Installing a Warn 9.5Ti Winch on the Jeep TJ Wrangler
(Photo courtesy of
Top on my list of accessories for a Jeep 4WD is an electric winch. If you drive off-pavement in
rough country, sand, snow or mud, you will find a winch valuable. The Warn model shown is a
Jeep® Accessories offering from
the Mopar® and Jeep® Accessories
article and my accompanying photos share the steps involved with a quality winch and winch mount
installation. The Jeep is a late TJ Wrangler Rubicon. Warn's popular 9.5Ti unit with a Warn mounting kit is
my winch of choice for this application.—Moses Ludel
The winch mounting position is important. Winches that mount above the
frame/bumper height are better suited to off-pavement use. Often, when you most need a winch, the front of
the vehicle is low to the ground. Above bumper height, the cable and spool will still be easy to
In the worst instance, a below-bumper mount could
actually become buried in snow, mud or a creek. As with any front bumper extension, your Jeep Wrangler’s
approach angle may also suffer from a below-the-bumper mount. A winch near the ground also increases the
likelihood of dragging the cable during pulls. Many 4x4 owners,
however, prefer hiding a winch behind the bumper.
1: On Wranglers, an open grille frontal area is important. In very hot climates,
under severe loads, a tall profile winch may compromise the Jeep’s cooling system. Decreased airflow over the
radiator core reduces radiator efficiency. Here, the modern, low-profile winch serves best. Shown is a new
Warn 9.5Ti unit ready to mount on a TJ Rubicon.
Winch 2: Options are another factor when selecting your winch. Winch
manufacturers frequently offer extra equipment. A roller fairlead, winch cover, remote controls,
portable/receiver mount, hand tools or a wiring harness may be items you’ll want.
Winch 3: Mechanical engineers design winches and winch mounts. As life,
limb and expensive property are at stake, proper installation is a necessity. Your safest strategy is a
manufactured winch mount kit from the winch builder. Such installation kits fit the frame and vehicle requirements
of your Jeep. Mount kits address load points, the strength of frame attachments and ease of access to the winch.
Engineers take the rated load capacity of the winch and apply that force safely to the vehicle’s
frame—not the Wrangler’s
4: Warn kits include proper hardware and instructions. (If your Jeep has
modifications that make a kit difficult to install, consult the winch manufacturer for possible solutions.)
Eliminating any part of a winch installation package could compromise safety and load capacity.
Likewise, use only the graded and designated hardware included in the kit. Bolts, nuts, spacers and sleeves
each take safety into consideration.
Winch 5: Operators often underestimate the load forces involved with
winching. A cable drawn to maximum load capacity must transfer force safely to the
frame. This concern goes beyond the winch mount and hardware. When
a winch attaches to the OEM bumper or brackets, the OE hardware must also meet standards. If the OE bumper
has been removed, make certain that the attaching bolts and nuts meet or exceed OE Jeep standards for your
model. Winch kit engineering assumes that the vehicle meets OEM engineering
6: The first step in the TJ Wrangler winch installation is removal of the plastic
cover over the stabilizer bar assembly. Warn’s mounting plate will fit precisely into the space behind the
bumper and utilizes OEM bolt attachment points.
7: Winch assembly begins with bolting the fairlead to the mounting plate. This
mounting plate is uniquely designed and tested for use on the TJ Wrangler. The YJ Wrangler plate is similar.
The roller fairlead is an upgrade furnished with this 9.5Ti winch package. Hawse fairleads are typically a
8: I use Loctite on all mounting screws, nuts and bolts. This is added assurance of an
installation that will not loosen or fail in service. Winching forces dictate this level of
precaution. Here, the Warn square nuts fit into the winch pedestal slots. Bolt alignment is a shear
load instead of an elongation pull on the threads.
9: I coat these bolt threads liberally with Loctite 242. This will provide protection
from vibration and loads while also helping to prevent rust and seizure of hardware. This installation could
easily be removed at a later date for transplanting the winch to another vehicle. Note: Warn’s mounting plates are vehicle specific applications. Winch
units, however, fit any of the mounting plates.
10: The screws torque to specifications provided in the Warn instruction sheet for
each winch type and installation. Always follow instructions and use a torque wrench for final tightening. I
re-check torque after hardware sets for several minutes.
11: Here, the winch mounts to the mounting plate. The assembly will now bolt onto
the frame of the Wrangler. This is the common Warn mounting approach for CJ, YJ and TJ models. Mounting
plates are model specific; the winch unit fits any of the Warn mounting plate systems.
12: Winch mount installation begins with removal of the upper bumper bolts and
stabilizer bolts. Following the Warn instruction sheet, there are OEM bolts and replacement bolts. Make sure
correct hardware fits at each location.
13: A washer stack is part of the Warn hardware package. Here, leveling the stack
assures a flat fit of the winch assembly. You want the winch on a correct plane for safe
pulling. Spend time to properly level and secure the winch.
14: The factory nuts in the frame can suffer from the self-starting OEM bolts.
Often, these threads have a roughness or slight stretch. Rather than risk forcing the bolts into these
threads, I chase the threads with a tap, carefully preserving material. The aim is to turn the tap
slightly, back off and relieve, use plenty of oil or penetrant, and make
sure that you leave the metal intact. This will assure a correct fit. Note use of a tie strap to
keep the bumper and bolt holes aligned during the bolt installation.
15: Torque all bolts to specifications found on the Warn instruction sheet.
The OEM bolts have Torx heads, and in this application a T55 size. I use a quality Torx socket to withstand
the required torque. Quality tools assure good fit and proper tightening of hardware. Here I use Loctite 272
on threads and a torque wrench. Re-check torque after hardware sets for several
16: I select the right grille opening for
these heavy amperage cables. Route cables with great care, avoiding sharp edges or any chafing surfaces that could
cut or wear through the cable insulation and create a dangerous short. These cables have current at all times,
direct from the battery. I use convolution sleeve tubing as added protection, shielding the points
that pass metal edges. Opening in the grille/core support is alongside air conditioning tubes, a somewhat
17: As cables rise into the engine bay, be aware that the body and frame have mount
separation. There is slight movement between the frame-mounted winch and the body. Route the sleeved tubing
safely and away from heat, any moving parts and trail debris. I prefer elevating these cables and keeping
them visible for quick inspection.
Winch 18: A sensible attachment point for the cable sleeve is this
hefty air conditioning hose. Although the hose has a good insulating surface, I add protection with the use of
convolution tubing and industrial strength plastic ties. My approach takes vibration, twisting and a long service
life into account. Since plastic ties can
cut into rubber and wire insulation, so the convolution tubing helps prevent
Winch 19: Here, I have attached the cable sleeve to a rigid air
conditioning tube. There is slight slack in the sleeved cable harness to allow for body and parts movement. A
short piece of convolution tubing wrapped around the air conditioning tube protects the aluminum tubing. Industrial
strength, UV and heat resistant tie straps work well here. I cinch the tie strap snuggly to prevent slip and
twisting of the sleeved cable.
Winch 20: Here, the cable sweeps to the battery. There is rubber
insulation across the battery tie-down brace. Always consider movement, rough surfaces and how the cable might
be affected by underhood components. These winch cables attach directly to the battery and therefore could
deliver very high amperage if shorted or grounded. If these cables short to ground—anywhere in the circuit—the cables will fry, and the battery could be severely damaged. Route and attach these cables carefully and
21: Cable routing overview shows the sleeve out of harm’s way, away from the
alternator, body parts and heat. Inspect the plastic sleeve and cables regularly. Make sure connections at
the battery remain secure, clean and in position. Be aware of the high amperage loads and gauge of these
wires. Protect them at all times!
22: This engine bay view shows the routing of the winch cables. (See the
convolution tubing near the air cleaner box.) The mounting plate and winch installation follows step-by-step
guidelines. Cable routing, however, varies with underhood equipment, engine type and accessories. Use
discretion and care when routing and securing these high-amperage winch cables.
Winch 23: Front view of the installed Warn 9.5Ti winch shows the winch
wire cable and hook installed. This system is one step from being service ready: Before winching, the cable must be
reeled out until 20-25 feet of cable remains on the drum; at this point, the cable should be spooled back carefully
with a load applied.
Caution—Never put a new cable into service without first spooling the cable out then spooling it back
onto the drum under load. Follow instructions furnished with the winch and wire
Warn Industries has a
variety of technical videos available at YouTube. You can quickly access the video series
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