Winch Tech: Buying Used
That winch looks so tempting on Craigslist and you don’t have the money for a brand-new one. Is it worth the risk of buying used? It might be. We’ll take you through all of the parts to check out before you plunk down the cash on that well-used winch. We may save you a few hundred dollars in your future.
Just like buying anything second-hand, you’ll need to test out a winch before you buy it. When you drive out to that location agreed upon for purchase, bring your gloves, a spare battery and jumper leads. If the owner admits the winch isn’t working, ask them for an estimate of repair, or if there was a diagnosis. It may end up being something you can repair at home. Be sure to visually inspect the winch. Is there rust anywhere? Is there corrosion on the solenoid leads? Broken or exposed wiring? Is the controller broken or missing?
If everything looks alright and the winch supposedly works, test it out. Take your jumper leads and battery out of your truck and hook it up to the winch. Engage the clutch and push the button to pull the line out. When you pull the line out, check it as well. Metal cables should be intact and have no frayed portions. Synthetic cable should also be free of frays and worn spots. Also, how did the motor sound as you were pulling the cable out? Did it sound smooth, or like a blender with some spoons in it?
Now, allow the winch to pull the cable back in. Again, listen to it and feel how it pulls against the cable. It should feel smooth — not jerky. When you get close to the winch, look at the fairlead — if it is a roller type, do the rollers spin freely? If it is a Hawse fairlead for synthetic rope, is it damaged, and are any portions of it going to cut into the line? Now, disengage the clutch and pull the line again — does it pull freely or does it not want to pull out at all? How does it feel as you pull out the line?
Finally, open up the solenoid box on the winch. How do the terminals look? Do the solenoids look like they have any burned spots? Does the cabling to and from the solenoid look good? Are the connectors in good condition? If any of this looks suspect, use all of these as a negotiating point, or even a reason to walk away. There is no sense in buying a $100 winch if you’re going to end up spending $1,000 on it.
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image [Jp Magazine]