FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – HF Apex Winch – How-To & Review

We try to keep up with the never ending winch design evolution in that we want to know what works with our winch mounts. The answer is ‘just about all of them’ but some just fit different than others, have different layouts, etc.
We get a lot of questions about Harbor Freight winches. I won’t get in to the debate about their quality but to say this. I know a lot of folks who use them and have done so very successfully. They have a 90 day warranty but are inexpensive. We have quite a few customers who run them in our winch mounts on various models.
One of the newest is the Apex with a semi integrated control box.
Here is a great write up and review from a customer of ours, Terry Pelt from Utah. Not just about the winch but our winch mount as well.
He mounted an Apex in one of our FJ Mounts, while roomy it is the smallest winch tub of our lineup but generally accepts most all winches, it’s the height above the winch in regards to the hood release brace that can get tight or interfere. Bottom line, it fits but I’ll let Terry lay it out in detail for you:

This is for the Harbor Freight Badlands APEX 12K winch.
1): If this winch is being installed and planned to be used on a regular basis, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND relocating the control box from the top of the winch to somewhere in the engine compartment. The clearance and limited access to the remote plug-in and the Wi-Fi control switch is ULTRA and SUPERTIGHT! Small user hands are beneficial if the control is left in the OEM location.

If relocating, DO NOT be tempted to just move the control box above the winch and in front of the radiator on your FJ – the box is too large and will greatly limit needed air flow to the radiator cooling fins. (Personally, I don’t plan on using my winch for more than flipping a Jeep back onto its wheels, or only in a dire self-recovery situation).

2): If you are going to leave the control box in the OEM location, it MUST be removed from the winch to place the winch body into the mounting tub, and ONLY AFTER trimming the center bracket that sticks out above center of the winch (as seen in my photos [and highlighted with circles and arrows in yellow]). After the winch body is mounted, the control box can carefully be wiggled under the newly trimmed center bracket to be re-installed.

3): The A/C line not only needs to be CAREFULLY and slightly bent/repositioned, but it will need a spacer placed between the mounting
bracket and plastic keeper that your instructions suggest and the A/C line (I deleted the plastic keeper and used a stainless steel strap bracket).

The A/C line also needs to be slightly elevated over the winch and behind the control box, and under the newly trimmed center bracket; it’s a bit ofa tight squeeze, but it can be done.

I finished my US Off Road mount (after sanding it with 600 grit and wiping it down several times with lacquer thinner) with 3 coats of Rust-Oleum Rusty Metal Primer (but I had no rust…..), followed by 3 coats of Rust-Oleum Custom Premium Lacquer Paint (Silver Gray color).

Fitment of your product was awesome; I really appreciated the improvements you have made to the original design (after watching some installation videos and seeing a couple of older US Off Road tubs in person).

Packaging for shipment was excellent. Even though the box had a large gash in the top, the tub was unharmed. I’m not sure how FedEx managed to make the shipping label bar code unreadable, but glad they finally caught it, fixed it, and got it delivered with only minimal delay.

Again, I suggest and HIGHLY RECOMMEND that if someone is planning to use this APEX winch allot, it is worth the time to relocate the control box.

Vehicle: 2012 FJ, 3” Old Man Emu lift, 285/70-17 tires, Ricochet Offroad skid plates (complete undercarriage armor), Tandem Offroad rock slides, Badlands APEX 12K winch… and of course a U.S. Off Road Winch Mount.

Also notice how well our mount works with the Ricochet skid plate.

And of course,  when you are ready to purchase a winch mount for your FJ or Tacoma, go here:


FJ Winch Mount

FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – HF Apex Winch

Danilo from New York sends us photos of his 2010 FJ Cruiser Trail Teams with one of our winch mounts installed.
He has also installed the following mods:
2inch lift Fox 2.5 trd pro on Eibach springs
285/75R16 tires
Full RCI skids
Apex 12000 winch
3/8 Masterpull Synthetic line
ARB compressor/ 4 ways air system by Speedflate
Pelican storage on stock rack
FJ Cruiser Winch Mount

FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – Warn VR EVO

Harold from Cali sends us photos of his 2014 FJ Cruiser along with one of our winch mounts along with a Warn VR EVO winch and Van Beest shackles. Turned out great!

“Thank you very much for your work, this is exactly what I needed. I’m very happy with your product. Merry Christmas from California. Here’s a few photos from my installation.”

FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – Smittybilt – Jurassic Park!

I receive quite a few photos from customers but some get your attention more than others. Josh from Canada sends us some photos of his FJ Cruiser with one of our winch mounts powder coated black along with some Van Beest shackles coated red. We also sent him some of our popular Sirius Pro Series lights that mount right up on the light tabs included in our mount.
Obviously, what really sets off Josh’s FJ is the the Jurassic Park scheme along with the following equipment list:
Bumper/bumper lights: US Off Road
Under armor: RCI full package
Suspension:  OEM Heavy Duty Lift Kit 2.5″  
Wheel setup:  ProComp Wheels 16″x8″ (x5).  Rubber: BF Goodrich KO2 (winter) 33″ and Mud tires 33″ general tire (Summer)
Rock sliders: Line-x’d Allpro sliders
Roof Rack: Prinsu 
Winch: Smittybilt (98510 X2O Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch – 10000 lb. Load Capacity)
Light bar: KC Hilites GRAVITY LED PRO6 (50″ Universal)
Roof rack storage: Gun cases/Rotopax gas container
Josh really works his FJ and we really dig it! 

FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – Mean Mother Winch – Sirius Pro LED Lights

Bill from Ohio sends us photos of his FJ Cruiser with our winch mount along with a Mean Mother 9500 lb winch, a couple of Van Beest shackles and Sirius Pro LED driving lights. We powder coated the winch and shackles black for him as well. Bill says “Love the winch. It looks awesome.” and we agree! 

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FJ Winch Mount - Mean Mother Winch

2007 FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – Mean Mother Winch

Dan from Florida sends us some photos of his 2007 FJ Cruiser with our powder coated winch mount along with a Mean Mother 9500lb winch with wireless controls and Van Beest shackles.
Dan writes: “Thanks for the product and excellent service. I got the bumper and winch installed today. It went together very easily and I love the look.”
His FJ is a 6 speed along with TRD Pro Wheels, 285/70/17 BFG KO2 tires, Bilstein 5100 shocks, URD shifter, TRD exhaust with a Gobi Rack on the way.
We appreciate the kind words and Dan’s business!   Buy yours here:

FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – Warn VR Winch

Mark from Georgia sends sends us photos of his FJ Cruiser with our winch mount and Warn VR recovery winch.

“VERY happy with the outcome! … I’ve been modding cars and SUV’s for about 20 years. Probably one of the easiest installs out of anything I’ve ever done. It fit PERFECT, out of the box!”

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FJ Cruiser Winch Mount – Corey From Louisiana

Corey from Louisiana sends us some photos of his FJ Cruiser with one of our winch mounts. Corey won this winch mount for his FJ at our Poker Run at the 2015 Jamboree with a killer hand of aces and 10s.. He added a Smittybilt 9500 winch with synthetic rope and a Factor55 Splicer from Steve Springs. He added some lights and grille from Ridgid to top it all off.

Be sure to buy yours here:



We have quite a few customers in the Middle East and one of them is Satish from Dubai who sends us a few photos of his FJ Cruiser on the dunes of his home country. He purchased our FJ winch mount, Engo winch combination package back in 2016 and goes on to say: “Both beautifully performing till date with no issues, very happy. The winch has gone through some extreme use with as much as 15 recoveries in one single trip over a technical set of dunes and still works great.”


Glad to hear it and always happy to hear from our customers around the world!

FJ Winch Mount – Smittybilt XRC 9500 Winch


This was just sent to by one of our customers, Bob from California, that purchased one of our FJ winch mount back in 2014 and installed a Smittybilt XRC9500 winch. While we went to 1″ wide shackle mounts several years ago the design remains pretty much the same. I asked Bob how he liked it 4 years later and he stated “Bumper fits great! Haven’t had to use the winch yet. Maybe someday the FJ will get stuck.” 


2012 FJ Cruiser -Winch Mount – Warn Zeon Platinum 10S

Arnie from Chicago bought one of our powder coated winch mounts for his 2012 FJ Cruiser along with a top of the line Warn Zeon Platinum 10s winch and Van Beest shackle combo package. On his way to Austin he brought his FJ to us so we could install it all! The Platinum is a huge symmetrical winch but our mount still has room for lights when he’s ready and is a super slick setup. Nice rig and a super guy!

Please be aware that you WILL need to do some minor trimming of a bracket and a cross brace above the winch and move the A/C line back an inch or so as covered in the install docs. You will likely need to elongate the mounting holes in the winch tub about 1-16″ to 1/8″ of inch forward to fit this VERY large winch in the tub and scoot it forward to clear the back of the tub.

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Installation Videos and Documentation:



2014 FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – Mean Mother 12,000 Winch

Mike from California sends us some great pics of his 2014 FJ Cruiser sporting our winch mount bumper along with one of the great Mean Mother Edge 12000 lb winch and Van Beest shackles. Mount and shackles are both coated black.

Mike says “Turned out GREAT!”. We agree.

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FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – Barricade Winch

John in Arizona sends us a photo of his FJ with one of winch mounts along with some Van Beest shackles then added a Barricade winch with orange rope to match his rig.

He goes on to say: “This is my 2013 FJ Cruiser. Love your product; it is exactly the weight and neat install that I was looking for. Your powder coating finish is excellent; I am very happy….”

Turned out very nice!

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FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – Smittybilt Winch

David from California sends us some photos of his very cool camo version of our winch bumper along with a Smittybilt winch on his FJ Cruiser.

“For the paint I used two color browns of textured paint, used spray adhesive to hold “actual” oak leaves in place and sprayed ‘bisque’ textured paint over the whole mess. Pulled the leaves before the glue set completely and cleaned up with some solvent. (I worked in ornamental iron for almost twenty years, so I’ve done a variety of finishes). It was luck that bisque color matched the Toyota Sand color so well.”

“I must add, as a fabricator, your product is very nicely fabricated. I’m an electrician now, but during those years I built everything from scratch including roll cage.”

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2008 FJ Cruiser Trail Teams – Winch Mount – Mean Mother 9500

Victor from California sends us photos of his 2008 Trail Teams FJ with our winch mount along with a Mean Mother 9500 recovery winch and Sirius Pro Series lights. He optioned to have the mount and Van Beest shackles coated in our Teflon black powder coat for a long lasting finish. Turned out great!

Buy yours here: