Inexpensive vs. Expensive Winch

nitro_rat

On a Suburban Excursion
Not sure the ongoing status of Superwinch since their Westin buyout but Warn and Ramsey are pretty good about replacement parts to rebuild them, too. Summit Racing stocks a lot of spares for both brands, for example.
I have had excellent service from Warn for replacement parts!

Why not buy a used Warn, Superwinch or Ramsey? You should be able to find one for about the same or a small difference more than one of the cheap China winches. They are readily available used, easy to find and most have not seen a lot of use.
Sometimes it's just a wiring issue that takes them out. Replacing the control pack and remote can be costly (about $350 from Warn IIRC) but that stuff should really be upgraded if you're going Chinese anyway...

Op, if you truly want the best try to incorporate a PTO, but, you will still have to maintain it.
PTO's can be downright dangerous in the wrong hands. The only time a PTO is advantageous in my opinion is if you're going to be working it all day long. If you're trying to skid trees or something maybe it's a good idea. A PTO winch will usually pull until something breaks.

A friend of mine has a PTO on the front of his one ton Dodge, it doesn't see much use. The last time he used it was an accidental engagement. It popped the hook right off the cable sitting at a red light. Sure did make a funny noise that loose cable end spinning around slapping stuff.

Just a side note about the Chinese winches - some of them come with a circuit breaker that attaches to the battery at the positive cable. That little joker will short the voltage to the motor and cause it to prematurely fail. Throw it away and run the positive cable direct to the battery just like a "real" winch...
 

68camaro

Any River...Any Place
Thanks all, ordered a Rough Country 12-S, $499 with synthetic line. Big reason is cost and shop installing Ujoint bumper uses them on personal vehicles plus good online reviews. Really doubt I will need it but you never know.....
 

Airmapper

High-Tech Redneck
I run a cheap (I won it at 4wheelparts in Nashville in a drawing so $0 for me) Smittybilt 8000lb winch.

I gutted it before the first use, put the internals in a parts washer to remove the junk grease, cleaned that off everything, and repacked with Aeroshell lithium grease.

I also removed the solenoid box, inspected the wiring, added sealant, and installed it under the hood, high and dry.

I hacked a wired remote cord and used a Harbor Freight remote kit for a wireless controller, like $30. I keep a spare wired remote in case it's battery is dead.

So far, it's worked every time I've needed it and it feeds line out smooth as butter even in the bitter cold (and I know because I needed it to get up my own driveway one year it snowed.)

If you run a cheap winch, the more you know about winches the better off you are. I learned mine inside and out before installation and it's served me well because of it.
 

Box Rocket

Well-known member
Personally, There are only two brands I have complete trust in. ComeUp and Warn (non-VR series Warn). There will be people all day long that will defend their less expensive winch and that it "works great". I might but for how long? From my experience there is always an "expiration date" with cheaper winches. Some like the Badlands from Harbor Freight will even carry a lifetime warranty so many people feel that if it fails, it's no big deal, they'll just go pick up a new one on Monday.
Sorry, but I'm not going to waste money on something that might not work at the exact moment when I NEED it to. Even if I could get a new replacement, the one that failed could have just left me stranded with my family. Could have resulted in a large offroad tow bill that cost more than the cost of a decent winch in the first place. I believe a winch is a tool that the user should be able to have complete trust in and that it will work when it's needed, every single time. It can be the difference between getting home or not, can be the difference between a safe recovery or an injury. I don't want to have even a minor question in my mind if the winch or going to work or not when I need it.

The only brands that have proven themselves to a level that I consider acceptable and will be consistently reliable are Warn and ComeUp. I've owned and used both brands, as well as Ramsey, Superwinch and Badlands. Last 3 winches have been ComeUps and will likely continue to be from ComeUp. Just not worth it to me to spend good money on something less when it comes to winches.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
@Box Rocket, from previous comments I've made don't think it's surprising to say I agree with you except to say I think Milemarker and Ramsey have earned their chance, too.

I would say Superwinch but with the Westin buyout I don't think you can assume their reliability until people have more time with them.

I'm hip to @Airmapper's point that buying a winch and completely disassembling it can increase trust. I don't know that to me that completely eliminates the risk of poorly made winch. The reason a cheap winch is cheap is that they'll have cut corners. Is that in the motor, gear train, brake? I dunno, but it has to be considered possible, if not likely.

That's not to say it's impossible for a Warn or other "good" brand not to break a shaft or whatever else. It's just that on balance I think the guts are going to be consistent and of higher quality.
 

Box Rocket

Well-known member
@Box Rocket, from previous comments I've made don't think it's surprising to say I agree with you except to say I think Milemarker and Ramsey have earned their chance, too.

I would say Superwinch but with the Westin buyout I don't think you can assume their reliability until people have more time with them.

I'm hip to @Airmapper's point that buying a winch and completely disassembling it can increase trust. I don't know that to me that completely eliminates the risk of poorly made winch. The reason a cheap winch is cheap is that they'll have cut corners. Is that in the motor, gear train, brake? I dunno, but it has to be considered possible, if not likely.

That's not to say it's impossible for a Warn or other "good" brand not to break a shaft or whatever else. It's just that on balance I think the guts are going to be consistent and of higher quality.
Pulling a winch apart and re sealing and greasing is good move with a cheap winch. Can absolutely help since water intrusion is one of the biggest enemies of a winch. Keep water out of the guts and out of the electronics will help it survive longer. However, poor quality steel on gears etc are the other way corners get cut on cheap winches. Doesn't matter how waterproof your winch is if you bust gears, or the drum etc. Either way you get left with a junk winch.
 

68camaro

Any River...Any Place
Personally, There are only two brands I have complete trust in. ComeUp and Warn (non-VR series Warn). There will be people all day long that will defend their less expensive winch and that it "works great". I might but for how long? From my experience there is always an "expiration date" with cheaper winches. Some like the Badlands from Harbor Freight will even carry a lifetime warranty so many people feel that if it fails, it's no big deal, they'll just go pick up a new one on Monday.
Sorry, but I'm not going to waste money on something that might not work at the exact moment when I NEED it to. Even if I could get a new replacement, the one that failed could have just left me stranded with my family. Could have resulted in a large offroad tow bill that cost more than the cost of a decent winch in the first place. I believe a winch is a tool that the user should be able to have complete trust in and that it will work when it's needed, every single time. It can be the difference between getting home or not, can be the difference between a safe recovery or an injury. I don't want to have even a minor question in my mind if the winch or going to work or not when I need it.

The only brands that have proven themselves to a level that I consider acceptable and will be consistently reliable are Warn and ComeUp. I've owned and used both brands, as well as Ramsey, Superwinch and Badlands. Last 3 winches have been ComeUps and will likely continue to be from ComeUp. Just not worth it to me to spend good money on something less when it comes to winches.
Look, no doubt top end is way better than low end, but reality is for me (OP) anyway, winch is safety backup on van driven mostly on asphalt and very small percentage off-road. While a 12k lb synthetic line Rough Country winch is $500, the Warn is $1,780.......thats not an insignificant difference for me. For those that "wheel" and look for obstacles then sure, the Warn is probably worth it, but even then there are tons of reviews on cheaper units that have been performing for years, plus not all can drop close to 2k on winch. I don't think too many vehicles are sitting on trails rotting because owner installed cheap winch.

Now, if a day comes that I get stuck and winch fails you can bet I will curse it and myself up and down for being cheap..LOL
 

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Box Rocket

Well-known member
Look, no doubt top end is way better than low end, but reality is for me (OP) anyway, winch is safety backup on van driven mostly on asphalt and very small percentage off-road. While a 12k lb synthetic line Rough Country winch is $500, the Warn is $1,780.......thats not an insignificant difference for me. For those that "wheel" and look for obstacles then sure, the Warn is probably worth it, but even then there are tons of reviews on cheaper units that have been performing for years, plus not all can drop close to 2k on winch. I don't think too many vehicles are sitting on trails rotting because owner installed cheap winch.

Now, if a day comes that I get stuck and winch fails you can bet I will curse it and myself up and down for being cheap..LOL
Never said, anyone was just abandoning vehicles because they got stuck and couldn't get out. LOL. You're welcome to do as you wish. Your original post was looking for options and opinions, and I shared mine. I realize not everyone will share my opinion. There will always be those who justify spending less on a less expensive winch. No problem. If the winch doesn't work when they need it, they only have themselves to blame. If they're fortunate enough to not need it more than once or twice a year and it works the few times they need it before selling the vehicle, then great.

The "buy once, cry once" philosophy is usually where I land. A similar idea that might even be more applicable; I'm too poor to spend money on cheap gear. Not saying you're wrong, just that I approach it differently.
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
That's a pretty broad brush you are slopping paint around with, Box Rocket. High prices are no surety of quality anymore, not in an era of globalization. And especially not in faddish 'Overlanding'. Even Warn's more affordable product lines have foreign-sourced parts, these days. That's why they're 'affordable'.

I'm still occasionally looking for videos on the Badlands 12k that aren't made by jackass millenials who don't seem to know what they are doing, generally. Which seem to be the only group breaking them (and pretty much everything else they're abusing). And the only circumstances where they aren't getting the job done.

'buy once, cry once' is overrated. I've got too many hobbies / interests / demands on my wallet to pay top dollar on hoary old brand loyalties. All I care about is if something works. And blanket statements about brands or cost-value assertions don't mean much. Just because something costs less doesn't mean it is worse.


eta here's a huge 12yr-long 'Harbor Freight PASS/FAIL topic at GarageJournal.com, with a lot of reviews and direct experiences. It's very useful for finding the good value products. Rather than just saying 'buy once cry once' and dismissing a whole range of products.
 
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Box Rocket

Well-known member
That's a pretty broad brush you are slopping paint around with, Box Rocket. High prices are no surety of quality anymore, not in an era of globalization. And especially not in faddish 'Overlanding'. Even Warn's more affordable product lines have foreign-sourced parts, these days. That's why they're 'affordable'.

I'm still occasionally looking for videos on the Badlands 12k that aren't made by jackass millenials who don't seem to know what they are doing, generally. Which seem to be the only group breaking them (and pretty much everything else they're abusing). And the only circumstances where they aren't getting the job done.

'buy once, cry once' is overrated. I've got too many hobbies / interests / demands on my wallet to pay top dollar on hoary old brand loyalties. All I care about is if something works. And blanket statements about brands or cost-value assertions don't mean much. Just because something costs less doesn't mean it is worse.


eta here's a huge 12yr-long 'Harbor Freight PASS/FAIL topic at GarageJournal.com, with a lot of reviews and direct experiences. It's very useful for finding the good value products. Rather than just saying 'buy once cry once' and dismissing a whole range of products.
You must not have read my first comment in this discussion. When I say, “buy once, cry once” that most definitely does not mean just go out and buy the most expensive piece of gear because it must be the best if it’s the most expensive. It also does not mean that the least expensive option is the worst. If we want to have a separate discussion about that topic we can but I intentionally didn’t bother to go into depth of what I believe that statement means.

I have a number of pieces of gear that I believe are very good (maybe even the best of what they are) that are far from the most expensive.

On the topic at hand, winches, I’m not just buying into some hype that the brands I choose are the right brands because of cost. There are, in fact, more expensive options than the ones I personally choose. I’m also not just a “warn fanboy” saying it’s the best because it’s American. Actually I have come to prefer ComeUp winches, even after owning a few different Warn winches, and many may not know that ComeUp is a Taiwanese company.
I’m also not exactly a fresh, inexperienced user. Not that time spent proves anything but I’ve been driving offroad and using winches for more than 30 years and have personally owned several different brands and have experience using and watching the use of many more different brands. I’m I an expert? I wouldn’t say that but I do have enough experience that I feel confident in my opinion.
Everyone is welcome to form their own opinions. But my experience with a range of different winches is what forms my personal choice. So it’s fine that you say I’m slopping paint around with a broad brush. Years of use and practice have helped me be able to wield that brush and it works for me. I’m fully aware and fine with it not working for everyone else.
 

68camaro

Any River...Any Place
Why do you think you need a winch at all?
Good question, really not sure I do to be honest, I don't consider myself an Overlander but use the overlanding ideas and ethos to get me off-grid to fish. My rig is class B+/C camper, it is 21' long, 9,500lbs, 10'5" high and 7.7" wide plus departure angle low due to only 14" rear clearance even with 4.5" lift. On east coast our trails are narrow with low canopy or trees obstructing path. I think the size of my rig is way more limiting than it being 2wd, again this is east coast.

I travel alone and boonebock off the beaten path but they are fire or forest road trails, My biggest concern is waking up or getting ready to move and rains soften ground enough under me or on way out and becomes slick enough that I need help. I think maxtrax in this situation would help, plus I can air down as I carry compressor, guages etc..

On east coast we have tons of trees so finding a tree is never an issue. The other concern is steep grade that becomes slick and need help getting up, but there is only one place I go to where I am concerned about this. Another thought is beach sand if I ever decided to take rig surf fishing.

So really winch is just a piece-of-mind insurance device that hopefully works when I need it. If it doesn't I have other gear to get out or I can wait for help to snatch or winch we out.

I don't have winch on my 4wd Jeep wk2 but if I did it would be a Warn since I take that into far rougher areas than camper van but still have never needed a winch with it. Even with its capabilities I don't rock crawl or go mudding with it so never got stuck.
 

68camaro

Any River...Any Place
Looks great! Thanks!
Your original post was looking for options and opinions, and I shared mine. I realize not everyone will share my opinion.
Your opinion was appreciated, the reason I started thread was because I was really torn between the two and kept vacillating back and forth. Decision is now made so I need to live with it, hopefully it all works out, better still hopefully I don't need it.
 
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