How Does a PTO Winch Work

How Does a PTO Winch Work?

If you’re an enthusiast off-roader, then you’re aware of what a winch is. Introduced thousands of years ago, winches have made a noticeable contribution in various departments such as engineering, construction, marine, and utilitarian industries. Other than their reputation in various sectors, winches come in different varieties such as electric, hydraulic, and PTO. So, how does a PTO winch work?

Now, the main reason why we’re focusing on the PTO winch is its growing popularity in the vehicle recovery sector. Although this winch is quite disregarded among most off-roaders, its massive power coupled with a few interesting features has made it quite unique hence worth discussing.

So, in this short post, we’re going to discuss the PTO winch. In particular, we’ll look at its working mechanism, major benefits that make it stand out, and lastly, we’ll discuss how to connect the winch to your truck’s gearbox transmission. With that said, let’s begin.


What’s a PTO Winch?


Now, PTO stands for Power Take-Off winch. Unlike your typical vehicle recovery winches, the PTO winch has myriad features that make it very different. One feature that makes it stand out over its electric and hydraulic counterparts is the source of power.

In most cases, the hydraulic and electric winches source their power from hydraulic pressure and the battery. When it comes to the PTO winch, this one sources its power from the car’s gearbox transmission making it a faster, efficient, and more reliable type of winch.

Now, if you’re driving class 4 and larger vehicles, then your truck or SUV will have a provision for mounting the PTO winch. When mounting this winch, you need to think of the number of fasteners you’ll use to attach the winch to the gearbox transmission. These fasteners are called apertures and they mostly come in 6-bolt, 8-bolt, and 10-bolt types.

According to the Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE), the 6-bolt and 8-bolt types are standard sizes for manual transmissions while the 10-bolt types are specifically designed for automatic transmissions.


Why Choose a PTO Winch?


Just as we mentioned earlier, a PTO is a very unique type of winch that enjoys several benefits over its electrical and hydraulic counterparts. So, before we discuss its working mechanism, let’s first detail some of the benefits you’ll enjoy while using this type of winch.

One of the major benefits of a PTO winch is the amount of power it generates. Unlike electric winches that rely on battery power, PTO winches rely on two factors. One of those is the engine’s power, speed, and transmission gearing while the second is the internal gear ratio of the PTO winch.

So, if your truck has a strong engine, then this power will be transferred directly to your PTO winch to allow it to accomplish extreme recovery jobs. Also, if the internal gear ratio of your PTO winch is high, then it means the output shaft speed of your winch will increase significantly.

Other than the power factor, the second benefit of using a PTO winch is that it doesn’t deplete your battery’s power. That’s because PTO winches rely on the gearbox transmission rather than the battery. So, if you’re recovering your vehicle in the middle of nowhere, you won’t have to worry much about battery power provided the engine is running. However, you need to ensure that you have enough gas to keep the engine alive.


So, How Does a PTO Winch Work?


Now, a PTO winch is quite demanding as compared to an electric or hydraulic winch. This type of winch requires a lot of complex connections to ensure that it works efficiently. Since it’s connected to your truck’s gearbox transmission, you need to think of compatibility when buying this type of winch.

PTO winches are mostly mounted on class 4 and larger vehicles. That’s because such vehicles have provisions for mounting such winches. Since PTO winches are not part of your vehicle’s OEM parts, there are certain parameters you must consider before mounting one. First, you need to submit specific data regarding your car’s specifications to find the right PTO winch that will match your truck’s setup.

Secondly, you need to think of the power take-off you’ll use to engage the winch. These include cable, air pressure, and hydraulic pressure. Lastly, you need to think of the output shaft speed of your PTO winch, which depends on engine speed, transmission gearing, and the internal gear ratio of the winch.

So, with those parameters in mind, let’s discuss the working mechanism of a PTO winch. In this section, we’ll focus on two areas. The first one is to connect the PTO winch to your truck and the second one is the working mechanism of the winch.

To begin, your mechanic will connect the winch to your truck’s aperture using a PTO adapter. The aperture is directly connected to the gearbox transmission. Next, specific tubes will be connected directly to your truck’s hydraulic pump to distribute mechanical force in the form of hydraulic fluid.

This hydraulic fluid is then used to turn the motor, which in return converts mechanical force into rotational force. This rotational force is what is needed to recover a stuck vehicle. Lastly, your PTO winch will need to be connected to the transfer case to make it easier to operate using the gears. This way, you’ll manage to change the speed, the torque, and the direction of the winch by shifting the gears.




The PTO winch is just one among the many available winches. What makes it king is the amount of power output it pockets over its rivals. This winch sources its power from the engine, which makes it extremely powerful when it comes to recovering vehicles.

Another major reason to get a PTO winch is the fact that its power output is not limited. While electric winches rely on battery power, PTO winches rely on engine power to function. So, if your engine is extremely powerful, your winch will have a higher power take-off output. That said, this post has discussed everything you need to know regarding PTO winches.

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