Solenoids are electromagnetic switches. The winch solenoid is used to activate the winch motor on a vehicle-mounted winch. It is designed to supply the required current without damaging the winch motor or the winch switch.
It is activated when current from the battery is directed to the solenoid by pressing the switch of activation. The activation of the winch solenoid sends current to the motor. Then the winch motor begins to run the winch drum. The typical winch uses separate winch solenoids for reverse and forward. Strongest best winches use four winch solenoids.
Common winches use a separate solenoid to move the winch drum. But series wound winches have a four winch solenoid arrangement. It is used with 2 solenoids working in unison for both winch directions.
Solenoid mounting can be one of the major consideration. The winches can either have a remote solenoid pack or an integrated pack. Both types of solenoid mounting options have some benefits.
When a solenoid is mounted on the winch, the solenoid is commonly mounted above the winch motor. This eliminates extra wiring, reduces the opportunities for chaffing a wire and create a short in the electrical systems of the winch. Remotely mounted solenoids protect the solenoid from excessive heat created by the motor of the winch.
A plus point of having remotely mounted solenoid switches on any winch is space savings. The winch becomes a smaller package and requires less room to mount when the winch solenoid is removed from the top of the winch motor. A smaller winch is more easily protected from damage. It’s easier to hide behind a brush guard or bumper.
2 or 4 Solenoids?
Some winches have two solenoids and some have four solenoids. Two solenoids configurations are typically found in permanent magnet winches. They are less powerful, less reliable and cheaper. Four solenoid configurations are stronger, reliable and lighter. It’s usually found in series wound winches.
How to Test a Winch Solenoid
It’s not a complicated job to remove the solenoids for a thorough check. This gives you an opportunity to clean and ensure all electrical connections are tight when reassembling.
- Check the connection of cable from the winch solenoid to the battery. Clean the cable terminal with a wire brush, if they look corroded. But if the cable look frayed, replace them.
- Disconnect the positive cable from the battery and after that, unscrew the solenoid cover. Ensure that all the connections in the solenoid are secure. If a clicking noise is heard when you turn the winch, a wire might be loose.
- Touch a voltmeter to the big studs on the solenoid with the winch turned off. The two big studs are on the winch side of the solenoid. The voltmeter will read Twelve volts if the solenoid is functioning properly.
- Now, test the two little studs on the management side of the solenoid that’s opposite of the winch side with the winch off. Look at the meter reading, If the meter reads 12 volts, then the solenoid is not functioning properly.
- Conduct another voltmeter test on the big studs with the winch turned on. There ought to be no OHM reading.
- Measure the OHM reading of the two little studs with the voltmeter once the winch is on. If there’s no reading on the meter, then the solenoid isn’t operating properly. The two little studs are energized with the winch activated.
We recommend that you just replace solenoids in pairs as it is likely that as one is faulty, the opposite is not that far away from failing. You can keep the previous still functioning solenoid as a spare.
Don’t ever just begin replacing components on a vehicle. Take the time to research the cause of a bad connection. Disconnect the battery before you remove the solenoid covering. The battery has enough power to give you a big electric shock.