Warn XD9000 Winch ...

Its been a year since I installed the XD9000 in my Montero Sport. Am I happy? YES! So far I haven't had the chance to use it in any conditions other than wet, nasty freezing cold. (Isn't that usually when you get stuck?) It hasn't failed. Its been a solid addition to the Montero Sport! My Sport weights in at about 4300 pounds. I've winched up some nasty slick rock covered in ice and snow. Its pulled me out of or over numerous snow drifts. Almost all my pulls have been without any assistance from the vehicle. With the 5-speed and a manual transmission I run the risk of rolling over the cable if the vehicle lurches forward so I let the winch do the pulling while I steer, manage the brake and winch control. The other thing I'm concerned with is a sudden jolt great enough to yank the ARB bull bar off - a definite possibility.

At the recommendation of Four To Go here in Denver I teamed the XD9000 up with the Optima "blue top" deep cycle starting battery. Excellent match! It would be almost impossible to fit a dual battery system into the Sport engine bay but the Optima has more then made up for the lack of dual batteries. After winching for 30 minutes up an ice covered rock shelf I had no problems restarting the vehicle after "accidently" shutting it off. My worry about draining the battery through winching enough to keep from restarting my Sport proved to unfounded. Go to love that battery! I haven't tried winching with the engine off so I don't know how that works out. But, the Montero Sport alternator combined with the Optima "blue top" is perfectly capable of powering the winch for extended periods.

I've read several articles stating concerns that the supplied power and ground leads should be heavier. Replaced with something like OO welding power cable. I can't speak to this. The winch power cables on the Montero Sport turn out to be very short - due to the fact that our Sports have no nose, of course. On vehicles with a greater distance from battery to winch I would certainly recommend using heavier power leads.

Another nice feature of the Optima "blue top" - the Optima has seperate screw type battery terminals besides the normal clamp style terminals. Installation of the Warn was extremely simple. Ok, pretty simple...

Installation of the winch into the ARB Bull Bar wasn't too bad. The winch fairlead needs to be drilled to match the bolt holes in the ARB bumper. This consists of two 1/2" or so holes. Drilling the fairlead can be done with a hand drill although using a drill press makes this a bit easier. I highly recommend drilling a 1/4" pilot hole first and then drilling the final 1/2" hole. Especially if you're using a hand drill. The metal of the fairlead is pretty soft so this is not a major task. Took me about five minutes to accomplish this. Bolting the winch into the bumper with the fairlead is pretty straight forward. You will have to rotate the clutch housing following the enclosed instructions so you can get the gear lever. Make sure you have a SAE Allen head wrench set handy for that task.

The next task is putting the winch and bumper back on the vehicle. DO NOT attempt this by yourself!!! I speak from personal experience. The winch and bumper together weigh in at close to 170 pounds. I managed it. Barely. Its a miracle I didn't seriously injure myself. You have to wedge the bumper on top of the bumper supports then crawl under the entire assembly to start putting bolts in. In retrospect, this was REALLY STUPID of me. 170 pounds falling on your head will probably mess up the rest of your day. Find a friend to help and PLEASE do NOT do as I did. Once the bumper is attached to the vehicle you can run the cables. You'll need a heavy duty crimper to put the ring ends on the winch cable where they attach to the battery if you use the Optima. The crimpers can be found at a welding supply shop or good hardware store (Ace Hardware) along with the ring terminals themselves. The other thing you'll want is some hose big enough to slip over the cables and a big baggy of zip ties. The cables will loop back from the passenger side of the vehicle to the driver side through the bumper and then through the radiator support up to the battery between and slightly below the radiator and windshield washer tank. There is a handy hold already through the support. But, the support is pretty sharp and will promptly wear through the casing on the cable if extra protection is not added. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES to you want that to happen!!!!!! Protect the cables!!!!!! 1000 amps shorting on the chassis will blow every electronic component in your Sport at which point it will just be cheaper to buy a new vehicle.

You'll need to bolt the control box onto the bumper as well. This is something of a task if you do it after everything is in the vehicle but not impossible. The bracket supplied with the bumper works. But, it works better if you wack it with a hammer a couple times and straighten it out. You can see from several pictures on this site that the box on my Sport sits up much further then normal. Installing the box on the bent bracket will give better access to the winch cable when re-spooling. A critical point. I spoke to ARB several times suspecting I had the wrong bracket. I even had them send another bracket but they both ended up being the same bracket. This is not a "fault" of the winch, but of ARB's designs.

Attach the cables to the battery and you're pretty much set! The last task is to attach the winch cable to the winch and spool it up. !!!CAUTION!!! THIS is the place where you do NOT want to RUSH!!! The XD9000 spools very quickly when there's not load on the winch or cable! Due to the lack of visibility and accessibility of the winch in an enclosed bumper re-spooling is a task. Keep your hands clear, take your time and pay attention!!! There won't be any time for you to yank a finger or hand out before its to late to prevent serious bodily injury!!!! And, spooling the supplied steel cable is a task. Memory in the cable from shipping, especially if its 30 degrees out like it was when I installed mine, makes it flip and flop around a lot. A handful if you're spooling it for the first time by yourself. I recommend having some help the first time you spool the cable until your comfortable and acquainted with everything.

My only real complaints are with the cable and fairlead. I switched after about eight months to the Master Pull winch rope. But, after a half dozen pulls with the supplied steel cable it was already starting to accumulate quite a few broken strands. I understand this is normal in the use of a steel winch cable (actually, its unavoidable) but during the first pulls I made sure that the cable wasn't binding or rubbing on rocks and such. The only place the cable touched while pulling was on the fairlead. Given the number of broken strands I'd accumulated under what I consider to be pretty light use I expect I would have been replacing the cable in a couple years. !!!CAUTION!!! Broken strands in the cable are the primary reason why you never work on a winch cable bare handed. Broken stands can seriously injure your hands! Make absolutely sure you have a set of heavy leather gloves on when working with the cable!!!!!

I'm also a little disappointed in the quality of the fairlead rollers. I think the rollers on the fairlead could be made of a little higher quality metal. After only three or four off angle pulls, with the cable running on the side rollers of the fairlead, the rollers were pretty scared up. Scared up enough that I should replace them before using the Master Pull winch line. The cable has worn through the chrome plating into the softer metal beneath leaving sharp edges and a rough, sharp surface that will quickly fray the Master Pull line.

Overall, though, I've been very happy with the XD9000. Plenty of power to pull a 4500 pound vehicle out of or over just about anything. An excellent addition to your Sport!