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How to Mount a Winch on a Trailer

A white boat being pulled out of water and onto a trailer

Winches have a multitude of capabilities. Some can be used to help free a vehicle if it gets stuck. Others can be used to pull a car or boat onto a trailer. Some winches are also designed to lift and hoist, which allows them to function like a crane.

Learning how to mount a winch on a trailer can help you make the most of this product’s many uses. Note that this may be a fairly difficult task for those with no prior experience. It requires you to use a drill, with a second person to provide assistance. Installation can take an hour or more, and you’ll need the following items:

  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • Winch and winch kit
  • Drill
  • Ratchet set
  • 3/8-inch bolts

How to Mount a Winch on a Trailer

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

Step 1: Use the tape measure to locate the center of the trailer between its two longest sides. Choose a spot that’s as close to the front of the trailer as possible.

Step 2: With the marker, indicate the spot you’ve selected. This is where the winch will be mounted.

Step 3: Remove the winch template from the winch kit. This template is a flat metal sheet cut in the same shape as the winch. It has holes that will allow you to attach the winch to the trailer.

Step 4: Center the winch template on the spot you’ve marked at the front of the trailer. Trace the outline of the winch using the marker, and use the marker to indicate the spots where the template’s holes meet the trailer.

Step 5: Drill holes in the trailer on the spots you just marked. Place the winch so its holes line up with the holes you’ve drilled. Ask the person who’s assisting you to hold the winch in place.

Step 6: On your back, slide underneath the trailer with the ratchet set and bolts in hand. Insert a bolt in each hole to make sure the winch is properly aligned.

Step 7: Use the ratchet set to screw each bolt in place.

Step 8: Drill a hole in the trailer that you can use to connect the winch’s cables to your trailer’s battery. Take the rubber from the winch kit and insert it into the hole, then run the winch’s cables through the hole to the trailer’s battery.

Step 9: Affix the cable’s red wire to the battery’s positive post and the black wire to its negative one.

That’s it — you’re all done! Give yourself a pat on the back for having completed what can be a somewhat complex task. Now that your winch is in place and good to go, you’re ready to explore everything this versatile device has to offer.

Check out all the winches available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to mount a winch on a trailer, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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