How to Wire a Winch without a Solenoid?

Published: 05/23/22 •  6 min read

Most winches in the market contain a solenoid. A solenoid is an electromagnetic switch that ensures the winch operates properly by regulating the electric current from the car’s battery. But in some cases, such as when troubleshooting a winch motor or if there is a heating issue, you may need to bypass the solenoid and winch without it.

The winch can be wired without a solenoid in five easy steps:

  1. View the circuit diagram of the solenoid.
  2. Set the winch to free spool mode.
  3. Disconnect the winch from the battery terminals.
  4. Take a jumper wire and connect it.
  5. Repeat Step 4 to turn the motor in a different direction

This article explains how you can wire a winch without using a solenoid. Then, you can use your mechanical knowledge to discover if your winch motor has a problem.

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How to Wire a Winch without a Solenoid

Let’s explore the steps in more detail.

Step 1: View the circuit diagram of the winch solenoid

Since this problem is related to wiring, the first step is to consult the circuit diagram of the winch solenoid system. This will help you understand the connections of the winch motor, where and how the positive and negative terminals of the battery are connected.

The circuit diagram would vary depending on the type of winch and the manufacturer of the winch. But most likely it will be similar to the one, shown in figure 1.

circuit diagram of a winch

You may look at the user manual of your winch for more precise pictorial representation. Near the motor, you will find three labels, A, F1, and F2. These connections are important in the next steps.

Step 2: Set the winch to free spool mode

After you have analyzed the circuit, the next step is to set the winch to free spool mode. This can be done by turning the knob. That makes the system easy to move. Also, ensure that the winch carries no load.

Step 3: Disconnect the winch from the battery terminals

In the next step, you have to disconnect the wires from the battery terminals. First, remove the connection from the positive terminal. Keep the grounded wire engaged, as it is. You can take the help of a circuit diagram while doing this step.

And for disconnecting the wires from the battery, it is recommended to use a pair of pliers.

Step 4: Connect the Jumper Wire

Now, since you have disconnected the winch motor from the battery. Next, you need a jumper wire. A 5-6” inch jumper wire will be perfect for this job. Connect the jumper wire from point A to F1. And then engage the battery through point F2. You will notice that the winch motor starts to rotate. It is rotating in one direction, to check if it can rotate in another direction, follow the next step.

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 to turn the motor in a different direction

This step is similar to step 4, but the connections of the jumper wire are opposite. Now, you have to connect the jumper wire from point A to F2. And power it by the battery through point F1. The motor should now rotate in an opposite direction.

Troubleshooting A Damaged Winch:

As I mentioned at the start that the purpose of wiring a winch without the solenoid is to troubleshoot. If your winch is not working or over-heating, you can test it by directly running the winch motor. The steps I discussed are the means to follow while investigating a harmed winch solenoid to decide whether you really want a winch solenoid substitution.

If the winch motor works perfectly fine, then that means the problem may be with the solenoid or the wiring connections. Have a look at the wiring connections, and check if they are as explained in the user manual.

How to Test the 12V Solenoid?

To test a 12 volt solenoid in a winch; first turn off the winch. Then, connect the two terminals of the voltmeter with the solenoid, if the reading is less than 12V t

hat means the solenoid needs a replacement.

Precautions while Wiring a Winch

While you are working with a winch, you need to follow some precautions.

Keep your working space clean: Clean the space you are working on. Ensure that there isn’t any stuff that can make you excursion or slip. Clean your workspace and ensure there are no pools of water around you, this is a risk while dealing with electric wirings.

Work very Carefully: Always work carefully, particularly while you are dealing with electrical connections. Keep in mind that winches are designed to pull large pounds of force; be cautious.

Use Gloves: Winches are made to pull or lift weighty items, and these things can gauge a huge number of pounds. In addition, the winch link might have metal splinters on them, so make sure to wear gloves to safeguard yourself from setbacks. Since you will work with electrical wirings too, so try to shield your hands from power.

Avoid Loose Clothing: Avoid wearing any adornments, watches, or any loose clothing as they can get caught in the winch’s moving parts.

Now, I have explained how a winch can be wired without a solenoid. But the question is, what is the purpose of using the solenoid in a winch, do we really need it?

What is the function of Solenoid in a Winch?

Solenoids are electromagnetic switches. On a vehicle, mounted with a winch, the solenoid is utilized to operate the winch motor. It is made to deliver the appropriate current without causing damage to the winch motor or switch.

A winch solenoid’s primary function is to relieve stress on the winch switch and prevent it from overheating. As a result, the solenoid is critical to the winch motor’s operation.

Learn More: How Powerful Winch Do You Really Need?

Do We Need a Solenoid on a Winch?

What do you think, do we really need a solenoid on the winch?

Yes, you really need a solenoid on a winch to assist with safeguarding the winch engine. Replacing a solenoid is much cheaper compared to replacing a motor. Though that winch motor can run without a solenoid, it needs extra caution.

Here are some of the best winches for car trailers with multiple solenoid mounting options that can prove to be really helpful in certain situations.


I hope you have learned how you can wire the winch without a solenoid, in case your winch motor is not working properly.

Do remember to follow all the safety precautions. If you are not good at these things, you should take the help of an expert technician.