How Does a PTO Winch Work

Last Updated on July 3, 2021

The winches have a long reputation for their duty. Whether you talk about lifting or recovery purposes, the winches are always handy to use and also doing a great job. In fact, the winch is a blessing for mankind.

You will find there are several types of winch you know such as hydraulic winches, electrical winches, hand-operated winches and portable winch. Each of the winches is designed specifically for individual tasks.

However, there is another type of winch available in the market that is quite unknown to you. The name of those winches is PTO winches. This winch holds some excellent features comparing with other winches found in the market.

In this article, I will be talking about the PTO winch. I will cover the capacity of this winch, how does the winch work and how you can use this winch. So, let’s get started.

Also Read: Difference Between Electric Winch and PTO Winch

PTO Winches

Well, the PTO stands for Power Take-off winch. This type of winch is not similar to the recovery winch you mostly use for your vehicle’s recovery purposes. There are some massive differences.

At first, the PTO winch is quite different from the hydraulic and electric winch due to its source of power. The PTO winch uses the gearbox transmission as its power source instead of using your vehicle’s battery. Apart from that, this type of winch is much efficient and faster than the other winch. The working procedure is the same though.

How Does a PTO Winch Work?

You will find the power take-off winch is mostly used in trucks and tractors. The transmission of the truck holds some space for mounting the winch. Well, it does not mean that your truck or tractors come with a PTO winch. You will have to purchase one separately. Without it, you will need to make sure whether the winch is compatible with your vehicle or not.

Usually, while purchasing a winch, you will have to provide your vehicle’s specifications to the winch manufacturer. They will check whether the winch will fit into your vehicle or not. After making the purchase, it is better to get an expert for the winch installation. You can do it by yourself if you are experienced and have much knowledge about this. Because you will be using the gearbox of your vehicle for the winch installation.

Well, using this type of winch is never a hassle. Both engaging and disengaging the Power take-off winch is possible with the help of remote control and clutch. The different winch may have different manuals for using the winch. In this case, you will have to go through the manual first.

Most of the PTO winches remain connected directly with a hydraulic pump. As a result, mechanical force distribution is allowed through the hydraulic fluid system thoroughly your vehicle. While this distribution, the hydraulic motor gets the mechanical force and then converts this force into rotational motion.

However, it is important to know that although the gearbox power the PTO winch but it does not remain connected directly. Between the gearbox and the winch, you will find there is a hydraulic system standing. You may wonder what the hydraulic system is. Basically, the hydraulic system is nothing but a group of tubes filled with hydraulic liquids. Without it, the engine is being used while operating the PTO winch.

PTO Winch Capacity:

Now the question is about the power of your PTO winch. The capacity of a PTO winch actually depends on the power of your vehicle. As I already mentioned that the winch gets motion from your vehicle’s gearbox. That’s why the power or capacity of a PTO winch depends on your vehicle’s power. However, you don’t have to worry about its capacity. It has certainly the capacity to pull your vehicle.

How to Use a PTO Winch

Well, using the PTO winches is the same as using other recovery winches. So, using the PTO winch is also very easy. For using your PTO winch, you can follow the steps mentioned below.

Part 1: Winch rigging


Well, your safety should be ensured in every step. Before starting using the winch, you must put thick hand gloves. Otherwise, the cable can cut your hands. So your first step should be putting hand gloves on your hand.


Your second turn will be plugging in the winch remote control. Generally, all winches come with a remote control attached to a long card. Look at the end of the cord for the plug and try to attach the plug to the resembling receptacle on the outer parts of the winch. After that, run the remote control cord from the winch to place the remote control in your vehicle. Disconnect the remote while you are not using it.


Your next step will be finding an anchor point. It is better to find an anchor that is located in front of your truck. The anchor should have the strength to hold your vehicle when you are winching. In this case, you are allowed to use a large tree, boulder, stumps or other vehicles. You can enjoy the best winching when the anchor is located straight to your vehicle. Always remember that you should not anchor the winch to any small or weak object.


After finding the anchor, your next turn is releasing the cable by using the winch disengage lever that is located on the outside of the winch. The disengage lever offers an option that is “disengaged” or “free spool”. Your job is to turn the lever to that option. By this, you will be allowed to pull the cable out from the winch manually.


After releasing the winch cable, it’s time for pulling the cable towards the anchor point. Be careful while pulling. Never pull so much, It may become slack. If the winch cable can’t get the anchor you will have to go for another anchor which is near to your vehicle.


Usually, all the winches come with a tree trunk protector. Once pulling the winch cable to the anchor is done, now you will have to wrap the trunk protector around the anchor point’s bottom. However, if you are missing the tree trunk protector, you may purchase one from the local market. It is much affordable.


Your next turn will be attaching the D-ring shackle. So, simply hook your winch D-ring shackle by each loop on the protector which you wrapped. Keep in your mind that you shouldn’t make it much tighten.


If you are done with attaching the D-ring shackle, then insert the hook of your winch to the D-ring cable. You are supposed to find the hook at the end part of the cable of your winch.


Now it’s time for turning again the disengage lever engages. It will let the lever back in the starting position before releasing the winch cable. It will also prevent the extra cable from coming out of the winch.


After all the above procedure is done, its time to use the remote. Use the remote for slowly pulling the winch cable taut.

Part-2: Recovering your vehicle


The front and backside of your vehicle should be clear. No one should stand near the vehicle. Always make a double-check before starting the pulling with the winch.


After that, get into the vehicle and have sat in the driver’s seat.


After having sit into the vehicle, it’s time to start winching the vehicle slowly using the remote control. It’s important to keep in your mind that you shouldn’t pull your vehicle out quickly. Always work in a slow and steady process. To start pulling, press the button of the remote control.

Meanwhile, you will find that your vehicle is moving forward as well as it is getting free from stuck. For having faster winching, release the button of the remote every few seconds and then resume it again.


After winching a while, you are supposed to be stable now. When you will reach the stable ground, your vehicle will be in a flat position. You don’t need to winch more. Switch off the remote control of the winch. To check whether you are able to drive or not, press the gas pedal.

Part 3: Winch unrigging


As your job is done with the winch, Unhook your winch cable from the winch D-shackle and using the remote slowly rewind the cable.


After that, your next task is unplugging the winch remote control and storing it in a dry and safe place.


At last, restore the D-shackle and protector from the anchor and keep them in a safe place inside your truck.

How Does a PTO Winch Work

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