Jeep Wrangler: Warn x8000i Winch Install

1997 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
1997 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

Follow along as we install Warn’s X8000i winch on this 1997 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. We used Warn’s TJ mount plate to mate the two together. This is a fairly easy job that can be tackeled in the garage with regular tools. Please note: This is a simple documentation and not a substitute for the manufacturer’s directions. This shows other Wrangler owners what they can expect installing a winch on their vehicles. As with any install, use extreme caution and always read the directions.

Tow hook removed in preparation for the Warn Winch install.

Step 1: Remove the factory tow hooks. Set them aside. Make sure you keep the torex bolts as they will be used to mount new tow hooks back to the front bumper. The factory Mopar tow hooks will not work for winch install as they are offset and will not fit between the winch and the factory fog lights. If you do not have the factory fog lights, then the tow hooks will work fine, you will just have to switch sides with the tow hooks.


Step 2: Remove the anti-sway bar cover.

Step 2: Remove the anti-sway bar cover. This is done by removing two bolts on either side of cover. The bolts attach into the frame on what would be just behind the fog lights in the picture above. You may put the bolts back into the holes after removing the cover. You may also want to save this cover in case you ever remove the winch. If not, this would leave the anti-sway bar and several brake lines exposed.


remove the front bolts that hold down the front anti-sway bar

Step 3: After removing the cover above, the next step is to remove the front bolts that hold down the front anti-sway bar. Make sure you set these bolts aside as they will be reused.


 unbox the winch

Step 4: This step is to unbox the winch and get all the parts and pieces situated. At this point you DO NOT want to undue the rubber band holding the winch cable to the drum. Set the instructions aside, find the bolt packet that comes with it.


Mount the roller fairlead to the winch plate.

Step 5: Mount the roller fairlead to the winch mount using the bolts provided with the winch kit.


Test fit the winch to the mounting plate.

Step 6: Test fit the winch on the mounting plate to make sure all the holes line up and to get a feel for how it fits together.


Tighten the winch down to the mounting plate.

Step 7: After you are happy with the fit, fit the nuts into the winch slots around the base. The nuts will slide into the holes. The bolts will then go up from under the base into the nuts to tighten the winch down.


Test fit the plate and winch to the Jeep.

Step 8: Test fit the whole assembly (winch mount and winch) to the Jeep. Make sure all the holes line up, etc. You will notice the back two holes will need to be shimmed as they sit just a little lower than the bumper.


Run the cables through the firewall.

Step 9: The next step is to cover sections of the two cables (positive / negative) with wire loom to protect it from fraying and being cut while running it under / through the grille. Note the red cable with the wire loom over it. Run the wires away from heat sources and the radiator.


Tighten the rear bolts holding the winch in place.

Step 10: Tighten down the rear bolts holding the winch plate. Note: these will have to be shimmed with washers that come with the mounting plate. You will use the bolts that you took out in step 3. With the salt on the roads in the North East, we chose to put some grease on them before tightening them.


Mount the new tow hooks to the winch mount.

Step 11: Now you will want to put some grease on your tow hook bolts and mount the NEW tow hooks through the winch plate into the bumper / frame. This is where your step could vary. If you don’t have factory fog lights, then you will have to swap your tow hooks to the opposite side and mount them. the usual thing Wrangler owners do is buy an after market set of cheap tow hooks to use. We used heavy duty 10,000lb models. They run about $10.00 each at any local auto parts store.


Pull the cable through and hook up the hook.

Step 12: The next thing we did was to cut the rubber band holding the cable to the drum. Caution: Once the rubber band is cut, the cable will unravel a little with some force. Use extreme caution and wear a pair of leather gloves when reaching towards the drum to put the cable through the roller fairlead. Once through, get the hook and undo the cotter pin. Put the cable through and force the cotter pin back in. Make sure you bend the cotter pin ends well.


Hook up the positive and negatives to the battery.

Step 13: The next step is to hook up the positive and negative ends of the winch cables. If you have an Optima battery with side posts, DO NOT mount the winch cables to the side posts. The side posts are connected to the top posts by a thin piece of metal and are not rated for heavy loads the winch can demand.


Zip tie wires together to keep them in place.

Step 14: One of the few final steps is to clean up the install with some zip ties. Make sure the wires are ran together and zip them together. This will keep them in place and out of harms way.


Congrats! You are done...almost.

Step 15: Congratulations, you are all done…almost.

Respool the winch cable under load.

Step 16: (The final one) Before you go out and get yourself stuck, you have to seat the winch cable. At the factory, the winch cable is loosely wrapped around the drum. If you winch under load with out first un-spooling it and re-spooling it under load, the cable could tighten up and damage the wraps underneath it. We  hooked the cable to a rear receiver clevis on the Cherokee and pulled the TJ to it. The TJ was in neutral, this provides ample enough load to spool the cable in tightly.


NOTE: A winch is a useful tool to extract a stuck vehicle, but can also be very dangerous. Please read your winch owners manual about how to safely and correctly operate your winch.