Any off-road trip begins with a reliable SUV and off-road tires. Indeed, good off-road tires allow you to go very far, especially if the car is equipped with wheel locks. And going further most often means getting stuck deeper, even behind the wheel of the most passable SUV. So the second number after rubber on the list of an off-road conqueror is always an electric winch.
Experts from the Indy Auto Man service station say that the defining characteristic should be a traction force that (ideally) exceeds the vehicle’s total mass by about two times. One can do more, but it does not make sense if a driver is not into off-road sports. The ability to use it effectively is crucial, and it is vital to follow a few rules.
Before you start working with a winch (screwing, pulling, etc.), think about safety. Always work with a cable in rough mittens or gloves. Especially if the cable is steel: it easily tears the palms. Never stand on the line of a tensioned cable, and do not let other people there. If people still fall into the line, immediately stop the winch. Be sure to use a cable arrester. In this capacity, you can use a piece of a fire hose worn in the middle of a stretched cable or just some rag or an old jacket thrown over it from above. Then, if the cable breaks, it will simply fall to the ground and not fly into the windshield of a car or people. And never step over a loaded cable.
If you get stuck, look around before pulling out of the car. The closest tree might not be the best evacuation direction because you have to go further. Calculate your next steps, and figure out which way to go. It might be better to go back altogether. Do not try to winch a vehicle that has rested against a large immovable object, rock, or shore. Use improvised materials – jacks, and ladders, to enable the winch to drag the car over the obstacle. Remember: even the most powerful winch can’t move the river bank if the car rests against it with a bumper.
Take breaks, cool down the winch motor, and gain energy for the car battery. Do you have two batteries or a high-power generator? Anyway, the winch motor gets very hot and needs to cool down. Otherwise, it will fail, and you will go for help. The usual rule: we work with a winch for several minutes, then let it cool down for ten minutes (and if hot, then more). It’s easier to poke around an extra hour than to lose a day to pull out a car with a burnt winch. You can put a damp cloth on the winch motor to speed up the process.
There is no need to raise the speed of the car engine in the hope of extracting more electricity from the generator. The more powerful your generator, the faster it will burn out, leaving you without power. After all, the winch consumes a current of several hundred amperes, which even the most powerful generator can hardly provide. In addition, it is worth remembering that current times voltage is power, and it is dissipated in the form of heat. The more powerful the generator, the more heat it dissipates during operation. But the car is stuck and does not go anywhere – the cooling is minimal. Therefore, we control ourselves and stretch at idle engine speed or slightly above idle to save the generator. When the winch is off, it is time to add speed and charge the battery.
Off-road newbies often ask whether it is necessary to work with wheels. Experts make a reminder: you need not help the winch with wheels! The more intensively you skid in mud or sand, swamp or clay, the harder it is for your winch to pull the car. In the majority of cases, the algorithm is as follows:
- reduce the pressure in the tires;
- hook the winch in the right direction;
- pull the car into neutral gear.
A sign that the car has rolled onto a hard surface: the winch will suddenly become lighter, and you will immediately see it. After that, do not rush to turn on the gear and put pressure on the gas. If the car rolls, you can unhook the winch cable.
Do not forget to rewind the winch cable, evenly distributing it on the drum. Be sure to visit the service from time to time to make preventive maintenance, and then the equipment will never let you down.