Foot Forward Vs. Foot Down Winch Mounts
What are foot forward and foot down?
You should know this before you mount your winch.
We'll take a look at the difference between the two and why it's so important to know how your winch mounts.
Why do you need to know this?
In your winch manual, manufacturers will always specify how you can
mount your winch. Some winches are designed to be mounted only in one
What happens when you mount your winch the wrong way?
- You can crack the winch case or otherwise damage your winch.
- Some winches won't drain water if they aren't waterproof.
- Some winches can't properly self-lube in the wrong position.
Should I mount my winch foot forward or down?
Check your owner's manual or our winch database.
4 Mounting Possibilities
Every winch that you buy will have one of four mounting configurations:
- Foot down
- Foot forward
- Foot forward OR foot down
- Foot forward AND foot down
What's the biggest difference?
It's simply where the 4 main mounting holes end up:
If the 4 main mounting holes are on bottom, your winch is foot down.
If the 4 main mounting holes are facing forward, your winch is foot forward.
One of the best examples of foot-forward-only mounting is the Warn 8274. When you're mounting in a foot forward configuration, the winch will press up against a mounting plate that takes all the force from winching.
The 8274 can only be mounted foot forward, partly due to the casing and how the motor is positioned.
With a foot forward winch, your roller fairlead or hawse bolts will line up with the lower mounting holes in the winch.
Foot forward winches can be slightly trickier to mount than foot down winches, only because you have to hold the winch in place to get the bolts started.
Many installs will require you to install the winch into your winch bumper off your rig, and then install the bumper.
In a foot down configuration, the winch bolts on to a winch mount that's parallel to the ground.
The most important element in this setup is the bolts!
Your mounting bolts must be correctly torqued to provide the correct clamping pressure that'll keep your winch from moving around.
Winch bolts in this configuration experience shearing forces - if they are loose, they'll either:
- Break off
- Allow the winch case to twist and possibly crack
Notice that in a foot down configuration, there are no holes in the winch available for bolting down your fairlead. This job is taken on by the mounting plate or winch bumper.
These winches are usually a little easier to mount than a foot forward winch.
However, if installing in a winch bumper, make sure you install the fairlead first to ensure you have access to its mounting hardware.
Foot Forward OR Foot Down
Obviously, whatever position you choose will have the caveats of that particular position.
Foot Forward AND Foot Down
Technically, this is really foot forward with extra mounting. Large winches like the Warn M15000 will use 6 mounting bolts.
4 bolts are used at the foot forward mounting position and 2 are used in the foot down position.
These winches cannot be mounted foot down only! The bolts and casing can't take the forces of serious winching!
Last updated: Feb 2019