Will A Winch Drain ATV Battery? | Hunt or Shred

Equipping an ATV with a winch is beneficial for off-road journeys. But they also require proper weight capacity and battery power to function efficiently.

A winch will drain an ATV much faster because, during full use, the amp draw is much higher. Even without using the winch, there are still 20 amps of draw from the ATV battery, so it drains much faster. The best way to avoid this is by upgrading the battery or adding a second one.

Because it’s well-known that an ATV winch will drain the battery, the common question is about how to maximize the winch and what is considered too much battery drain. This guide answers both questions to help ATV winch owners get the most performance possible.

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Will A Winch Drain ATV Battery?

ATV riders should know that using their vehicles with a winch will significantly drain the battery. This is especially true when using the maximum line pull, weight capacity, and amp draw.

The winch will drain the battery because it draws a lot of power from the ATV. Typically, a winch will indicate the number of AMPs it will draw when used at maximum capacity.

The average ATV battery is 12-13 volts and provides anywhere between 30-200 amps. Using a winch, a much larger amp is drawn from the battery.

With too much consistent use, the ATV battery can drain completely, causing the vehicle to stall unexpectedly. If the winch drains too much battery, a flashing warning light will indicate something is wrong.

How Does An ATV Winch Work?

ATV winches are designed to pull heavy objects by mounting them on the front of the vehicle.

They work by using a cable and a spool to create tension. The cable is attached to the object that needs to be moved, and then the spool is wound to pull the cable tight and create tension.

This tension will help to keep the object in place as it moves up the incline. The tension on the rope can also be adjusted manually as required.

But they have a pulling capacity, and overloading the winch is a risk. They require battery power to work, too. Otherwise, there is no way for the winch to use any leverage for towing or pulling.

How Much Battery Does Winch Drain From An ATV?

The winch is a crucial part of an ATV. It is used to pull heavy objects, and it can be used to tow a vehicle. A winch is a mechanical device that uses rope or cable to pull something towards it.

A winch requires power to work, which comes from its battery pack. The battery on an ATV is usually 12-volt, but an upgrade to use two for 24 volts is also possible.

But when the winch is in use, the battery will drain faster. Learning about the winch pulling capacity and amp draw is necessary to estimate how much the ATV can handle properly.

This chart explains what the four most popular winch sizes will draw for amps during use.

Winch Weight Pulling Capacity Non-Use Amp Draw Full Use Amp Draw
1,500 LBs 20 Amps 100 Amps
2,500 LBs 20 Amps 150 Amps
3,500 LBs 20 Amps 200 Amps
4,500 LBs 20 Amps 250 Amps

Why Does A Winch Drain My ATV Battery?

There are a few possibilities if the winch is draining the ATV battery. Either the winch is too powerful for the ATV, the battery is bad, or the winch power cables are corroded.

The Winch Is Too Powerful For The ATV

If you use an oversized winch with too heavy of a pulling capacity for your ATV, this results in a higher full-use amp draw. This can lead to the battery draining way too fast.

To avoid this, take some time to learn about the ATV pulling capacity to match the perfect-sized winch with the vehicle. This will help avoid additional battery draining or overuse that could cause permanent battery damage.

Battery Is Bad Or Undercharged

If the ATV battery is bad or undercharged, the ATV winch will drain the battery much faster too. This is one of the most common reasons why batteries drain faster from an ATV winch.

The winch cable is a heavy load, and it will pull on the battery to charge it. The winch can quickly drain an undercharged or damaged battery.

The best thing to do is get the battery in the ATV tested before first using a winch with it. This will help identify any issues with the current battery so an upgrade can be made if needed.

Corroded Winch Power Cables

There are a few things that can cause battery drain from an ATV winch. The most common cause is when the battery gets old and has to work harder to produce the same amount of power.

Overuse or use in difficult conditions can lead to corrosion, effectively draining the battery even faster. The cables will need to be replaced before expecting the battery drain on the ATV to improve. You can find good cable replacement options here.

How To Identify Too Much Battery Drain From An ATV Winch

There are some situations where your winch may be draining more battery than it should. This means that your battery will die much faster than it should.

The battery life of an ATV winch is an important consideration when you are planning to buy a new winch. It is important to know how to identify too much battery drain from an ATV winch so that you can take the necessary measures and avoid any problems.

Try to test the ATV winch amp draw and the current ATV battery charger if you suspect too much battery drain is happening.

Test The Winch Amp Draw

The winch amp draw is a measurement of the current draw on an ATV battery. This test is done to determine the winch's power and if there is any battery drain from the ATV.

This is important because if the winch amp draw exceeds the battery's capacity, it will cause the battery to drain and die.

The test can be performed by attaching a winch to a tree and starting to pull it up. If the ATV's battery can handle this, then it will not show any signs of draining.

Test The Battery Charge

If there is any need for external charging for the ATV battery after using the winch, there is clearly too much battery drain. To test this, see where the battery is charged before using the winch.

Assuming the battery is fully charged, you can recheck the battery charge after using the winch. Time how long it was used, and this will tell you what the current battery drain is for the winch.

How Long Can An ATV Battery Last When Using A Winch?

An ATV battery can last for a long time when it is used with a winch. When the battery is in use, it will drain faster than usual. But if the battery is not being used and just sitting idle, then it can last much longer.

An ATV battery will only last a few minutes when using a powerful winch. These batteries are not designed to handle a winch for too long because the amp draw is simply too high.

If a winch is in use on an ATV, within five minutes, the battery will likely die and cause the ATV to stall. This will only work for longer with a second backup battery to reach the desired amp draw.

The average ATV battery will last for 2-5 years, depending on its use. Any battery that is consistently used to support a winch will wear down much faster.

Can An ATV Battery Power A Winch?

When an ATV is equipped with a winch, both the battery and the alternator work to create leverage and power to hoist large loads and pull heavy equipment. But not all batteries are powerful enough to support a winch.

The first thing to do is test the battery. After you know the volts, a winch amp draw test should be conducted before using a winch and every time you use it thereafter.

The winch amp draw test determines how much power the winch needs to function. If the ATV battery cannot handle the power requirements of the winch, it will drain too much power from the battery and leave you stranded in your time of need.

Consider getting a second backup battery to use a winch with your ATV too.

Key Takeaways

  • The average ATV battery is 12 volts, and using a winch with an ATV will cause the battery to drain much faster.
  • The average no-use ATV battery drain with a winch is 20 amps; depending on the winch capacity, the full-use drain ranges between 100 and 250 amps.
  • If the battery is draining fast with a winch, it could be too big of a winch, the battery could be bad, or the power cables could be corroding.
  • Most ATV batteries are not designed to power a winch, but upgrading the battery or adding a second backup to handle the extra load is possible.




41 years old. I'm a freelance writer that specializes in informational blog posts. All my articles are detail oriented and well researched. I'm a huge Arizona Cardinals fan!

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