What Size Winch For Car Trailer: A Comprehensive Guide

If you own a car trailer then you must have an always omnipresent tool, a car trailer winch.

Without it, you can’t be pulling or towing heavy loads onto the trailer. But what size winch for a car trailer should you buy? As there are so many options to choose from when it comes to buying this handy tool.

This post will address all the factors to consider while selecting the appropriate winch for your car trailer.

Let’s begin.

How Do You Know What Size Winch To Get

There are so many different manufacturers and types of winches that it can be difficult to decide which one is best for you. First, we need to know the types of winch that are typically available. 

Hydraulic winch and electric car trailer winch are the two main categories of winches. The best winches for heavy-duty tasks are hydraulic ones. Electric winches, on the other hand, are designed for pulling cars in various circumstances. These are lightweight and cannot run for extended periods due to heating issues.

Whatever winch you may choose, the capacity of the winch is an important factor. A good rule of thumb is to get a winch with a capacity of 1.5 times the gross vehicle weight.

Winch Size >= 1.5 x GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)

Another thing to consider is the type of terrain you’ll be riding on. For rough terrains, a winch with higher capacity can come in handy.

What Size Winch For Car Trailer

When you are looking to buy a winch for your car trailer, there are a few things to take into consideration. You’ll be using the winch for loading and unloading heavy items onto and off of trailers. So the following factors will determine the size of your winch:

Gross vehicle weight and Rolling weight

Determine the gross vehicle weight of the car you’ll be pulling. Then multiply it by 1.5. You need a winch that is capable of pulling this much weight for safe winching. Car trailer winches are used to pull tractors, boats and other vehicles onto the trailer.

The majority of these loads have wheels and are categorized as rolling loads. The rolling load of a vehicle can be calculated by multiplying the GVW with 1/4. Therefore, it enables the winch to pull a load greater than that which it is rated to pull.

Ramps Slope

Find out the minimum rated line pull (RLP) to winch a rolling load onto the trailer. You need the grade% and GVW to find out RLP(rated line pull).

Grade% = Ramp Height Ramp Length

Find the size of the winch you need with the GVW and Grade% from the chart below:

Layers of rope around the winch drum

Winches are rated using only one layer of wire rope wrapped around the drum and tugging against a static load. However, a winch pulling capacity decreases as the rope is drawn in and layered on the drum while it is in use.

Will A 2500lb Winch Pull A Car on A Trailer?

Yes, a winch with a 2500 lbs rated capacity can pull in a rolling load of 12,563 lbs. at a 10% incline. A typical car would weigh around 4500 lbs. This means you can use this winch to easily pull a car onto the trailer. 

Will A 3000lb Winch Pull A Car on A Trailer?

It’s possible to pull a rolling load of 15075 lbs at a 10% incline by a winch of 3000 lbs rated capability. So you can use it to pull a car onto the trailer. But keep in mind that this is only applicable for rolling loads and won’t be able to winch out a car stuck on mud or rough terrains.

What Size Winch for Race Car Trailer

The size of the winch matters a lot when it comes to choosing the right one for your trailer. It depends on the type of vehicle and its weight.

A reliable method is to choose a car trailer winch that has an indicated capacity that is 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle. 

How Do You Mount A Winch On A  Car Trailer?

Mounting a winch on your car trailer is one of the best ways to tow heavy loads. It can be a challenging task because you need to get creative and improvise depending on the car trailer you own.

There are many types of car trailers available and the most common among them are flatbed trailers, tilt deck trailers, enclosed trailers and gooseneck trailers. Each of these trailers requires different mounting techniques.

Mounting On Flatbed Trailer

One of the ways you can mount a flatbed trailer winch is on the railing using a receiver hitch mount.

If there is no railing on the trailer you’ll need to use a car trailer winch mount

on the floor bed using bolts.

Mounting on Tilt Deck Trailer

When using a tilt deck trailer, the winch must be placed on the lower deck using a winch plate. The winch is put on the mounting plate after it has been attached to the deck.

Another approach is to install the winch to the deck using a winch plate mount with a hitch combo bar.

Mounting on Enclosed Trailer

When putting a winch on an enclosed trailer, you have several options. 

Method-1: You can mount the winch on the trailer floor using a mounting bracket. Keep the winch 6 inches above the floor for preventing any damage to the cable

Method-2: Secure the winch using an in-floor winch mount. You’ll need to cut the floor of your trailer to match the winch mount’s measurements. After that, just bolt the winch in. This method is great for saving space in your trailer.

Method-3: Use a trailer tool box to mount the winch to the trailer’s frame.

Mounting On Gooseneck Trailer

On a gooseneck trailer, you’ll be using a custom mount for the winch. First, mark the space on the middle of the trailer aligning with the mounting plate and drill it. Be careful to line them up properly with the location of the winch mount position. Attach the mount to the trailer floor and the winch on the mount using bolts. You can use a D-ring for easily lifting heavy weights.

Can You Wire a Winch to A Trailer Plug?

The power coming from the trailer’s plug is not sufficient enough to run an electric winch. You have two options to power the trailer winch kit. The first one is to connect your vehicle’s power source to the winch using a quick disconnect.

The other one is to use a separate battery that acts as the power source to run your car trailer winch with a wireless remote.

Final Thoughts

You don’t need the biggest winch money can buy for your car trailer.  There are many factors to consider while deciding what size winch for a car trailer should you buy.

We hope this post has helped you understand all the important aspects and you’ll have an easier time selecting a winch. 

Ricardo Vaughn
Ricardo Vaughn

Vaughn is a seasoned off-roading expert and professional winch specialist. When he's not out on the trails, he shares his knowledge and experiences through his writing as a blog author in the off-roading and outdoor lifestyle space.

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