How to Easily Replace a Boat Trailer Winch Strap

How to Easily Replace a Boat Trailer Winch Strap

August 28, 2023

Even though you shouldn’t use a boat trailer winch strap as a replacement for proper tie-downs, ratchet straps, and outboard support when you tow your boat down the road, your winch is an incredibly important piece of equipment. Your winch, its strap, and its hook help to center your boat on the trailer, help bring the boat up snugly to the bow roller, and, with a quality strap and locked ratchet gears, they help keep the boat where it should be as you transport your vessel.

You’ll really be at a disadvantage, possibly even clogging up the boat ramp, if you have a winch failure, so here’s how to address that if your winch strap is getting too worn out.

How Do I Know if I Should Replace My Boat Trailer Winch Strap?

Generally speaking, here are several signs that it’s time to replace your boat trailer winch strap:

  • You winch strap is fraying or has other visible damage — the clock is definitely ticking on a visibly damaged strap

  • Your winch strap is who-knows-how-old — it might just be a matter of time here until it fails

  • The hook on your winch strap old and deteriorating — you can replace the hook, but it’s likely just a matter of time until the strap needs replacing, too

Especially when you’re trailering and launching at shallow ramps, you need your winch and winch strap to perform so you aren’t risking damage to your boat or risking a struggle to pull out of the water. Thankfully, replacing it is a fairly quick and easy job.

How to Replace a Boat Trailer Winch Strap

With the right know-how, replacing a boat trailer winch strap is as easy as 1-2-3.

Tools and Materials Needed

Here’s what you’ll need to install a new boat trailer winch strap:

  • Winch strap & hook

  • Socket Set (depending on the design of your winch)

  • Screwdrivers (depending on the design of your winch)

  • Thread Lock (depending on the design of your winch)

  • A tray to hold any hardware you remove

In most cases, that short list is all that you need.

Step 1: Remove the Old Strap — Here’s How

First, disengage the gear lock on your winch, then pull the winch strap until you get to the very end where it attaches to the drum (spool).

Here, you’ll notice whether your winch is simple in its construction or whether it has outside pieces that you’ll have to remove in order to access where the strap connects. These outside pieces normally require a socket set or a screwdriver, which you may also need in the next step.

Once you get access to the drum-end of the strap, make note of or snap a reference picture showing how the strap threads through the drum and its components. You’ll want to put the new strap in the same way.

To remove the old strap, it may require removing a nut and bolt that slides through the loop on the drum-end or it may be as easy as pulling the strap loose and sliding a pin out of the loop. Be sure to set these and any other hardware aside where they won’t drop or roll off.

Step 2: Secure the New Strap

Following the same path as the old strap and using the same hardware, unwind the new strap and thread the loop side into the drum, then secure it with either the pin or the bolt. Once you’ve done that, make sure the hardware is securely in place. If your winch uses a bolt passing through the drum-end of the strap, apply thread lock and tighten the nut securely.

Step 3: Crank Your Winch and Test It

For the final step, hold the strap tightly so the initial spool is tight and flat and crank your winch so it gathers the entire length of the winch strap the way it’s supposed to. Then reinstall any outside pieces on the winch, if that’s how your winch is designed.

If you have loose hardware, if the spool is loose, or if the winch doesn’t hold tight when you pull on it, check how you’ve tightened the winch’s hardware, check the way your winch strap is wound, and check your gear lock. Thankfully, there’s a limited number of spots you’ll have to adjust to get it right.

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