Installing Pickup Truck Winch

Installing a winch on my Nissan Navara



To further improve the range of work my Nissan Navara pickup truck could do I built a custom roof rack out of Unistrut. After that I started hauling building materials to my remote cabin build site. After the first time I got stuck in the mud I realised that a winch was an essential tool for this kind of work.

So I set about installing a winch in my truck. This was a learning curve, and a hard job to take on just before the winter, but I’m super happy with the outcome, this winch has saved the day countless times since.
Installing Pickup Truck Winch
Status: Completed
Updated: March 3rd 2023

Tagged: Maker, Welding

Installing a winch on a Nissan Navara Pickup

Here’s my Nissan Navara all innocent without any scuffs or vulgar orange winch in the grill.

Truck Winch Project: Image #1

Here’s the winch I chose: Winchmax 13,500 lb (6,123kg) 12v Winch

It’s rated for 6 ton pulling power, but as I read on the internet, maybe half that realistically. In this case it’d mostly be pulling my 2 ton Nissan Navara out of the mud, so it works. For the price I’ve been very satisfied with the winch, and the intense colour is a bonus in my eyes.

Truck Winch Project: Image #2

To get started I needed a space to work on the front end of the truck – I bodged this with a tarp, which worked surprisingly well. I had expected this to be a short job, but as often is the case, it wasn’t.

Truck Winch Project: Image #3

Getting the front end off wasn’t too difficult. I didn’t have the right shim tools which would have made this easier, but it’s doable as an amateur.

Truck Winch Project: Image #4

Having exposed the structural crash bar at the front I set to work making an oversized plate to fit the winch to the truck. I needed to rise the winch about 18mm to make it fit in the dead part of the grill so I used these plates to sit the (modified) provided attachment plate on, welding everything together. This was hacky, but it worked. If I were to redo this now, I’d get something CNC’d.

Truck Winch Project: Image #5

Of course, it started snowing…

Truck Winch Project: Image #6

But I persevered and got the plate all attached (I made sure to do serious research and found the right (overkill) high tensile steel bolts. These had to be odd lengths as the crash bar isn’t cubic but has a bent profile. It was fiddly, but I made sure to over-engineer everything.

Truck Winch Project: Image #7

All rust got treated and everything got a solid coat of marine paint.

Truck Winch Project: Image #8Truck Winch Project: Image #9

After much fussy work, the winch was solidly on.

Truck Winch Project: Image #10

I made a bracket and added a heavy duty battery isolator switch, which I think is common sense and should probably come with the winch itself.

Truck Winch Project: Image #11

Next I cut away at the grill carefully, and started rebuilding the truck front end.

Truck Winch Project: Image #12

It took a while, but I’m very happy with how this build turned out. I was anxious the first few times I used the winch, but it’s been solid ever since installing it. The remote switch that comes with the Winchmax 6 ton makes recovery a breeze compared to the old days of getting stuck in the mud. Combined with my custom unistrut roof rack, this has made my Navara absolutely invaluable.

Truck Winch Project: Image #13

Let’s make mad sh*t.

I’ve made a lot of things in my life, and I intend to make a lot more. My biggest goal is to make a good and happy life.

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