How Winches Work

Electric winch on a four-wheel drive truck
Electric winch on a four-wheel drive truck
Photo courtesy kelah2001/istockphoto

If you saw "Die Hard with a Vengeance," you know that the movie's hero wasn't Bruce Willis or Samuel L. Jackson. It wasn't even the Dodge Ram they used in the final car chase. Nope, the movie's hero was a winch on the front of that Ram. Thanks to it, Willis and Jackson were able to get to the bad guys for a final showing.

Most people don't go around thinking about towing winches, or winches at all, but if you ever need one, you'll be glad one is around. A winch is a mechanism that winds wire around a drum while keeping a steady tension on it. Towing winches are a type of towing equipment that are powerful enough to pull cars and trucks. On tow trucks, a towing winch pulls cars onto either the towing platform, if it's a platform tow truck, or up into the towing sling if it's a drag-style tow truck. Serious off-roaders use winches to pull themselves out of deep mud. The winch on the front of the truck in "Die Hard" used its motor, as well as the trucks weight, to slowly and surely release wire for Willis and Jackson to climb on.

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