A spare tire winch is a tool used to stow a spare tire up against the undercarriage of a vehicle. The winch itself is typically mounted to the undercarriage in a location with enough clearance for a tire. To hoist a tire up into place, a cable and lift plate are fed out of the winch and through the center of the tire rim. The winch can then lift the tire up and hold it in place. Some trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) come equipped with spare tire winches, though it is also possible to install aftermarket units on other vehicles that have adequate ground clearance.
The spare tire winch is one solution to a common issue that vehicle designers are faced with. Most vehicles are equipped with spare tires for safety and convenience, but these additional wheels can be bulky and take up a substantial amount of space. One solution is the space saver spare, which is a type of tire that is substantially thinner and smaller than the regular wheels on a vehicle. Some vehicle manufacturers also mount spare tires on hinged brackets on the backs of vehicles, but the spare tire winch can allow these bulky extra tires to be moved into a location that is even more out of the way.
There are two main purposes that each spare tire winch can serve. The first is to get the spare tire up against the undercarriage and out of the way. This can be accomplished without a winch, though lifting a heavy tire by hand can be quite difficult. That leads to the second purpose, which is simply to make the act of stowing the tire much easier. The winch is able to greatly reduce the effort required to raise and lower a spare, which can be very important in the case of large truck tires.
Some vehicles come equipped with a spare tire winch from the manufacturer. These winches are typically operated through a hole in the bumper, the rear floor of the vehicle or the bed in the case of a pickup truck. A long rod with a T-handle is typically inserted through the hole and into the winch, after which it can be turned to raise or lower the cable. It is also possible to install aftermarket winches on vehicles that have sufficient ground clearance. Travel trailers and other recreational vehicles (RVs) are often designed with this type of space between the undercarriage and the ground.