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Anyone have any experience with Harbor Freight winches?


SafariRumbler

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Looking at 12,000 lb harbor freight badlands winch. It’s 299 dollars. Anyone had any experience with it. Am I getting what I pay for. Any ideas to upgrade it to make it better?
 

twistedlv

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When it comes to critical components like a winch, I'm 'buy once, cry once'.
Unless you just want bumper bling, I'd get a Warn.
 
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Chris

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Those things are pure shit.

I know a guy who has gone through 4 of them in 2 years, no kidding. He said he keeps getting them for free since he buys Harbor Freights "extended warranty" or whatever they call it. So anytime it breaks, they give him a new one.

Okay, that's fine and dandy, but do you really want it to fail on you when you're out on the trail in a sticky situation?

He told me that he would never recommend them to anyone, but that since he keeps getting them for free, he's inclined to keep doing that until it runs out.
 

Jerry Bransford

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If you actually need a winch for trail recoveries and not just a bumper decoration, avoid cheap winches like from Harbor Freight or Smittybilt. When you need a winch, you're in a predicament/stuck and it may make the difference in getting out on your own or not.

For something this important, if you actually need a winch, stick with known good quality so it's reliable and it'll work when it's needed. Warn has a well deserved sterling reputation. Other decent brands include Ramsey and Engo. One huge benefit to Warn is they have been making vehicle recovery winches longer than anyone and they maintain stocks of replacement parts for all of them. Not so for the cheap winches.
 
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Mud dauber

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Also watch some winch reviews on utube, you will see many winches in action. Then decide based on what you can afford and how deep of a hole you are looking at getting out of.
Good Luck I need a winch as well, I want a Warn.
 
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Wildman

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As I said in your other post stay away from the Harbor Freight winches. I know more than one person who bought on and when they went to use it in the trail it crapped out on them. Buying a lifetime warranty doesn't help you when you are stuck in the sand or mud and the only way out is with your winch.

I have always owned Warn and swear by them. But I am also a 8274 lover. I have had one on my last 4 Jeeps. I had a Warn 5,000lb winch on the rear of my Nissan pickup. And don't over buy on the size you need either.
Rule of thumb for a winch is 1 1/2 the weight of your rig minimum. So if your Jeep weighs 4,000lbs then you need a 6,000lb min. Most go for 2 times the weight. So a 8K winch would be enough.

Read reviews on brand and see what they say about the other brands other than Warn. And as I said get on Craigslist and the Facebook market place and watch for a used winch to come up. I have seen a Warn for $200 before becasue it needed a new cable. You'll be money ahead to buy a quality winch the first time.
 

S.McArthur

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They have a deal for Smittybilt $260 9000 pounds. I’m gonna get that.
I have a harbor freight 2500lb atv winch I barley trust to lift deer into my truck. Stay away from them for recovery.

Some will chime in and tell you shittybilt winches are terrible, I have the XRC 9.5 Gen2 (i'm assuming that's the one you are looking at), no issues and I've used the crap out of it. Mostly to help pull trees in the direction I want them to fall, a few times when I got stuck alone on the trail. The highlighted part is where I'll be quoted saying I've never had to rely on my winch etc... blah blah.
Like anything else, know how to use it. Spool it under a load before you ever use it for realz (take it all the way out, spool it back in under load).
Get a snatch block and understand how pulleys work etc.
 
OP
S

SafariRumbler

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I have a harbor freight 2500lb atv winch I barley trust to lift deer into my truck. Stay away from them for recovery.

Some will chime in and tell you shittybilt winches are terrible, I have the XRC 9.5 Gen2 (i'm assuming that's the one you are looking at), no issues and I've used the crap out of it. Mostly to help pull trees in the direction I want them to fall, a few times when I got stuck alone on the trail. The highlighted part is where I'll be quoted saying I've never had to rely on my winch etc... blah blah.
Like anything else, know how to use it. Spool it under a load before you ever use it for realz (take it all the way out, spool it back in under load).
Get a snatch block and understand how pulleys work etc.
Great advice thanks


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Farmergreg

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I'll be the contrarian:
Son bought the Harbor Freight 12,000# for his rig and he's used it everytime he's been out and it's worked w/o fail. Bought the $29 remote for it too.
Personally I bought the Warn M8000S and have only used it once but it worked fine.

@11th_Hour_LJ can relate a story of HF vs Warn if he chimes in.
 

Drizit

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Here's the thing, the HF stuff tends to be, like most things from mainland China, hit or miss. QC is not one of their strengths unless someone is standing there making them do it. So you may get a good one, you may get a bad one, do you want to roll the dice on the trail? On the front of my truck is an warn 8274 from the 80s that I got cheap, rebuilt and upgraded. By the time I was done I'm about a grand Canadian into it and it's better than original. I just picked up a warn 9.5xp to rebuild and sell for $80 Canadian. It's going to need a motor bering, some cleaning, fresh grease and a cable. I'll probably sell it working with no cable for $300-400 canadian when I get around to it. That's right in the range of a crappy Chinese winch. Now if you don't want to put a bit of work into rebuilding a cheap warn and you can't pop for a new one then I'd look at smittybilt. One of the local shops around here has it on their shop truck (it gets wheeled hard and often) the GM doesn't like the smittybilt and wants to put on a warn but the owner said he can't until it fails... He's been trying his best to make it fail for 4 or 5 years now... He still doesn't have a warn for it.

--
There must have been a time
when we could have said no.
 

Jerry Bransford

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They have a deal for Smittybilt $260 9000 pounds. I’m gonna get that.
That's just as bad of a decision as a Harbor Freight Tools winch would be. Of the well-known brands of Jeep parts, Smittybilt by far as the worst/most abysmal reputation now. Which is a shame because before old man Smitty died, Smittybilt's name was superb. After he died, investors bought the rights to use the Smittybilt name. Just the name. They import everything from China, Smittybilt hasn't actually manufactured anything since Smitty died. The current owners/managers of Smittybilt have nothing to do with the original Smittybilt company we all loved way back then.

Going cheap on floor mats, seat covers, air fresheners, etc. is fine. Don't go cheap on critical things that can make the difference in getting home or back to camp at night. Water pumps, radiators, sensors, alternators, starter motors, winches, etc..
 

Michael Alzen

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I have a barricade 9,500 that I bought for $350 which has worked fine for me so far, but every time I use it I think "is this the time it fails?". On my list of upgrades is a warn 8k.
 

chad

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I’d rather have a good chain ratchet than a Harbor freight winch. It’s best not to rush and save for a Warn you’ll only have to buy one. probably cheaper in the long run.
 

pagrey

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The Smittybilt is going to be fine. Little reality check, the last thread on this forum discussing a failed winch was about a Warn.

Just like bigfoot, the unreliable and unsafe chinese winch isn't real. They sell tons of them and guess what, there aren't videos filling youtube of winches failing. Guess why?

There was another recent thread about winches and somebody directly asked what fails on Chinese winches and there were no answers.
 
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