How To Free Spool A Warn Winch

Last Updated on September 21, 2022 by Automobile Note

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A winch with a weight capacity matching your vehicle can recover you safely. To begin with the recovery process you must unwind the winch cable that normally stay wrapped around the winch drum. Free spooling is one of the two ways to roll out the winch rope and say the safest. This is the case with the winches manufactured by Warn. Now, the question is how to free spool a warn winch?

Yes the first thing you need in a winch recovery when you stuck, ditched, or left stranded in your off-road trip, is the winch. And to start the process with warn winch, you must spool the cable but a warn winch won't spool out with a clutch engaged on the drum side.

You need to free spool winch cable for two reasons. Firstly, when you are on the go and stuck, one of the foremost thing to be careful is your battery charge. Free spooling the cable saves your battery charge and a battery with more charge can help you recover faster and can serve you longer.

Secondly, it is more convenient to keep track of the cable length when you manually spool the winch string. That is very important to keep the needed tension while recovery task is on. On top of all these, free spooling of any kind of winch is the fastest, easiest, and safest way to roll out the winch cable. Not to forget, warn winch stuck in free spool means the clutch is still attached with the drum. Disengage it first and start the process of free spooling.

5 Steps To Free Spool a Warn Winch Efficiently

Being a winch from a particular manufacturer doesn’t make the spooling process any different. 

Therefore, it is all the same when you spool a warn winch manually. It may seem to the novice off-roader that free spooling is just pulling the cable out of the wrap. No, it is not that simple.

One of the crucial feature of a warn winch is its clutch mechanism that makes the spooling a bit complicated but not that complicated that a precise guide cannot help you accomplish it successfully and safely. Here you go with the free spooling process broken down into simple and easy steps:

Step 1: Disengage the Clutch

In a warn winch, there remains a clutch on the side of the winch drum that stops the drum from rolling while winching is going on. Therefore, the drum will not roll so long the clutch is engaged. 

You must disengage the clutch and let the drum move freely to roll out the string to free spool it. Therefore before going hands-on, make sure that the clutch is not attached with the drum so that the drum can rotate free and fast. Warn winch wont engage the clutch so long you do not put it back to its previous position and you can unspool undisturbed.

Given warn winch comes featured with multiple clutch attachment, it can be overwhelming to detach the drum successfully. To avoid any risk, you get help from your winch manual that can guide you efficiently on a specific clutch operation appropriately.

Step 2: Wear Leather Gloves

Spooling requires you grab the cable or rope tightly and pull it with force. Bare hand pulling will injure your palm and fingers gravely. Therefore, you must wear thickly padded leather gloves with heavy finger seals. This can only can give the needed protection against the metal cable with frays and kinks.

Step 3: Release the Winch Hook

Release the winch hook to append it with the band of the hook. You cannot start pulling the string without appending it with the hook band.

Step 4: Pull the Needful

Now, it’s time to pull winch cable so long it doesn’t reach the anchor point. Make sure that the winch string maintain a certain amount of tension. A too loose rope can go twisted, tangled, and coiled leading to delay and cable injury.

Step 5: Connect the cable and Anchor Point

To go literally, the spooling job is done with the sufficient length of string pulled out of the drum wrap. But given the purpose of free spooling or engine spooling is recovery with safety, you must attach the winch cable with the anchor point successfully. To do that, you must secure the tree trunk protector around the tree or whatever your anchor is. And then engage the winch hook to the D-shackle.

Once you have determined where or what you will anchor with, you must check that the anchor is sturdy enough to hold the pull of the vehicle or object you want to recover. If it is not a stable or immovable something, you may end up damaging your car, winch, and even hurting you badly. 

warn winch stuck in free spool

Precautions To Take When Free Spooling Winch Cable

These are all if your lookout is to free spool your warn winch. But you must take some precautions to conclude job with success. Below you can learn about the precaution you cannot ignore while unspooling winch manually.

  • Be careful of the remote control and you should never leave it in a condition that it may get activated while manual spooling is on.
  • Whatever the string is made of, you cannot take the risk of performing the unspooling with bare hand.
  • Do not try to engage or disengage the clutch if and when the winch is loaded. Messing with the clutch when the string is strained can hurt you irreparably and within no time.
  • Free spooling must be accomplished with furnished hook strap to avoid you mishap and the vehicle or winch any damage.
  • Never ever apply too much of pressure while spooling manually. This is a giant compared to you and it can betray and rebel when forced. Therefore, free spool the string with maximum ease and minimum effort.
  • Keep your hands totally discharged of the cable, hook loop, fairlead, and remote control so long unspooling is on.


Free spooling a winch string is a huge benefit as it takes longer to unspool the winch cable with the winch engine. Moreover, the motor brushes and the car battery go strained that is not wise if you are a frequent or occasional off-road traveler. Therefore, if you are to unspool your warn winch cable; do it manually and that is all about to free spool a warn winch cable.

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