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Winch Maintenance and Rope Replacement

Argo’s XTVs are some of the most capable off-road vehicles on the planet, but even they can get stuck sometimes. That’s why most models come equipped with a Warn winch. Rated for at least 3,500 lbs, these winches can move a fully-loaded amphibious ATV, and help you rescue other vehicles on the trail or at your worksite. While you may not think about your winch until you need it, this device requires frequent maintenance. Here’s what you need to know to keep your winch in good working order.

Protecting Your Winch

Operate the clutch before your ride, rocking it back and forth until it moves freely. This keeps it from freezing up from lack of use.

Inspect and clean your winch after every ride. Mud and dirt can get packed into the winch housing and spindle, causing corrosion and making it hard for the spool to turn.

Apply dielectric grease on the wiring connectors to stop corrosion. Connectors can be found on the motor side of the winch case and on the contactor, located next to the firewall in the engine compartment.

Apply silicone spray or other spray lubricants on the fairlead rollers to keep them moving smoothly. Lubricate the rope to prevents corrosion.

After using your winch, take the time to wind the cable correctly. If the cable overlaps, it can bind. This makes the cable hard to unspool, and may crimp and damage the cable. For the load brake to work correctly, the rope must wind from the bottom of the spool.

When storing your vehicle, spooling the cable until the hook is against the fairlead will damage the rollers. Instead, leave about three feet of cable unspooled, and attach the hook to something that will keep the cable off of the ground, like the brush guard. Reel in the cable to take up the remaining slack.

Maintenance Schedule

Before use, or every 90 days:

– Check the fasteners and electrical connections for tightness.
– Check for exposed wiring and damaged insulation.
– Check the rope and hook for damage.

After each use:

– Wipe down winch, rope and remote to remove any dirt or other contaminates.
– If the rope was submerged in water, stretch the rope to squeeze out any moisture trapped inside.


Continual use near your winch’s load limit will overheat the motor, tripping the load limiter. The remote has a light showing the electrical load:

Green – 50% load
Yellow – 75% load
Red – 90% load
Flashing red – Load limiter triggered

There are two ways to reduce the load on the motor:

– Disengage the clutch and pull the rope out manually when anchoring the winch.
– Use double line rigging. The added mechanical advantage decreases the load on the motor.

It takes up to 20 minutes for the motor to cool down once the limiter trips. Once triggered, the load limiter can be reset by unspooling the cable manually. If the light on the remote continues flashing after this reset, have your winch serviced by a dealer.

Stretching and Replacing the Cable

Stretching your winch’s rope keeps the strands from unwinding, and squeezes out any moisture trapped between the metal strands, preventing rust. Warn also recommends using this process to put a load on a new cable before use. This stretching process requires two people.

1. Drive to your Argo to a flat area that has enough space to fully spool out the rope.
2. Disengage the winch clutch. Pull out the rope until it only wraps around the spool 5 times. If you’re replacing the rope, unreel the rope completely. Unscrew the retention bolt on the screw. Remove the old rope, then attach the new rope with the bolt. Reel in the rope until it wraps around the spool 5 times.
3. Engage the clutch and anchor the rope.
3. Back up your Argo until there is almost no slack on the rope. Set the parking brake and shut the engine off. Draw in the rest of the slack using the remote.
4. Have one person sit in the XTV with the winch remote. The other person should stand to the side of the vehicle to watch the rope wrap around the spool.
5. Start the engine and shift into neutral. Release the parking brake, while lightly applying the main brake. Reel in 6 feet of rope. Check the spool to make sure the rope is wrapping correctly. If the rope is pushing through lower layers of wrapped cable, unspool the rope, back up and start again, using lighter braking.
6. Reel in the rope until your Argo is 6 feet away from the anchor. You can now detach the hook and use your winch normally.

Your Source for Everything Argo

Shank’s Argo is one of the largest dealers of Argo amphibious ATVs in the East. We always keep several models in stock, we have a massive warehouse of OEM parts, and our service department can repair your XTV and add accessories. Come see us if you’re looking for a better off-road vehicle, or parts and accessories for your current Argo. Our shop is located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. You can also schedule a test drive at

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