpeted bunks instead of rollers, you'll want a trailer winch closer to the total weight instead of 3/4th.

3. Do You Need a Single or Two-Speed Winch?

Like pedaling a bicycle with gears, there is a ratio of turns-of-the-crank to the drum's rotation for winches. If your boat is light, a single-speed winch with a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 will do. If your boat is longer and heavier, a heavy-duty trailer winch is recommended.

4. Do You Want a Manual or Electric Winch System?

If a two-speed heavy-duty trailer winch cannot move your boat onto the trailer readily, it may be time for an electric winch system. Electric winches will have variable speeds and high gear ratios to get the job done for higher tonnage craft.

5. What Is the Trailer Winch's Line Pull Capacity?

This number will be listed as the number of pounds or kilograms the trailer winch can exert on the line. If your craft is within these parameters, the winch is a winner.

6. Which Line Type Do You Want?

There are two standard types of lines for your trailer winch: Web/Strap and Cable. Web strap is similar to the seat belts in your truck. It winds evenly onto the drum and doesn't deform. However, a cable can handle heavier weights but doesn't always wind well and can kink if wound too tight.

Tips for Trailer Winch Safety

First, never use a trailer winch strap or cable to secure your boat to the trailer. Only use a dedicated bow, stern or gunwale tie-down. And if you have a larger, heavier vessel, add a safety chain to the bow eye.

  • Always have secure footing and the proper leverage angle when using manual winches. Some of the most common boat ramp accidents are slips and falls, along with the kickback from winch handles.
  • Be sure there are no sharp edges on the trailer or winch stand that could rub against your winch line. If chafed, the web strap could begin to fray and put you and your boat at risk.
  • If you're using an electric trailer winch, keep your vehicle running to avoid draining the battery. You don't want to try to leave with a fully loaded trailer and not be able to start your truck.

Trailer Winch Maintenance

As with any mechanical device, regular maintenance and spot-checks are essential to your trailer winch's functionality and long life. After all, regular maintenance and safety are related. If you don't do the former, the latter could suffer and cause serious bodily harm. A few minutes now could save a lot of pain and money later on.

Manual Trailer Winch Maintenance

  • Check the web strap after each trip to see if it's wet or dry. A wet strap will deteriorate faster. If wet, pull it out and let it dry before rewinding.
  • Periodically, check the web strap for any fraying. If frays or other damage are visible, replace the strap. A few dollars now could save you a lot more later.
  • Use marine grease to lubricate non-galvanized gears, shafts and bushes. Use a wire rope lubricant on the cable's strands for less friction.
  • Check for worn or damaged rollers when the boat is off the trailer.
  • Check for corrosion on the trailer winch and wire-brush it before adding a galvanizing compound.
  • Once a year, take the winch apart to inspect the parts you can't see easily.

Electric Winch System Maintenance

  • Once a year, check and clean the winch.
  • Use a lithium-based grease to lubricate the gears — but avoid getting any on the clutch lining.
  • While winding, spray a thin lubricant on the cable and the shaft and inspect any damage or frays.
  • Always buy a cable type that matches the original, as it is specially designed to work with the winch's rating. Wear leather or similar gloves for protection while doing this. Having an extra winch cable on hand is a great time-saver.

Find The Best Boat Trailer Winch at Husky Trailer & Parts Co.

When you need a new trailer winch, look no further than Husky Trailer & Parts Co. We carry sturdy, reliable manual and electric winch systems , plus all the accessories to match. And our expert team can guide you in making the purchase that's right for your specific needs. Easy to install and affordable, the right heavy-duty trailer winch can make all the difference in having a fun and safe boating experience time after time. Trust Husky to supply your boating adventures each time out. We're always happy to answer your questions and help you find a solution. Please contact us online or call 936-295-9900.

Shop Husky now for all your trailer winch needs