Getting stuck is part of Jeeping. Not that you are trying to get stuck (although I know some people sure look like they are); sometimes it simply happens. Occasionally, your Jeeping takes you to places where safety requires an extra measure of security.
Whatever the circumstances, eventually it will happen. If you have a winch mounted on the front of your rig, then you will find an excuse to use it. And when you do, it’s very important that you understand that you are using a very powerful tool that needs to be treated with respect. No column can possibly cover every winching situation, so I will offer this blanket disclaimer: Each situation is unique and needs to be considered with an eye toward safety and common sense. Think your situation through carefully before pulling the cable.
First, a few words about winches and related recovery equipment. It is important to get enough winch for the task. Too little, and it may not get the job done; too much, and your Jeep will sag under unnecessary weight. 8000-9000 pound line rating is appropriate for a trail-ready Jeep.
Bigger winches (10,000-15,000) are for bigger trucks. Smaller winches (2,500-6,000) are for ATVs and rock buggies. The stresses and strains put on the vehicle while winching can be severe, and the hardware must be up to the task. Do not skimp on quality at this point. Buy the best winch you can afford, and make sure that it is mounted correctly.
Before you go Jeeping, you need to pre-load the winch cable. Make sure it is properly mounted on the drum, and pull yourself slightly up hill. This is important to get the factory wraps off the drum and get the cable seated. It’s also a good way to test the winch in a controlled environment. If something doesn’t work properly, you have the luxury of going back to the garage to fix it.