Best Car Trailer Winches – 2020 Ultimate Review

Finding the best winches for car trailers can be a challenge. But you might find the search process easier once we lay down the key attributes to watch out for. Moving heavy equipment that doesn’t fit well in trunks or backseats always warrants a different method of transportation.

If you have a car with a trailer that you can attach to it, there’s a pretty good chance you can benefit from the use of a good winch. Most winches are great for towing, lifting, and even pulling things out of sticky situations (i.e.--mud holes and ditches). So if you are looking for a great winch, it’s important to find one that will work hard and will always be ready to go if and when needed.

While there are a handful of winches for car trailers available on the market, we were able to track down five of them. These are considered the best in the business based on a few characteristics and features that stood out. Before we get to the list, we will talk about whether or not every winch can be attached to a car trailer and what types of features and characteristics make a winch for car trailers stand out among the rest. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Car Trailer Winches

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Low profile design
  • Smooth, durable gear train
  • Best overall winch for car trailers
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  • Handheld remote included
  • Runner-up for best overall winch for car trailers
  • Equipped with a weather-sealed solenoid and circuit breaker
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  • Includes a 6.6 HP motor
  • Wireless remote included
  • Waterproof solenoid included
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  • Offers 12,000 pounds of weight capacity
  • Comes with a 12-foot cable switch and remote
  • Includes a rope made from high-quality materials
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Can Any Winch Be Attached to a Car Trailer?

The short answer: not likely. Yes, many winches exist but not every single one will be easily attached to a car trailer. One such reason is the size. Some winches might be too large or even too heavy for car trailers. On top of that, there might be some car trailers that might not be able to handle the tasks you want due to some factors like the weight limit. While many winches function the same way, they are not all suitable for such uses due to a few features and characteristics. 

What Makes a Winch Great For a Car Trailer?

Knowing how to distinguish between a great winch for a car trailer and one that isn’t so great is important. And that’s why we have this brief guide that will help you make the search process a little more bearable. Want to know what to look for when finding a car trailer winch that won’t give you any problems from the start? Here’s what you need to look for:

Price

Yes, the price might just be what you’re looking at if you are on a budget. But it’s something you shouldn’t worry about. Finding a winch that is excellent in quality and performance is what you’ll need. If you’re on a budget, finding the best that you can afford in these attributes is key. This way, you’re not throwing away money on something cheap and flimsy. And you certainly don’t want to invest in disappointment either.

What It Can Handle

Keep in mind ,there are different winches out there that have different weight limits. Some will handle heavier loads than others. So it’s important to know what your true intent and purposes are for a winch for your car trailer. Are you using it to haul a small moving container? Are you using it to haul another vehicle? These are some things to consider while you determine a specific weight limit for your winch. 

Installation

No one wants to spend a long time trying to figure out how to install a car trailer winch. And you shouldn't have to. What makes such a winch great is the ease of installation. If you are looking for a winch that will be excellent in quality and reliable in its use, you should find one that will be easy to install in as little as a half-hour or less. It is even better if you are installing something that has fewer moving parts. 

Quick Take  - Best Car Trailer Winches

Before you get any further, here are our recommendations for the best car trailer winches:

  1. WARN 96800 VR8 Electric Winch
  2. Superwinch 1585202 LP8500 Winch
  3. Smittybilt 97510 X 2O Waterproof Winch

Review of the Best Winches For Car Trailers

The following is a list of the five best winches for car trailers. As you go through each one, you should note some of the features and characteristics so you are able to find one that will match the description of your ideal winch. Find one that will be the best for you in terms of quality and performance and you’ll be able to use it for the long term or whenever you need it the most. Let’s take a look at the best overall choice for the best winch for car trailers:

WARN 96800 VR8 12V Electric Winch with Steel Cable Rope: 5/16' Diameter x 94' Length, 4 Ton (8,000 lb) Capacity

PROS

  • Excellent reliability
  • Hefty 8,000-lb capacity
  • Works with most vehicles
  • The rope is solid and durable
  • Easy to install on most car trailers

CONS

  • Some rusting may occur over time
  • A few were none too pleased about the electrical warranty
  • Some are not too happy with the quality of the mounting bolts

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers were pretty happy with the winch. They managed to attach this to their car trailer of choice and were able to tow and lift most of their loads (which included moving trailers and smaller vehicles). The rope was pretty solid in construction and handled a good amount of weight. Overall, the winch held up quite well, even in bad weather conditions. One user even said he wasn’t worried about it when he was using it and driving through a rainstorm. He said as long as it doesn’t damage or rust quickly, it would last him quite a while.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The WARN name has been one of the most trusted when it comes to winches. And they have been around for more than 70 years. Each of their winches is built with the intent of making them as solid and reliable as possible. So you’re getting something with the potential to last you years or even decades. Make no mistake about it, this winch (or any WARN winch for that matter) is ready to exceed expectations and set the bar higher for all winches on the market. If you want solid construction and top-notch reliability no matter what your load is, a WARN winch like this won’t ever disappoint.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be a great winch for those looking to be on the move. Whether you are going across town or across the country, you want a winch that will handle it all. If you are carrying small vehicles like boats, jet skis, or ATVs or moving around a small trailer full of your stuff during a big move, then this might be a winch that you can depend on. This puppy is rock solid and ready to use the second you install it on your trailer.

Bottom Line

The WARN 96800 VR8 Electric Winch might be the best possible option for you if you are looking for something that is solid in construction and super-easy to use for all your towing and lifting needs. This winch is hands-down one of the most hard-working of them all. After all, it’s what a WARN winch does best. If reliability and toughness are what you are looking for, then choosing this winch would be a no brainer.

Superwinch 1585202 LP8500 Winch Gen II 12 VDC 8500lbs/3856kg, steel hawse, handheld remote

PROS

  • Superior overall quality
  • Fits most car trailers perfectly
  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Excellent for towing small moving trailers
  • Handheld remote is extremely convenient for lifting and towing tasks

CONS

  • Holding brake may not be the best at times
  • Some dismissed the overall quality as cheaper than other brands
  • Rope may be a bit too long and can leave a little bit of extra slack

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new users were quite happy with the overall quality of the winch (despite the negative reviews saying otherwise). They said installation was a breeze on most trailers and had no trouble tacking it onto their vehicles or small moving trailers. One user said the winch was nice and powerful in operation. It also allowed him control over how much cable he wanted to use. So far, he said that the pulling is great and the cable appeared to be in superb quality.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This winch is solid both inside and out. So if you are looking for something with an excellent amount of quality, then you’re definitely going to love having this winch around. If anything, you’re going to absolutely love the remote feature that will make using the winch a lot easier from a good distance. On top of that, you can pull through all kinds of loads without worrying about breaking the rope (or ruining the winch itself if and when you are traveling in adverse weather conditions). If you want performance and quality at a price that might give our best for the money choice a challenge, then you may want to give this winch, in particular, a closer look.

Who Will Use This Most

If you want a winch that is built like a brick house and does the jobs you want without any issues of malfunctioning, this winch could serve your purpose. It’s the kind of winch that will make moving a trailer full of junk a lot easier (and more enjoyable since you are getting rid of unneeded stuff). And of course, you can use it for the purpose of moving other stuff like small campers and vehicles. It doesn’t have a popular brand name (and who cares if it does?). But it does have proven reliability and quality to boot.

Bottom Line

The Superwinch might be the runner-up for best overall. But it’s got a few good reasons why it’s on the list. The last thing you want is a winch that is disappointing in every aspect. This is built to last, easy to install, and can handle all your towing and lifting needs almost daily. Not to mention, it’s pretty affordable as well. If you want the best in performance, quality, and are willing to spend a bit extra in your budget range, this might be the winch to get.

Smittybilt X2O - Waterproof Steel Cable Winch - 10,000 lb. Load Capacity

PROS

  • Easy lifting and towing
  • Very strong and well built
  • Affordable for many budgets
  • Simple to install on most trailers
  • Wireless remote works even from a pretty good distance

CONS

  • Rope may be a little too long
  • Wireless remote may not be as waterproof as the winch itself
  • The synthetic rope has snapped after short term use on some owners

What Recent Buyers Report

This winch was perfect for most users who were looking to not only tow small vehicles and trailers but it was also perfect for marine-related tasks. One user said the winch was perfect for towing a small craft boat he has owned for nearly a decade. And since he was driving an SUV, he needed a trailer. That trailer was perfect for the winch (and the installation process was super easy).

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This winch is probably one of the best of the bunch if you are planning on dealing with all kinds of marine applications (like towing or lifting boats). It’s waterproof enough to even handle saltwater. So if you are moving something from the sea to another location, this winch will certainly be of service. One of the best features of this is the wireless remote. You can operate the winch from a good distance while getting out of harm’s way (depending on where you are). So you don’t have to use a winch with your hands while dodging traffic or whatever else. 

Who Will Use This Most

This would be perfect for those who are not just moving boats, but also small vehicles, as well. It’s a pretty good winch that can handle long stretches of road or even the trip across town. No matter how far you have to go, this winch will certainly hold the heavy load you want to move without breaking apart. And nature doesn’t stand a chance against this winch, so you can drive through a nasty rainstorm and not worry about this failing you whenever it needs to be used again.

Bottom Line

The Smittybilt is a tough, reliable, and easy to install winch that is compatible with most trailers and will definitely stand the test of time and environmental elements. Through it all, it will fulfill all your heavy lifting needs without any issue. It’s a top-quality winch made for the seas and the roadways. 

Tangkula Electric Winch Remote for Trailer Truck SUV ATV UTV Boat with Mounting System & Wireless Remote Control Rope Winch (12000Lbs)

PROS

  • Affordable for most
  • The remote operation has a good amount of range
  • Allows for long-distance towing when on roadways
  • Super-sturdy cable. Holds up most heavy loads pretty good
  • Easy to install and attach to other vehicles, trailers, etc.

CONS

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, a lot of users were happy with the winch. The installation process was quick and easy with most trailers. They were also impressed with how well with the rope handled the heavy weights. Lifting and towing were quite easy for them (which included trailers and small vehicles, like Jeeps). One user said he uses this to tow his Jeep for some outdoor adventure fun. He said the winch did a good job keeping itself attached to his Jeep without any slipping or breaking.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This winch is pretty solid in construction. And it’s at the right size to will fit most car trailers. From there, it would allow users to make sure that whatever they were towing or lifting could be easily attached to the winch. The cordless remote can be used to allow you to operate the winch from a safe distance if you are using it for a towing or rescue application. From a safe distance and quite far away (about 100 feet), you can use the remote to control the winch and give it just enough rope to attach the load to.

Who Will Use This Most

This electric winch would be ideal for personal use and can also be used for commercial use by auto mechanics who won’t mind doing some towing on the side. It’s sturdy, fits in most trailers, and will make sure that all your vehicles, boats, and everything else gets from point A to point B safely. And yes, it can get people out of dangerous situations where evacuating their vehicles might seem impossible.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a really good winch that will be relied upon for so many applications, then the Tangkula Electric Winch will definitely be one of the best choices on the market for you. If you have a trailer that you have attached to your truck and want to use for all your towing, rescuing, and transporting needs this is the winch that will definitely make sure you are able to attach all your heavy loads with ease.

Offroad Boar Synthetic Rope Waterproof Winch - 13000 lb. Load Capacity (Synthetic Rope)

PROS

  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Easy to install on most trailers
  • Great for towing and lifting applications
  • Superior quality, even at a reasonable price
  • Wireless remote worked from some pretty good ranges

CONS

  • Some have questioned the quality of the rope
  • Gears have stripped over time on some users
  • May be a challenge to attach to some vehicles or trailers

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers were looking for a really affordable, but high-quality winch that would be useful for all their lifting and towing needs. They certainly were not disappointed when they came across this. They concluded that the rope quality was actually pretty solid and the operation with the wireless remote didn’t give them any grief. One user said he had to use the remote while having to stand back at a safe distance and towing a small vehicle that had broken down.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

If you want a winch that will last you quite a while and stand up to bad weather conditions, then you’re going to love using this winch in particular. Especially when it has an IP67 waterproof rating (which is a pretty good thing if you are purchasing something you intend to use for towing or lifting). Other than that, it’s got a weight capacity of 13,000 pounds. So in short, it can handle some pretty heavy-duty tasks. If you are looking for a winch that is affordable in terms of quality and performance, there is no question why this winch, in particular, should be on your shortlist. Did we mention that this can handle heavier loads? What kind of winch for a car trailer can do that? Other than this winch, there are a select few that do.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be great for those looking for a solidly built winch for the long and short hauls. Even if you are dealing with some pretty heavy loads, you can simply install this on your car trailer and pull the load from one place to the next. You’ll be surprised what this winch can accomplish if and when you do purchase it for your own use.

Bottom Line

The Offroad Boar Synthetic Waterproof Rope Winch might be the most affordable choice on the market. Not to mention, it’s got the best quality and performance of any budget winch out there. If you want a winch that will go above and beyond the call of duty without sucking the life out of your bank account, this is the winch you’re probably going to want to look at further.

Can You Really Find a Quality Winch That’s Affordable?

The short answer: yes. You can find an affordable winch. But affordable should not be confused with cheap. Affordable is being able to spend money on the best quality and performance that fits your budget. If money isn’t an issue, keep that in mind when looking for a winch for a car trailer. Cheap may not always last in the long term, but quality and affordability will. 

What Do I Need to Know Before Buying a Winch?

There are some things you must know before purchasing a winch. Making an informed decision is a lot better than buying blind and ending up with a disappointing winch that will fall apart sooner rather than later. Here are some things to consider when buying a winch:

Know the Weight Limit

The weight limit is definitely worth knowing since not every winch will be the same. Some will handle heavier weights while others will have lighter limits. Either way, it’s important to determine your intent or purpose so you are able to find the best car trailer winch for you. 

Not Every Winch Will Fit

This is where measuring your vehicle and the trailer you are utilizing will come in handy. That’s because some winches will be compatible with some vehicles and some will not. Those winches may either be too big or too heavy to handle. It’s important that you get the measurements and find out which winch is compatible with your own vehicle.

A Remote Controlled Winch Might Be Better For You

A lot of winches come with remote controls that you can use to easily operate a winch. At the same time, it would be better for safety purposes so you are not risking yourself with serious injury or death if you are in some situations (i.e.--a rescue situation). Plus, it’s better to be at a safe distance in case something disastrous happens like when a winch cable suddenly snaps off. 

Conclusion

If you are looking for a winch for a car trailer, one of these five might be of service. It’s important that you find one that can fit your vehicle or trailer, can handle the heavy loads, and be able to work on a consistent or occasional basis. These winches are built to last and will certainly be reliable in many applications. Find one that will be easy for you overall and you have something that will last you for many years. 

People Also Ask

Below is a list of frequently asked questions you can use as a guide. Be sure to note the answers so you have a good idea of how these winches work. Now, let’s take a look at the questions below: 

How Much Can a Winch Pull?

The short answer: it depends. It will depend on the weight limit of the winch itself. So it will depend on the size of the winch and the load you intend to tow or lift. Be sure to know the weight limit of a winch before you use it. 

How Do I Choose a Winch Size?

This will be determined by the measurements of your vehicle (and sometimes the model itself). Granted, some winches will be fitting for trucks and SUVs while smaller-sized winches might work with regular cars and trailers. Be sure to make the appropriate measurements before making a determination based on size.

Is Synthetic Winch Rope Better?

Synthetic winch rope will often be used for more consistent towing or pulling. However, synthetic is also proven to be much better and stronger when it comes to using a winch used for rescue operations. This will make your efforts safer and less dangerous in the event of the cable snapping off.