How To Test A Winch Motor

Last Updated on September 21, 2022 by Automobile Note

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If you are regularly using your winch for maintenance and recovery projects, there is a high chance that the motor is not in optimal condition. Well, that is quite normal to happen with regular use. But how to tell if a winch motor is bad? Do you just take it to a shop and get the winch checked up? Not really!

If you know how to test a winch motor, you can save yourself and your money by visiting a mechanic shop. And even though testing out the winch motor might seem pretty complicated, it is not! You just have to know what to do, which is exactly what we will break down in this guide!

You should keep a couple of safety factors in your mind. 
  • Secondly, you should wear proper gloves, rubber shoes, and safety goggles while carrying out the tests.
  • Then, you should get rid of anything flammable from your working area. Also, the same thing applies to water.
  • Finally, if you get confused while testing the motor, seek professional help.

Testing a Winch Motor: Jumper Cable Test

Whether you want to test a warn winch motor, or renowned Smittybilt or any other popular brands, the first thing you should do is follow the jumper cable testing method. And the steps you will need to follow for this process are as follows:

Step 1: Prepare the Battery and Connect the Winch

First, you will need to prepare the power source. You could rely on your vehicle's battery or use a spare battery. Using the jump leads, you would need to connect the battery and winch. Remember to get the black cable on the negative terminal and the red one on the positive terminal.

Step 2: Prepare the Winch

Now, you will need to work with the free end of the black cable. Connect it to one of the terminals of the winch. And for the other terminal of your winch, you will need to use the red cable. Tap it to the terminal, which will make you get an electrical response from your winch.

Step 3: Check the Motor

At this point, the winch drum will start moving if the motor is working properly.

However, if it does not, the motor has a problem. So, you should stop the process right away.

That said, if the winch drum moves, as usual, you will need to get the red cable connected to the terminal. That will make the drum continuously run.

Jumper Cable Test

Possible Solutions

If the motor does not work, a fuse might have blown. It is more of an electrical problem, and the fuse might have blown due to the winch drawing too much power. And if you notice that the fuse is burned, you should get it replaced.

Furthermore, there might be damaged wires inside the winch. Those might be causing a short circuit and hindering the motor from running. The damage might also be in the switch itself.

So, check for exposed wires by taking a look inside.

Lastly, if you had noticed a spark when the positive cable touched the terminal, there is no problem with the electrical connection. But if the winch did not move, the motor brushes might have given up. You should open the housing and get the broken brushes.

Testing Your Winch Motor: Voltage Drop Test

If you want to carry out a test to see if the electrical components are working correctly or not, you will need to check the voltage. For that, follow these:

Step 1: Get a Multimeter

Get yourself a multimeter and make it go to the VDC setting.

Step 2: Connect the Probes

Connect one of the probes to the grounding of your winch. You will need to get it connected to the yellow or blue cable for the other probe.

Step 3: Compare the Readings

Activate the multimeter and the winch. Consider the running voltage of the winch. Match it with the voltage reading you are getting with the multimeter.

If the numbers are off, there is a problem with the electronic parts of the winch. But if the numbers are close, there is no problem with the parts.

Possible Fix

You can quickly fix the voltage drop issue. First, disconnect the battery and get yourself a brake cleaning liquid.

Using a toothbrush, spray and clean the motor with the cleaning solution.

Also, use the liquid to clean the housing. Wait for things to dr and assemble the parts. Check for voltage drop again by following the steps.

How to Bench Test the Motor of a Winch

Sometimes, the voltage drop and jumper cable test will offer you no valuable information. In that case, you would want to carry out a thorough test, which is the bench test.

This testing process will give you a more accurate and detailed reading. And the steps that you would need to follow for the bench test are:

Step 1: Prepare the Winch

Disconnect your winch from the vehicle and put it on the bench. Ensure that the winch is secure to the bench, or you will face issues while testing out the motor.

Step 2: Work with the Cables

Now, you will need to get the earth cable and connect it with the earth terminal of the motor. It is usually the bolt on the bottom of the winch. Then, connect a cable from terminal A and terminal F1.

Step 3: Start Checking the Motor

Check the polarity by using a live cable. Connect that cable to terminal F2. Then, test the polarity by connecting a line from terminal A and terminal F2. Connect the live cable to terminal F1.

Our Endnote

See? It is pretty easy to learn how to test a winch motor! You do not need to spend your valuable time and money getting the winch checked up by a professional.

Just follow the methods and steps we have gone through and see if there is anything wrong with the motor or not.

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  • How To Make A Winch From A Starter Motor

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