• Welcome to the new NAXJA Forum! If your password does not work, please use "Forgot your password?" link on the log-in page. Please feel free to reach out to [email protected] if we can provide any assistance.

how to improve old style warn winch mount


NAXJA Forum User
I’ve got the 1997 version of the Warn front bumper winch mount, and back then it was a lot less beefy than the one they sell today. The way it ties into the frame rail is kind of weird too, as it uses a big-U loop of metal to go around the plastic air dam under the front bumper, instead of connecting in a straight line to the frame rail (or frame rail front extension, or whatever you call it). In the picture below, the inner bolt head that’s circled is where the frame rail is.


Well, to my surprise, this worked well enough for 10 years of fairly light service (but still a few really good stucks), but one day this past summer I got stuck real good and the thing started to come loose. It popped out the bumper bolt as shown in the picture below, and the right side of the winch carrier separated from the body of the jeep by as much as 3-4 inches while it was under load. It really looked like the whole thing was going to tear off.


To complicate the issue a little bit, earlier that same day I used a hi-lift jack on the front right side of the winch carrier for the first time. I had purposely never before used the front bumper as a jack point, because the U-connector looked especially weak for an upward force as opposed to the winch’s horizontal force. However, on that day I apparently had an attack of CRS or Alzheimer’s or something, because I agreed to a buddy’s suggestion to use the hi-lift to quickly clear a different stuck situation instead of getting out the winch. I know the bolt didn’t pop out then, because that was a distinct and thrilling event in the later winching drama, but I hadn’t thought to examine the attachment points for possible damage after using the hi-lift. So. It might have been weakened by the hi-lift before the winch tore the bolt out.

So, what’s the best way to fix this and make it sturdier? And, 2nd question, is there any way to make it strong enough to be able to use the bumper as a jack point for the high lift, or is that just a no-no all around?

By the way, I don’t have any welding or fabricating capacity myself, so whatever I come up with, it needs to be simple enough to explain to a shop and easy enough that they won’t screw it up and won’t charge me too much.
they probably designed this product to be an easy bolt on project without affecting the crumple zones.

Most of the really stout winch bumpers have a single plate that mounts straight back and along the unibody frame rails.

Here is how my protofab winch bumper was reinforced:
I like that. Looks like that's on the outside of the frame rail - unfortunately, the old warn bumper doesn't have any heft there, just those flimsy brushguard extensions. To do the equivalent, I would need to come off the inside of the rails, which, as your picture shows, I can't do because the steering is there on the left side. So I have to come off the bottom.

I did think that I might do the right side different from the left, since the inside rail is clear and lines up nicely with the side and bottom of the big metal trough where my winch is mounted. I could come off both the side and bottom with an L-shaped piece of steel. That might give enough strength to use the hi-lift over there, if not on the left side.
I find it hard to believe that, that is how that thing mounts!

Is that the only attachment points for the winchmount?
HaleYes said:
I find it hard to believe that, that is how that thing mounts!

Is that the only attachment points for the winchmount?

Yes, other than the two bolts into the bumper, one of which I tore out. Actually I guess I'm lucky the whole bumper didn't pop off, I don't think they are all that securely attached.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had this done by a shop in the very first week after I bought the jeep, and I didn't know the first thing about what was required. I ordered the Warn kit from them and had them install it, along with a trailer hitch. It was a fairly reputable 4x4 shop here in Memphis (Sweet's), but maybe not the best, and I guess they could have done non-standard work. Still, it looks like a kit, and there aren't any unused holes like they left off something.

I wonder if I could just take off the stock front bumper, and use whatever attachment points it uses? Maybe have some bracing connect higher on the winch carrier from these points, in addition to a piece on each side underneath to the frame rail.
My suggestion is to get a real winch bumper.:D


There are others out there as well. I run a JCR and couldn't be happier.
Naw, I need to make this work, I got plenty of other things to spend the $500-1000 on. Besides, I've spent a lot of time customizing this one. The old ones, like mine, had very squarish side brush guards, compared to the new "swept-back" look that most of them have today. Well, I'm proud to say that mine are now bent backwards pretty good from original, after years of carefully hitting trees and stumps and other objects hiding in the brush on the side of the trail. :)