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A winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull or let out chain or rope in order to adjust tension between two ends. Winches are used to pull immobile objects that are too heavy or large to move by hand without assistance. The use of a winch reduces the risk of one's vehicle being stuck while pulling out another vehicle using only chain. There are many different styles and sizes. Winches are able to handle thousands of pounds of tension and are a valuable tool when heavy equipment is being moved. The basic features of a winch, are a spool and a crank which is driven by a handle or a small motor for heavy applications. Some heavy duty electric winches that use a motor will also incorporate gears which are what allows the winch to handle thousands of pounds of tension. Winches are kept under high amounts of tension and may use a solenoid brake, mechanical brake, or a ratchet and pawl device that prevents the chain or cable from unwinding itself. Winches are commonly found on boats, vehicles, and trailers where heavy boats or vehicles can easily be pulled onto the trailer without having to drive one's vehicle onto the trailer, which can be dangerous. Winches are very powerful, and it is essential that they are properly secured to the surface in which they are mounted. For this reason, winches are normally mounted to the bumper of a vehicle, or the frame of a trailer, where the metal is less prone to weakness due to the pressure of the tension. Many winches can pull more weight than the object they are attached to, it is common to attach one's vehicle or trailer to an immobile object such as a tree in order to prevent slippage due to tension. While operating a winch that is under tension, it is important to keep a safe distance in order to prevent injuries due to an occasion where the rope or chain becomes disengaged.

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