How Does a PTO Winch Work

How Does a PTO Winch Work?

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Winches have come a long way since their formal introduction thousands of years back. Following their reputation in thousands of sectors, mankind has managed to build different varieties of the winch to make it more sophisticated. Some of the most common varieties you’ll find include the electric winch, hydraulic winch, portable winch, and the less common PTO winch. So, how does a PTO winch work?

Now, winches have a notable reputation in thousands of sectors such as mining, manufacturing, sailing, and vehicle recovery. Although the electric and the hydraulic winches are the most recognizable, the PTO is a disregarded type of winch that has several advantages over its successors.

So, in this post, we’re going to talk about the PTO winch. Here, we’ll discuss the working mechanism of this winch, its capacity, and how exactly you’re supposed to use it.


What are PTO Winches?


If you’re an enthusiast off-roader, then a winch doesn’t need any further introduction. When cruising through the rough terrains, you’ve likely gotten stuck at some point. The tool you used to haul or lift your Jeep, SUV, or truck is what we’re referring to as a winch.

But, winches are not the same. The PTO, or rather the Power Take-Off winch, is very different from both the electric and the hydraulic winch. In terms of power, both the electric and the hydraulic winches source their power from the battery and the hydraulic pressure while the PTO winch gets its power from the vehicle’s gearbox transmission.

Due to its source of power, the PTO winch is regarded as a faster, reliable, and more efficient type of winch as compared to its successors.


Benefits of Using a PTO Winch


Before we discuss the working mechanism of a PTO winch, we’d like to talk about the benefits of using this type of winch. As we mentioned earlier, a PTO winch is very different from most modern winches due to its source of power.

Due to its unique source of power, this winch has two major benefits that are worth mentioning. One of them is the massive power it pockets. Since the PTO winch relies on the car’s gearbox transmission to work, a powerful engine means that this winch will produce incredible power that’s enough to accomplish extreme recovery tasks.

The second benefit of relying on a PTO winch is that it doesn’t rely on your vehicle’s battery but rather the transmission. What this means is that you’ll preserve battery power when recovering a vehicle. Although the engine will remain ‘ON’ throughout the recovery process, this is much better than consuming your battery power especially if you’re in the middle of nowhere.


How Does a PTO Winch Work?


PTO winches are very different from electric and hydraulic winches. Due to their enormous power, these winches are mostly mounted on heavy-duty vehicles such as utility trucks and tractors. Now, just like most winches, PTO winches are not part of your vehicle’s OEM parts. This means that these winches don’t come when pre-assembled on your truck or tractor.

For that reason, you need to adhere to certain procedures when buying this type of winch. First, you need to inspect your vehicle to verify it has a PTO winch mounting option. Secondly, you need to submit your truck or tractor’s data to your preferred PTO winch vendor to ensure that you land a perfect match.

When you’re done, the last part is to connect the PTO winch to your vehicle. So, to do this, your mechanic will begin by connecting the winch to your vehicle’s gearbox transmission using the available PTO adapter.

Once the PTO winch is connected to the gearbox, the last step is to connect it to your vehicle’s hydraulic pump system. The reason for this is to distribute mechanical force in the form of hydraulic fluid from the vehicle to the winch.

With the setup process now complete, how does a PTO winch work? As usual, you’ll begin by starting the engine to engage the PTO winch. Remember, a PTO winch uses the engine’s RPM to operate. With the engine turned on, hydraulic fluid will flow automatically throughout the system including the hydraulic motor.

From this point, the hydraulic motor is responsible for converting the mechanical force into rotational force. This rotational force is responsible for driving the PTO winch to make vehicle recoveries possible.

Lastly, the PTO winch needs to be connected to the transfer case. This is important because it allows you to use the gears to operate the winch. Therefore, with such a connection, you can easily change the speed, the torque, and the direction of the winch by just shifting from one gear to another.


How Powerful is a PTO Winch


So, with that said, how powerful is a PTO winch? Now, the power rating of a PTO winch will hugely depend on your vehicle’s engine. Since this type of winch is operated by the engine’s RPM, how much it can perform will depend on the power rating of the engine it’s paired with. So, if you pair this winch with a strong engine, then its performance will be high and vice versa.




Although the electric winch has enjoyed massive upgrades in recent times, the PTO winch remains the king of the winches when it comes to power output. The reason why this type of winch is still the best is due to its power source, which happens to be the engine.

But, regardless of its massive power, most people don’t know much about this winch. For that reason, this guide has explained exactly how this winch works to make things much easier for you. So, in case you have a PTO winch and you’re wondering how exactly does it work, then this guide has offered you everything you need to know.

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