A winch is definitely a very practical accessory that you should have on hand on your ATV rides. It’s easy to install a winch on your vehicle, and it will help you to avoid staying stuck on uneven or unpredictable terrain. However, to benefit from it and minimize the risk of injury, you need to know how to properly handle it. So, here are the steps to follow to use a winch safely and effectively.
Step 1: Properly assessing the situation
OK, your ATV is stuck in the mud, and you can’t get out of there. You’ll need to use your winch. Before you use it, make sure to properly assess the situation and to plan how you’ll use the traction. These few minutes of reflection can save you a lot of time during the maneuvers.
Step 2: Preparing the material you’ll need
In addition to the winch, you’ll need a good pair of working gloves, a blanket or coat, a tree trunk protector, and a D ring (manilla). If needed, a snatch block could also be useful for doubling up the cable. Once the material is ready, put on your gloves to protect your hands and fingers. For your safety, it’s crucial that you wear gloves every time you use the winch.
Step 3: Choosing the anchoring point
You obviously didn’t choose the place where you got stuck, but if possible, use a tree or a large rock that’s aligned with the front or back of your ATV (depending on the position of the winch) as an anchoring point. Never choose an anchoring point on one of the lateral sides of the ATV to avoid the cable from rolling up on a single side of the cylinder during the traction. This could risk damaging the winch.
Step 4: Unravelling and securing the cable
Disengage the winch to unravel the cable. Make sure the length of the cable is longer than what is needed. Place a tree trunk protector around your anchoring point. Using a D ring, secure the ends of the protector and the hook. For more traction, you can also create a double line with a snatch block. It’s now time to turn on the winch to start tightening the cable. Since a cable under load accumulates a lot of energy, place a blanket or coat over it to protect yourself in the event of cable failure.
Step 5: Exerting traction
After starting up the engine, start pulling using small, controlled traction movements. During the operation, the cable must not be overly taught, and it has to roll up evenly. Continue the traction movements until your ATV is unstuck and the ground underneath the wheels is firm.
Step 6: Disconnecting and rolling up the cable
Press the button to release the cable before disconnecting from the anchoring point. Remove the blanket or coat, and roll up the cable evenly. You’re done! Your ATV is finally free!
To sum up, to ride with full confidence, regardless of ground or weather conditions, a winch is a very handy accessory. And if, despite all your precautions and a good pair of gloves, your fingers or the fingers of a passenger get stuck in the mechanism during use, please know that you can press the button to release the cable at any time. It’s a small reflex that could prevent a lot injuries. Because safety should always come first on an ATV.