Off-Roading 101:

The need for a recovery winch

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offroading2016079In my time as a four-wheel driving instructor, I could no longer count how many times I have received distress calls from friends who received calls for help, because a vehicle is stranded somewhere just outside of the metropolis. In most cases, it’s from a four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle owner who, just like in scuba diving, got carried away by their emotions and went just a little further than what their vehicle or their off-pavement skills are capable of. This is where the need for a recovery winch is needed, especially for those who will insist on going at it with a lone vehicle.

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The worst I have seen (and I have seen a lot of these) are those who venture out with a fully-kitted out sport utility vehicle or pick-up truck with raised suspensions and oversized tires, only to find out that they ventured off-road with a two-wheel drive (2WD) drive train. The owner of the stranded vehicle would usually say, “I thought a 2WD can do it” or “It can still do it.”

As a rule of thumb, the moment a vehicle owner decides to venture off road, the chances of being stranded from the nature of the driving surface is multiplied several folds already. The recovery winch came into being in the off-road driving scene for this very purpose. It is always better to have one and not need it, than need it and not have it.

It is the responsibility of those who wish to venture off paved roads or those who have to for work and commercial purposes to be able to recover their vehicle in a safe way. The moment one decides to purchase a utility vehicle with just the possibility of driving on unpaved surfaces, this already means there is a need for a system to recover a vehicle in stuck or stranded situations, no matter how easy it looks.

A properly installed recovery winch is not a 100-percent guarantee that you will be able to get your vehicle out from being stranded. It also needs to be said that using a powered recovery winch requires a safety mindset. After all, you are trying pull out a two-ton vehicle with resistance from the ground with a device that has the capacity of at least two times the weight of your vehicle. It’s a lot of potential energy that when unleashed inappropriately, has the potential to be lethal at the most and cause great injuries at the least.

So to those who really need or want to venture off the paved road, do get one. If you’re a recreational off-the-road driver, it will save you a lot of time and grief. If you’re the commercial, professional, military user and your bean counting boss is cost-conscious and sees a lack of need for one, ask them to join you on one of your off-the-road trips and let them wonder how to get out of a stuck situation. Time is money and they just might see the need for one.

Filipinos are basically a very helpful people, but that does not mean you can be an inconvenience to those who want to help, because you decided to be macho and go at it on your own. And if you’re traveling with just your wife and an infant daughter, and you happen to get stuck in what started as a shallow creek that turned into a raging river, use common sense and just stay out of it.

There are many choices of recovery winches and any one of them will suit your particular need. We will write about them in the succeeding articles soon.

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