You might not think about the winch on your boat trailer too often, but it’s a vitally important workhorse that gets used every single time you launch or load your boat. Its simple gear-reduction design lets you manually pull a boat weighing thousands of pounds quickly onto the trailer with minimal physical exertion, and it will typically last years or decades with little maintenance.
However, the winch strap is subjected to massive forces whenever the boat is loaded or the trailer hits a bump in the road. Abrasions and creases, which will weaken the webbing over time, result from normal boat ramp activities or from improper winding. Thought the strap is typically rot-resistant, coiling it up while wet can eventually weaken the threads used to sew on the hook. For these reasons, you might eventually find yourself needing to replace the strap.
Not to worry, most replacement straps cost only $20 to 30 and are a snap to change, even if you have limited tools and mechanical ability. This Mercury® Quick Tip video will show you exactly how it’s done, using only a basic set of wrenches and sockets and a tube of marine grease.
Once the new strap is installed and carefully wound on the spool, you’ll be ready to hit the water once again, secure in the knowledge that the winch will be up to the task when it’s time to go home.
To help the winch and all its parts last longer, here are a few more tips:
- When washing the boat, make sure to rinse off the winch as well, especially in saltwater.
- The strap should be reeled in carefully and evenly every single time – even when in a hurry – with no twists, wrinkles or folds. Make sure it doesn’t bunch up on the side of the spool.
- Once or twice a year, lubricate the gears and all other moving metal parts with penetrating oil or a marine grease such as Quicksilver 2-4-C, as appropriate.
- If any part of the winch looks suspect, get it repaired or replaced immediately. Don’t take a chance on it failing on the boat ramp or the highway.