What Is a Winch Bar?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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A winch bar is a device used to tighten and release a winch strap and is commonly found on flatbed trucks and trailers. Manufactured of solid, tool-grade steel, a winch bar is designed to provide ample leverage to properly tighten a winch strap. While the most common type of winch bar is that of a solid steel bar, several manufacturers also offer a ratcheting bar. The ratcheting bar operates in much the same manner as a ratcheting socket wrench; the ratchet end of the bar is placed in the winch roller and tightened without removing the bar. This saves valuable time over the repeated removal and placement of the solid bar into the winch roller mechanism.

The typical flatbed truck or trailer uses a winch and strap to secure cargo in place of a chain and binder. The strap allows for a more secure load without the need to re-tighten as frequently as the chain system. The winch used in this type of system is a basic spool that is held in place by a pawl. One end of the winch bar is designed to release the locking pawl mechanism by simply striking the pawl sharply with the bar. The opposite end, or the thick end, is designed to fit inside openings on the winch center-spool while the operator winds the strap tight.


With a typical winch bar, the operator must place the bar into the center-spool, wind the spool approximately a quarter turn, remove the bar and repeat the process until the winch strap is tightened sufficiently to retain the cargo. This can often require several sessions of removing and replacing the winch bar, costing valuable time as well as tiring the operator. This unpleasantness is multiplied in rainy or snowy weather. Recognizing the need for a change, several companies have begun to manufacture and market a ratcheting winch bar.

The ratcheting winch bar offers both speed and the ability to place the bar where the individual operator is most comfortable to apply power to the winch. Unlike the solid bar that can be positioned only where the access hole allows, the ratcheting bar affords the user the advantage of positioning the bar at any angle that offers the best power. The ratcheting action also saves valuable time in any type of weather, by allowing the operator to simply install the winch bar and begin ratcheting or winding until the strap becomes tight. On a long trailer with several winch straps, this can be a very valuable tool and a time-saver.


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