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Which Winch for your Tow Truck?

If you’ve been in the towing business for more than a week, chances are you’ve had to use your truck winch.  Perhaps one of the best inventions – second to perhaps the telephone or wheel – for a professional tower, the winch represents your “get out of jail free card”.  In other words, it will pull you or your customer’s butt out of where you or your customer’s butt shouldn’t be.

If you’re in the market for a new winch, there’s no denying that purchasing a new truck winch can represent a significant investment – so it certainly makes sense to do your research beforehand.  In this guide, we are going to highlight 3 of our favorite winches and also give you a few tips for selecting the right one for your tow truck.  With this in mind, let’s get straight to it.

Smittybilt XRC-9.5K Waterproof Winch Gen2

Smittybilt XRC-95K Waterproof Winch Gen2We think the Smittybilt truck winches are some of of the best value winches on the market, and the XRC 9.5K at around $300 retail is no exception. With a powerful 6.6 hp amphibious motor, along with a three-stage planetary gear system, it definitely has a great deal of power and won’t let you down when you needed the most.

Thanks to the first-rate motor, it has a healthy 9500 lb load capacity, which is certainly powerful enough for most tow company’s requirements.  It’s also worth noting that the winch comes with a lifetime mechanical warranty, as well as a five-year electrical warranty – which gives you real peace of mind.  Another convenient feature is the corded remote, and it’s also nice to know that the unit is fully waterproof, so it can be used in virtually any situation.

WARN PowerPlant Dual Force HD Winch/Compressor

WARN PowerPlantWe love Warn winches, and while you may be paying a bit more for the name, their reputation for rugged quality is hard to beat.  For tower, it’s nice to have peace of mind that your winch will be working when you need it.  WARN is always innovating and building on their already impressive product line and that’s why we love the WARN PowerPlant.  In addition to a 12,000 Lb. capacity capable of pulling any car out of a ditch, the PowerPlant comes with all mounting hardware and a heavy duty 5/16” cable with remote control.

Perhaps the best part of the WARN PowerPlant is the integrated air compressor that any good tow truck needs as part of their arsenal.  It’s a low draw, inner cooled compressor that saves significant space on your tow truck to supply an impressive 100 PSI pressure of compressed air at maximum load.

Downside here is the cost.  While you do save some space with the compressor, the cost will run upwards of $1,700, making it significantly more costly that the Smittybuilt or Yescom.

Yescom 12000 lb 12V 6.6 Recovery Winch

Yescom 12000 lb 12V Recovery WinchFor those looking for bit more capacity at a *really* low price, here’s another fantastic value option, this time from a e-commerce company called YescomUSA.   Yescom makes all sort of Chinese-made winches, ranging from the smallest model with a load capacity of 2000 lbs, all the way up to their largest model with a load capacity of 12000 lbs! For towing applications, we recommend going large. Their 12000lb winch comes with a three-stage planetary gear system which is highly efficient and gives you incredible power. It also uses an excellent free spooling clutch which will let the wire rope be pulled even without using electric power.

What’s more, it benefits from automatic braking in the drum, which locks the wire rope and stops it pulling as soon as you release the switch button.  It also seem to have an excellent protective casing throughout, which means it’s a very hard wearing winch that should last you for a long time to come.

We’ve read some reviews on quality issues, and while we’ve not had any on the 2 Yescom winches we’ve used for our vehicles, the wiring disconnects do seem ominously exposed at the terminals, making us wonder just how well it would perform in consistently wet conditions, or worse yet – in the midst of salty roads in the winter.


There are definitely a wide range of truck winches on the market right now from great companies WARN to Smittybilt to Mile Marker and I don’t want to give the impression that the three above are all there is.  These just happen to be brands we’ve had good experience with in the past.  Bottom line:  get out there and try some out -and do your research!  There’s tons of information out there on the internet and forums!  Happy towing!

Contact us at (919) 805-3344