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What Is a Winch Receiver?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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A winch receiver is a type of winch mount that fits into a receiver hitch mount on a vehicle. Designed to allow the user to remove the winch after use, the winch receiver is held into the receiver hitch bracket by a single, solid steel pin. This pin can be removed and the winch pulled free of the hitch when not in use, thereby allowing the winch to be safely stored inside of the vehicle. The benefit of using a winch receiver is that a single winch can be used on either end of a vehicle, essentially providing the user with the potential winching abilities of dual winches.

While a winch is an essential component on most off-road-type vehicles, many owners can operate for extensive periods without having to use the winch. This means that the expensive piece of equipment is just left exposed to the elements, mud and dirt as it is mounted to the chassis of the vehicle. By using a winch receiver, the winch can be stored securely inside of the vehicle until needed. When needed, the winch receiver is simply placed into the receiver hitch of the vehicle and used as directed. The vehicle can install a receiver hitch on both the front and rear of the vehicle in order to allow the winch to service both ends of the vehicle.

Vehicle owners who do not choose to use a winch receiver are commonly required to install two winches on their vehicle to cover both ends of the vehicle should it become stuck. This adds up to double the cost, maintenance and chance of theft. This also means that the winch is only capable of being used on one vehicle. By mounting a winch on a winch receiver, the same winch can be used on any vehicle that is equipped with a compatible receiver hitch, provided, in some cases, a wiring plug is installed onto the vehicle to provide power to the winch.

Many owners choose to use a gasoline-powered winch on the winch receiver. This allows the winch to be used as-is on any receiver hitch-equipped vehicle. Another benefit of using the winch receiver on a vehicle is that the receiver provides a sturdy winching point on the vehicle. This is often important when attempting to attach a winch hook to a vehicle that is buried in snow, mud or deep water that can prevent a strong hooking point from being seen. By hooking the winch to the receiver, the owner is virtually assured that a solid and secure hooking point has been located and used.

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