What Size Winch for A Car Trailer?

What Size Winch for A Car Trailer?

The uses of an electric winch are so many that they are almost endless. It can help us load, unload or recover a vehicle efficiently. If a vehicle gets stuck, a trailer winch will free you. However, when using a car trailer to tow a vehicle with a winch, it is important to use a right size car trailer winch.

If you choose an incorrect size winch, you may have difficulty towing your vehicle, damage to the winch, and other problems that can lead to delays and even vehicle damage.

car trailer winch

How to choose a winch for a car trailer?

1. Total Weight

The most critical factor to consider is the combined weight of your car trailer and the vehicle you plan to tow. Calculate the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of your trailer, which includes the weight of the trailer itself and the maximum load it can carry. Add the weight of the vehicle you intend to tow to this number.

2. Type of Vehicle

Different vehicles have different weights and sizes. A small sedan will require a lighter winch compared to a heavy-duty truck or SUV. Take into account the weight and dimensions of the vehicle you plan to transport.

3. Winch Capacity

Once you have the total weight, you should choose a winch with a capacity slightly higher than that figure. It’s a good practice to have a winch that can handle 1.5 times the total weight to provide a safety margin.

4. Winch Type

Consider whether you want an electric winch or a hydraulic winch. Electric winches are more common and suitable for most applications, while hydraulic winches are powerful but may require additional equipment and maintenance.

Electronic winch for car trailer
hydraulic winch on car trailer
hydraulic winch for car trailer

5. Line Speed

The line speed of a winch determines how quickly it can pull in or release the cable. If you need to load and unload vehicles frequently, a winch with a faster line speed might be more convenient.

Other Influencing Factors

1. Pulley System

If you are using a pulley system, you can use a smaller winch with less pulling force to tow heavier loads. The pulley system’s role is to double the winch’s pulling force. You can connect the winch rope to an anchor point on the pulley system, such as a tree. Then, route it back to a sturdy point on the trailer, like a D-ring or the trailer frame. So, you can utilize a pulley system when you need to temporarily use a winch with a lower-rated capacity to tow a heavier vehicle.

However, even in this case, it is recommended to use a winch with a rated capacity equal to the trailer’s weight to prevent potential safety incidents.

2. Rolling Weight

Slope also affects the winch’s required pulling force, with steeper angles demanding greater force. Using the table below, you can determine the minimum Rated Line Pull (RLP) needed to safely winch a rolling load onto your trailer. You can calculate the required RLP by considering the slope of your trailer or ramps and the weight of the vehicle being towed.

Tips: RLP is an important winch parameter that represents the weight the winch can pull perpendicular to the ground with a single line on the first layer of wire rope on the drum. You can directly check this value in the parameter table.

Rate Line Pull (RLP) 10% Slope 20% Slope 40% Slope 60% Slope 80% Slope 100% Slope
1,000 lbs 5,025 lbs 3,401 lbs 2,155 lbs 1,664 lbs 1,422 lbs 1,285 lbs
1,500 lbs 7,538 lbs 5,102 lbs 3,233 lbs 2,496 lbs 2,134 lbs 1,928 lbs
2,000 lbs 10,050 lbs 6,803 lbs 4,308 lbs 3,331 lbs 2,175 lbs 2,845 lbs
2,500 lbs 12,563 lbs 8,503 lbs 5,388 lbs 4,160 lbs 3,556 lbs 3,213 lbs
3,000 lbs 15,075 lbs 10,251 lbs 6,428 lbs 4,991 lbs 4,268 lbs 3,854 lbs
3,500 lbs 17,588 lbs 11,905 lbs 7,543 lbs 5,824 lbs 4,979 lbs 4,499 lbs
4,000 lbs 20,100 lbs 13,597 lbs 8,643 lbs 6,655 lbs 5,690 lbs 5,138 lbs
4,500 lbs 22,613 lbs 15,306 lbs 9,698 lbs 7,488 lbs 6,401 lbs 5,784 lbs
5,000 lbs 25,126 lbs 17,009 lbs 10,776 lbs 8,320 lbs 7,112 lbs 6,427 lbs
6,000 lbs 30,151 lbs 20,408 lbs 12,931 lbs 9,983 lbs 8,535 lbs 7,712 lbs
9,000 lbs 45,226 lbs 30,612 lbs 19,397 lbs 14,975 lbs 12,802 lbs 11,568 lbs
12,500 lbs 62,812 lbs 42,492 lbs 26,926 lbs 20,825 lbs 17,786 lbs 16,071 lbs
16,500 lbs 82,911 lbs 56,089 lbs 35,542 lbs 27,489 lbs 23,478 lbs 21,213 lbs
Slope = Vertical Rise / Horizontal Distance

If you plan to use a winch frequently, it is advisable to inform the trailer supplier of your winch requirements when purchasing the trailer. Three Horses Trailer is a professional trailer supplier that offers customization services. When you specify your need for a winch, they will reserve a location for winch installation during the construction process and select an appropriate winch for you to install. Compared to buying a winch separately later on, this approach saves you the hassle of DIY installation and provides added convenience.

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Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to explore our trailer and discuss how we can meet your unique requirements.

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