A winch is a mechanism that is used to lift or tow heavy items. It consists of a spool or drum, heavy-duty wire and a hook (like those) used by a tow truck. 3 popular types of winches are: hydraulic winches, that use a hydraulic pump and motorelectric winches, that are battery powered and manual winches that are powered by a hand crank. Because winches are such hard working mechanisms, you may need to replace things like the pulley block, winch stand or winch cables. You can also buy a utility winch kit that includes everything you need to get started.