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Warn VR8 versus Smittybilt X20

FadeToGray

Member
Feb 4, 2019
93
NH
Warn VR8 with steel cable or Smittybilt Gen X20 with synthetic line?

Would really prefer Warn synthetic, but price point wise, it doesn't fit the budget. looking to keep it around $500 or so.

Think I'm better off going with the steel cable to get the Warn quality?

Looks like people are saying good things about the X20 on the forum here, but I've been burned by Smittybilt products in the past.
 

Josh-TJ

New Member
Feb 21, 2019
5
Colorado
Smittybilt 98495 XRC Synthetic Rope Winch - 9500 lb. Load Capacity
On amazon for $431. 4WP.com might still be paying tax at same price.
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
38,127
Salem, Oregon
Given some of the horrible warranty issues I've heard about Warn and dealing with their customer service, I'm reluctant to put much faith in them anymore.

I could give two shits what anyone else says. While I generally stay away from Smittybilt (and rightfully so), I know a number of people who wheel with the Smittybilt X20 and have had nothing but good luck with it. I know some guys personally who have really put it through the ringer, and it hasn't let them down (their words, not mine).

I only know of one person who had one fail, but he told me Smittybilt sent him a new one, no questions asked.

Warn makes good winches, no doubt. However, I have to wonder if they are resting on their laurels. Like I said, I've heard bad stuff lately about their warranties and their apparently horrible, horrible customer service. Go read some of the horror stories about this on the Amazon reviews for some of their winches, and you'll see what I mean.

One thing is for sure, electronics these days mostly come from China. That being said, even the most high end Warn winches likely have Chinese electronics. Does that mean they are crap? No, not at all. My iPhone is made in China, your computer is made in China, etc. The Chinese can build very, very good stuff, in many cases way better stuff than we can build here. However, it's just a matter of who built it in China, what kind of quality control they had, etc.

I personally have no problem recommending the Smittybilt X20. I don't think you'll ever catch me recommending another Smittybilt product other than their X20 winch. I'm usually a pretty "brand loyal" person (I love Savvy for instance), but I am also not afraid to go against the grain from time-to-time and admit when I think there is another product out there that is good that might not be the typical brand I'm used to.

I'm not the guy who does the crazy ass wheeling some of these guys do down in JV. However, I know a number of people who do wheel very hard, and as I said above, they have nothing but good things to say about the X20.

Take that for what it's worth.

Oh, and for an example of some of the nightmare stories involving Warn's customer service, check out some of the bad reviews, such as the ones on this Warn Xeon 10-S:


And here’s another:


Read through that entire thread and see how many comments there are from different people about their Warn winches failing on them.

My thought is that Warn winches used to be a lot better (as did their customer service), but they are now resting on their laurels.

Anyways, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, and this is all just food for thought.
 

billiebob

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
Oct 31, 2015
3,837
Kootenays, BC, Canada
The VR series are Warns bottom line, built off shore. I'd likely pick the X20 if I could not afford an M8000. I haven't heard any horror stories about either winch but money talks.
 
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Honeybadger

Member
Mar 14, 2019
39
SoCal
I’ve had my X20 w/ synthetic for a couple years now and has worked very well. Switched to a factor55 link on the end to sit flush against the fairlead. So glad it’s synthetic rope as I’m getting a lot more conscious of adding weight to my TJ.
 

Mrgreg66

Member
Mar 18, 2019
87
Hayden, Idaho
I've been wondering if the Warn VR that is closer to my budget would be any better than any other Chinese made winch and based upon the feedback for that winch and the X20, I am beginning to lean toward the Smittybuilt. I Won't buy a winch that is beyond my reasonable budget (I know it's shocking but my house payments, daughter's college tuition and a few other things keep pushing Jeep upgrades down the budget priority list) but also don't want to waste money on a winch that will not perform when I need it.
 
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jazngab

TJ apprentice
Supporting Member
Aug 23, 2018
703
Montgomery County, PA, USA
I was faced with the same situation recently and went with the x2o. I paid $450 shipped and the reviews on them on multiple websites were mainly positive. Not saying it’s better than the top line warn winches but I wanted to stay within a certain budget for a winch. Added to the fact if I wheel I’m usually with other people who also have winches.
 
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Jerry Bransford

TJ Guru
Supporting Member
Nov 9, 2015
10,959
Escondido California
I've been wondering if the Warn VR that is closer to my budget would be any better than any other Chinese made winch and based upon the feedback for that winch and the X20, I am beginning to lean toward the Smittybilt
That'd be a big mistake in my personal opinion. Warn is a long-term winch manufacturer and they have spares for everything they've ever made. If you have a problem with a Warn winch 25 years from now you'll be able to get parts for it. Smittybilt doesn't even always have parts for their current winches, let alone their earlier winches. A Smittybilt winch owner experienced a solenoid failure on his fairly new winch. Smittybilt couldn't provide the part he needed so, because it was still covered under warranty, they shipped him a new replacement. That sounds great until you realize they're not going to do that after its warranty has expired. Then what?

Warn has never had a problem sending me parts over the past 20 years when I've broken something... in fact they've never charged me even though things were long out of warranty. The last part I needed was a Warn manual hub replacement after crushing one against a rock. They sold their hub line to Randy's Ring & Pinion years ago but Randy's didn't have the part I needed. Guess who had it, Warn... shipped out that day and I had it two days later. No charge. I can't guarantee there'd never be a charge but I'll guarantee one thing, that based on their past support I'm sticking with Warn.
 

Alex01

Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Ride of the Month Winner
Mar 23, 2018
2,464
Martinez, CA, USA
Given some of the horrible warranty issues I've heard about Warn and dealing with their customer service, I'm reluctant to put much faith in them anymore.
I have a warn m8000 and the motor went out after a few months of ownership. I called warn and they shipped out a new motor no questions asked.
 
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Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
38,127
Salem, Oregon
I have a warn m8000 and the motor went out after a few months of ownership. I called warn and they shipped out a new motor no questions asked.
How long ago was this? In recent years, I've been reading nothing but bad stuff about their customer service and warranty. Of course some of this could have to do with the fact that you only ever read negative stuff on the internet. However, it's very discouraging to hear from a company who is such a big name.

In any case, a lot of people rip on those Smittybilt X20 winches, but I know a number of people who use the hell out of them and haven't had any issues with them.
 

Alex01

Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Ride of the Month Winner
Mar 23, 2018
2,464
Martinez, CA, USA
How long ago was this? In recent years, I've been reading nothing but bad stuff about their customer service and warranty. Of course some of this could have to do with the fact that you only ever read negative stuff on the internet. However, it's very discouraging to hear from a company who is such a big name.

In any case, a lot of people rip on those Smittybilt X20 winches, but I know a number of people who use the hell out of them and haven't had any issues with them.
October 2018. I called the customer support line which is based out of Washington and they had a part on a truck the next day.

I always tell my parents and wife to take negative reviews as a consideration but not a deciding factor. I feel people who don't have an issue usually don't come back to say good things, but those with a bad experience are much more likely to share / vent about their issue.
 

bobthetj03

vibrajeep
Supporting Member
Ride of the Month Winner
Feb 3, 2017
8,951
NorCal
I've had my Warn M8000 for over 12 years. Sits in front 24/7 eating bugs, dirt, rain, snow, mud, pretty much all of the elements, and has never failed me.
 
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Twowheelz

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Sep 19, 2018
142
Woodstock GA
I agree with Jerry about the parts and customer service. I have had good luck with Superwinch over the years and they always answer the phone and have taken care of me . The Tiger Shark is a great budget winch and you can get parts for it . It is a little slow though. Or save a little more and do the M8000
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
38,127
Salem, Oregon
Funny, I read nothing but good about Warn's support and my own experiences with them mirror that.
That's good to hear! Like I said earlier, I have no personal experience with their customer support. I only know what I've read. But, as I also said, it's true that you tend to only read the bad stuff on the internet.

Good to know that my fears are unfounded!
 

billiebob

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
Oct 31, 2015
3,837
Kootenays, BC, Canada
Warn has 3 lines. The Cadillac made in the USA models like the M8000. I have no doubt this line they will always support. Bottom of the line VR Series competes with the cheapest winches made.....and support will be no better than the competition.

The choice, $1400.00 with bullet proof warranty, support. OR $300.00 for minimal or zero support after warranty. OR Warns name..... for not much better support than the cheap off shore import.

The real choice? Do you wheel alone? What will you do if your winch quits. Will they ever invite you again? I like being independent more than being cheap. I bought a TJR, not a Nissan Xtera.
 
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Equilibrium31

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Apr 7, 2018
943
Burnsville, MN, USA
I get that Warn has a good reputation, but I couldn't see bothering with the VR. Sure, you may get a good warranty, but I'd rather have a winch that is less likely to break in the first place. If I had the budget, I would have gone for a classic M8000 Warn winch, but I went with a Superwinch Tiger Shark because I heard good things about that specific model and it was within my price range. Given what I've heard about Smittybilt, it seems solid enough as well.

But with Warn, I'd say go big or go home. The VR is imported parts and assembled in the U.S., so they're at least cutting some corners to make the cost match and I have yet to hear much about the reliability of the VR series units.
 

CaliSteve

TJ Enthusiast
Mar 29, 2018
238
Southern California, CA, USA
I have a new Warn M8000 with TRE synthetic rope, safety fairlead and associated TRE recovery items sitting on the work bench waiting to be installed, am eager to get it installed. This my first winch so wanted to be sure I had confidence in the equipment I put on the Jeep.
 
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