Inexpensive vs. Expensive Winch

68camaro

Any River...Any Place
Have new bumper with winch plate being installed on 9,500lb Chinook on E-350 van chasis, lifted , dually and good tires. Looking at winches but wondering if I need a real expensive one or would the cheaper units out there suffice.

I do not rock crawl, go mudding or look for trouble. I do go down lots of forest, fire trails and sneaky little out of the way seldom used but not bad dirt roads all looking for that great boonedocking camping spot to get me closer to early morning fishing. I do have other recovery gear but I travel alone so self-help is paramount.

I suppose any trouble would be an unexpected mudhole, soft camping terrrain where it rained overnight or slip in rut with occasional help up steep incline, however I have not needed winch yet and hope to ever need it. If I ran into area I thought I would really need it I would go to plan B.

I am looking at 12k synthetic line (due to weight considerations) and at several local 4wd shops the people recommend cheaper units and say they use them and highly recommended, some ideas are Rough Country, Harbor Freight, Superwinch...any other ideas?

Any reason not to get cheaper unit if seldom to rarely ever used?
 

jadmt

Well-known member
Check out warn vr series. Made in china but still has excellent warn support and i have used one since they first came out and has always worked. i would be more worried about one that rarely gets used as on many of the cheaper ones the contactors and solenoids are not sealed very well so water gets in and they corrode.
 

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CampStewart

Observer
I would consider where the vehicle spends most of its life and the environment it lives in. If stored inside in a climate where rust and humidity is not an issue than a cheaper winch will probably be fine. The more it gets away from an ideal environment to large temp fluctuations, salt, corrosion, etc the more important a top line winch becomes.
 

68camaro

Any River...Any Place
I would consider where the vehicle spends most of its life and the environment it lives in. If stored inside in a climate where rust and humidity is not an issue than a cheaper winch will probably be fine. The more it gets away from an ideal environment to large temp fluctuations, salt, corrosion, etc the more important a top line winch becomes.
I live in Virginia and we rarely get snow so salt almost never used. Go steelhead fishing in NE once or twice a winter so I can probably spray down winch real good once get home. Thanks for heads up!
 

roving1

Well-known member
I went with the Warn VR to split the difference between expensive and cheap and known and unknown. I also knew it fit in my limited space application.

I have been happy with it so far but it has lead an easy life mainly winching trees off of trails. But so far so good FWIW.
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
The only bad things I'm finding about the Badlands 12k are folks bad mouthing it for being Harbor Freight, and some youts who don't seem to know wtf they are doing in general. I'm finding a lot of good / satisfied reviews for it.
I'm in sort of the same place, low probability of use, and a real good combo of price and performance. I think I'm going with it. And it's often on sale for $329 or even $299.

Finally getting around to completing my own winch project, only thing I haven't bought yet is the winch itself. PRetty sure it's going to be the ZXR 12000. Already photochopping it in.

 

Mickey Bitsko

Adventurer
Like every other mechanical device, they need occasional operation to function properly when needed.
Similar to occasional operation of your 4 wheel drive . Don't wait till you need it then call it a POS cause it doesn't work.. it's on YOU!
The only guarantee you get with any winch is the guarantee it'll sink in water.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Any reason not to get cheaper unit if seldom to rarely ever used?
I don't think there's a universal answer, sometime people get lucky with a cheap winch while another unlucky with an expensive one. I think statistically you'll find what you expect, though, that you get what you pay for most of the time.

I might suggest to consider long term ownership, how well the seals are designed will determine how often you need to service the winch, how easy is it to get support and parts. The low end winches I've seen personally that worked well didn't come like that out of the box. The guys tore down and rebuilt them immediately, which is fine but wouldn't lead me to trust it much initially.

That's really what you're asking I think, can you trust this or that winch? I dunno. I know I trust my XD9000 but that's because I've had it about 10 years, I've rebuilt it twice (bought it used, so initially and again a couple of years ago) and have used it a lot. That's what it boils down to, check seals and grease, run it under load enough to know it works and isn't going to release the magic smoke.
 
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nitro_rat

On a Suburban Excursion
I have personally had at least 4 badlands 12k's, you either get a good one or a turd. If you pull apart the planets and properly grease them they will work better. Next upgrade is replacing the contactor with something better. The weak spot is the brake. The brakes give up in them when worked hard.

After all the hassle with going through them and reworking the weak spots I've found it's more cost effective for me to buy a broken Warn and rebuild it. I put an ebay chinese motor on a free Warn M8000 probably 5 years ago and got excellent service out of that winch. When I moved to the Excursion in December I found a M12000 with no motor or solenoids for $400. I moved the motor and control pack/wiring from the M8000 to the M12000.

The Warn is much more sturdily built than the cheap winches. No comparison. Ina head to head the Badlands is faster than the Warn but it doesn't pull as hard at rated load.

I work my winches hard and synthetic rope isn't an option for me. The brake gets the drum too hot for the synthetic and it just isn't abrasion resistant. Steel rope is also easier to splice. If your rig is so heavy that weight is a concern I would be concerned that synthetic isn't up to the task...
 

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Westy

Adventurer
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.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
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.
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.
 
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