Use a Winch Mounting Plate to Mount Your Winch To Anything

Before mounting your winch, you should know a few things about how to mount it. We'll talk about foot-down vs. foot-forward orientation, hardware, and list some of the common dimensions and hardware that are used in mounting winches. We also picked out a few "universal" winch mount plates that can be a platform for a winch bumper or be bolted or welded wherever you need your winch.
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If you know what you're looking for and you just need a winch mounting plate check out Warn's foot-forward winch plate and their foot-down winch plate.

The first thing you need to know about your winch is whether it should be mounted foot-down or foot-forward. Why? Mounting your winch wrong can totally destroy it. It has to do with how the mounting bolts are loaded. Any winch will come in one of the following configurations:

  1. Foot-down only
  2. Foot-forward only
  3. Foot-down or foot-forward

This has consequences for how you mount your winch and what bumper or winch mounting plate you choose. If you already have a bumper, then you need to buy a winch that matches its winch mounting configuration. If you already have a winch, then you need to buy a bumper or mounting plate that matches the winch's mounting configuration. Of course, if you buy a foot-down/foot-forward winch, you don't need to worry about this.

In a foot-forward configuration, the load is taken against the winch's forward mounting plate. There might be some small shear loads on the bolts when winch pulls aren't straight, but your winch primarily strains against the winch mounting plate, not the winch mounting hardware.

Why winch mounting orientation is important:

  • For the motor and solenoid box to drain correctly of water
  • Strength and preventing winch housing stress
  • Lubrication

In contrast, in a foot-down configuration, the winch mounting hardware has to deal with large single shear forces. Winch manufacturers like Warn obviously know what they're doing, so foot-down winches are designed correctly with appropriately-sized hardware.

However, if you don't install your winch correctly, it would be easy to shear off your winch mounting hardware and break your winch housing. You can buy new housings from Warn, but speaking from experience, its often cheaper to just hunt for a used winch to swap parts over.

Also, some winches, like the Warn 8274, need to be mounted foot-down for lubrication. Other winches may need to be mounted in a certain configuration so they can drain water from rain, puddles, and water crossings.

Really, the biggest problems you'll have come from when you want to mount a feet-forward only winch in a feet-down configuration. Usually people want to do this because of some kind of fitment issue. But you shouldn't do this. Foot-forward hardware and winch feet can be smaller and weaker since they don't need to take much in the way of shear loads. They are mostly loaded in compression with much of the load being taken up by the winch mounting plate.

Foot-down feet and hardware need to be able to withstand the massive shearing forces they'll see when winching. Foot-forward winches are not designed for this.


Properly Mounting Your Winch

If a winch mount bolt comes loose, it will start the destruction of your winch. Loose bolts shear. This is particularly important for foot-down winches.

A properly torqued bolt clamps two or more things together. In our case the winch mount plate is clamped to the winch by the bolts. If one bolt comes loose, we lose the clamping force from one full bolt.

Because bolt holes are usually a little oversized for manufacturing tolerances and to make it easier to put our junk together, the winch will start moving around in the "tight" bolt holes due to the reduced clamping force. This jiggling around starts to loosen the other bolts, which will also start to shear. If the bolts are loose and you put a load on the winch, it's easy to see that twisting forces could be introduces that'll eventually crack the winch housing or feet somewhere.

How do you prevent this?

It's easy. After you've figured out whether you need to be foot-forward or foot-down, use a little Loc-Tite on your hardware and a torque wrench to tighten your winch mounting bolts.

Winch Mount Hardware Torque Values
3/8"-16 33 foot-pounds
7/16"-14 54 foot-pounds
M10-1.5 34 foot-pounds

Manufacturers use standard torque ratings for SAE Grade 5 standard bolts and Grade 8.8 metric bolts. However, we encourage you to check your manual and make sure your winch's manufacturer doesn't recommend another value.

Don't overtorque winch mounting bolts. Most winch mount feet are threaded aluminum (very few have steel) and will strip very easily. Stripping threads makes you feel like a moron when you realize that you just messed up your $1000 winch because you were too lazy to grab a torque wrench. If you do strip your threads, use Helicoil to repair them and buy a torque wrench like you should have in the first place.

Universal Winch Mounting Plates

These mounting plates are fine for mounting most winches regardless of brand, as long as the orientation is correct and they have the standard 10" x 4.5" mounting pattern. We have a variety of plates here that should fit a wide range of needs. Frankly, universal winch mounting plates aren't too complicated and there aren't a lot out there.

If you can't find what you need, maybe take a look at either plates that are specific to your model of 4x4 or look at Jeep plates. There are many, many Jeep model-specific winch plates that could be tweaked to fit other 4x4s. Jeep plates are good to work with because they're made to fit between the front framerails, so they don't need a bunch of fancy cuts or bends. You'll have some fab work to do, but not as much as building a complete plate.

Warn 11078 Universal Foot Forward Winch Mount Plate

Warn 11078 Universal Foot Forward Winch Mount Plate
This is one of the few foot-forward winch mounting plates out there.
Warn 11078 Mounting Plate Specs
Foot position Foot-forward
Fairlead mount Yes
Fairlead hole distance 10” on center
Winch mount pattern 10” x 4.5”
Overall size 27.5" X 8.5" x 7"
Finish Black Powdercoat
Weight 25 lbs

This is Warn's standard universal foot-forward mount plate. If you want something little fancier, take a look at the Warn 87675. It has 4 holes in front for forward foot mounting, like on 8274s and more foot-down holes to accommodate other winches. It has standard 10" on center fairlead mount, and the four forward mount holes are 10" x 4.5". It can be bolted or welded to any flat surface and would make a good start to a winch bumper or a homemade receiver bumper. It is powdercoated black.

Warn lists it as fitting the Warn M12, 9.5xp, XD9, M8274-50, M8, VR8, and M6 winches. It should fit other manufacturers' foot-forward winches, but may require some drilling if the bottom holes don't line up.

Warn 13942 Universal Foot Down Winch Mount Kit

Warn 13942 Universal Foot Down Winch Mount Kit
This foot-down winch mounting plate also includes a solenoid bracket and will fit any foot-down winch.
Warn 13942 Mounting Plate Specs
Foot position Foot-down
Fairlead mount Yes
Fairlead hole distance 10” on center
Winch mount pattern 10” x 4.5”
Finish Black Powdercoat
Weight 22 lbs

This is Warn's standard universal foot-down mounting plate. It has four bottom holes on a 10" x 4.5" pattern and fairlead holes that are 10" apart on center, so it'll fit just about any foot-down 4x4 winch. You can bolt or weld this Warn winch plate to any flat surface. It's powdercoated black. Warn lists it as fitting the Warn PowerPlant HP/HD, Endurance 12.0, 9.5cti, 9.5xp, XD9i, XD9, VR8, M8 and M6 winches, but like we mentioned, it has universal dimensions.

It also includes hardware and a solenoid mounting bracket.

Warn 63885 Universal Foot Down Winch Mount for Trailers

Warn Universal Foot Down Winch Mount for Trailers
Not exaaaactly a 4x4 mount - but your might want it for your trailer queen's chariot. Includes a filler plate to fit a roller fairlead for a smaller utility winch.
Warn 63885 Mounting Plate Specs
Foot position Foot-down
Fairlead mount Yes
Fairlead hole distance 10” on center
Winch mount pattern 10” x 4.5”
Finish Black Powdercoat
Weight 23 lbs

Alright, so this one isn't really for 4x4s, but we threw it in for completeness. This is the last of Warn's universal winch plates, made to fit trailers. You can see that the sides on this mount angle inwards so that you can easily weld or bolt it to a trailer's angled tongue rails. Like the other universal plates, it has a 10" x 4.5" mounting pattern for mounting foot-down winches. The fairlead holes are 10" apart on center but it also includes a patch plate that you can use to work with a smaller utility winch roller fairlead.

Driver Universal Foot Down Winch Mounting Bracket

Universal Foot Down Winch Mounting Bracket by Driver
This is a tame, light winch mount plate that is has a black epoxy finish. Fits foot-down winches.
Driver Winch Mounting Plate Specs
Foot position Foot-down
Winch capacity 17,000 lbs
Fairlead mount Yes
Fairlead hole distance 10” on center
Winch mount pattern 10” x 4.5”
Overall size 22 7/8" x 7 1/8" x 3 7/8"
Mouth dimensions 8 13/16" x 1 5/8"
Finish Black Epoxy
Weight 13.2 lbs

The Driver winch mounting plate is good for foot-down winches and includes a spot for your hawse or roller fairlead. It has a standard winch mount pattern and a standard fairlead mount. It's 22 7/8" wide and 7 1/8" deep and will bolt down on flat areas and between some framerails. It's rated for winches from 8,000 to 17,000 lbs. It has two sets of outer bolt holes for mounting: one is 15.75" x 4.5" and the other is 19.75" x 4.5".

36" Foot Down Winch Mount Plate by GoPlus

36" Wide Foot Down Winch Mount Plate by GoPlus
Holy winch plate, Batman! This thing has a ton of holes and is super wide at 36" so it can span wide frames and trailer stringers.
Goplus Winch Mounting Plate Specs
Foot position Foot-down
Winch capacity 13,000 lbs
Fairlead mount Yes
Fairlead hole distance 10” on center
Winch mount pattern 10” x 4.5”
Overall size 36.2" x 6.9" x 4.7"
Finish Black Powdercoat
Weight 20.3 lbs

The GoPlus winch mount plate is a great start to mounting your winch. Now, of course, you can just bolt or weld it onto any flat area with the myriad of pre-drilled holes. But it's also a good starting place if you're making your own bumper and want a decent platform to build off of. It is powdercoated black (although painted would be better for fab work). It will only mount foot-down winches. It has the standard 10" x 4.5" winch mounting pattern. There is also a smaller pattern for smaller winches, but we're not sure what the dimensions are.

It'll support winches from 8,000 to 13,000 lbs and should be able to span long distances between 4x4 frame rails and trailer frame stringers with its 36" width.

Rugged Ridge Foot Down Raised Winch Plate

Rugged Ridge Foot Down Raised Winch Plate
Okay, so this isn't technically "universal". It's for a Jeep. But it is raised, made with 1/4" steel, and can help you span a distance.
Rugged Ridge Winch Mounting Plate Specs
Foot position Foot-down
Fairlead mount Yes
Fairlead hole distance 10” on center
Winch mount pattern 10” x 4.5”
Overall size 33.5” wide
Finish Black Powdercoat
Weight 25 lbs

Okay, so this is actually a winch mount for Jeeps. But we figured it could come in handy for anyone who needs their winch to be mounted a little higher. It's supposed to be for Jeep LJs, YJs, and TJs that have a tube bumper. The overall width is 33.5" and it should be quite strong due to the boxing provided by the raised section. Plus it's a 1/4" thick. We don't like all the Rugged Ridge stuff, but this is a great heavy duty mount! It is for foot-down winches only that have a 10" x 4.5" mounting pattern. The fairlead mount is a standard 10" on center. It's powdercoated black, so it should last way longer than anything that's painted.

Warn 87675 Foot Forward Winch Mounting Plate

Warn 87675 Foot Forward Winch Mounting Plate
Warn says this only fits the 8274, but we think it could be made to work with some other winches with a little drilling and maybe some fab work.
Foot position Foot-forward
Fairlead mount Yes
Fairlead hole distance 10” on center
Winch mount pattern 10” x 4.5”
Finish Black Powdercoat

This is a foot-forward winch mount plate. We should point out two important things about this bracket. First, it's designed to work with the famous Warn 8274-50 foot-forward winch. Second, it's designed for Jeep JKs with a Warn bumper. However, it would make a nice, heavy starting point for an 8274 bracket for another 4x4. It's powdercoated black, has a 10" x 4.5" pattern to accept the 8274 and will mount a fairlead.

Winch Mount Plate Dimensions

Most winches mount with 4 bolts with a 10" x 4.5" bolt pattern on the forward or bottom face. Some winches use 6 bolts, especially if they're for larger vehicles. 6 hole winch mounts will have a "primary" face with 4 mounting holes and a secondary face with 2 mounting holes.

Winch mounting hardware for 4x4s is usually 3/8"-16, 7/16"-14, or M10-1.5. Some winches actually mix metric and standard hardware, so watch out so you don't wreck your aluminum threads.