Hidden Winch Mount Options for the 5th Gen 4Runner

Hidden Winch Mount Options for the 5th Gen 4Runner

Photo Credit: @lawndartdesign, Isaac Marchionna

Features, benefits, and options for hidden winch mount systems

The ability to mount a winch to the front of any off-road vehicle will add capability and safety when traveling off the beaten path.

There are a few ways to interface a winch with the front end of the 4Runner, the most common is with a full replacement or a low profile bumper. While both options allow for a winch, they can also be heavy and expensive which not everyone wants for their build. Enter the hidden winch mount.

This type of mounting interface allows for the installation of most popular winches and it retains the factory front bumper for an incognito appearance.

As a bonus, because the mount itself is small, it is much lighter than other solutions.

The concept behind the hidden winch mount is to add a winch behind the 4Runner’s front fascia. To do this, the factory aluminum bumper support is removed from the front of the frame, and in its place, a steel winch tray is installed.

This winch mount is bolted to the end caps on the frame, allowing maximum strength as an anchor for the winch. All of this is hidden behind the plastic fascia, except an opening for the fairlead/winch line to come through.

Accessing the winch during operation is done by opening the hood and reaching down from the top. For this reason, a winch with a remote clutch is ideal but not necessary. For wired winch remotes, a hole can be cut into the plastic bumper to fit the plug receptacle.


  • Discrete winch mount
  • Low weight
  • OEM appearance
  • Recovery points (if equipped)
  • Easy installation
  • Won’t require a spring upgrade, although it might be preferable


  • Hard to access winch
  • No additional protection off-road
  • Requires cutting/trimming/drilling of stock front bumper

5th Gen Hidden Winch Mount Options

  1. Hidden Winch Mount Specialists
  2. Budbuilt
  3. SDHQ Off-Road
  4. CBI Off-Road Fabrication (No product information available)
  5. Pelfreybilt (Discontinued)

Let’s jump into the specs and information about each hidden winch mount option

#1 – Hidden Winch Mount Specialists

Sets you back: $490, +$190 for recovery points

Stand-out Features

  • 40 pounds
  • Bare steel finish
  • 3/16″ steel construction
  • Optional recovery points
  • Bolts to the frame (4 bolts)
  • Product page (2010-2013): Check Today’s Price
  • Product page (2014+): Check Price

Both the Hidden Winch Mount Systems (early and late 5th Gen 4Runners) is a simple bolt-on replacement for your behind your valance. As HWMMS puts it “Its a direct replacement for your wimpy factory aluminum bumper”.

Well, it’s not a direct replacement for your whole bumper, it just lives behind your grille.

There is no welding required but it does require minor trimming of the factory bumper cover. You need to cut a hole in your front bumper to accommodate the winch line and mount the fairlead.

This mounting system weighs around 40lbs.

All Winch mounts are shipped bare steel to either paint or powder coated.

You can also add 2 Recovery Points for around $200 extra which is a great option considering our 5th Gen 4Runners do not have any “true” recovery points from the factory. We do have tie down points and they might work in a recovery pinch but don’t expect them to pull you out of every hole. 

This a great option to consider if you are looking to maintain the factory front-end while adding a winch, lightbar and even recovery points.

#2 – Budbuilt

Sets you back: $375, +$30 for light mounts

Stand-out Features

  • 2010-2013 4Runner only
  • 25 pounds
  • Black powder coat finish
  • Steel construction
  • Optional light mounts
  • Clamps to frame (4 U-bolts, 2 drill bolts optional)
  • Non-integrated winches up to 9,500 pounds
  • Product Page and Pricing: Check Price

#3 – SDHQ Off-Road

Photo Credit: MeefZah, T4R.org

Sets you back: $530, +$65 for winch relocation kit

Stand-out Features

  • 2014 – current fitment only
  • Black powder coat finish
  • 33 pounds
  • 1/4″ steel construction
  • Triangulated design for strength
  • CAD designed for Warn Zeon 10-S / 10-S Platinum
    • Zeon winch control relocation kit available
  • Bolts on to frame
  • Templates included to cut the front valence
Photo Credit: MeefZah, T4R.org

#4 – CBI Off-Road Fabrication

Sets you back: $450

No product information was available.

We attempted to contact CBI about this product with no reply. Talking to others that have been able to speak with them regarding this product, they do not promote this product openly and do not have any available information for it at this time. You can still view and order it on their website.

Deciding what works best for you

Photo Credit: @lawndartdesign, Isaac Marchionna

The first question to answer is whether or not the hidden winch mount solution is for you. If you are trying to save weight, money and retain the factory look while adding the capability of a winch, this solution is right for you!

If you decide that something with more capability or “off-road looks” fits your build better, you’ll want to consider a partial or full replacement bumper. For more information on those products, check out our previous article on Front Bumper Options.

If you’ve decided on the hidden winch mount, look through the options to see which one incorporates the features that you find important!

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Frus Trated
Frus Trated
1 year ago

It would be nice if someone said which winch mount was being portrayed on the red/solar octane 4runner at the beginning and end of the article. Just put it in the photo caption! I mean, it’s an article about winch mounts. Why wouldn’t you do this?

Bruce Gilley
Bruce Gilley
5 years ago

I’m looking to add a hidden wench mount to my 2017 TRD Pro 4Runner. However, I live in Virginia where front tags are required. So do any of the hidden wench manufactures offer an option for front license plate mounting?

Raif Zakhem
Raif Zakhem
4 years ago
Reply to  Bruce Gilley

Hey Bruce. What hidden winch mount did you go for? I was looking at getting the warm zeon 10 S platinum and was looking for good mounts. I still like the look of the factory bumper.

4 years ago
Reply to  Raif Zakhem

anyone have any input on their experience with warn zeon line of winches, having doubts on the reliability of the wireless remote? thinking of having one mounted on a warn bumper for my 2019 off road.

3 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Joe, I’ve had a warn zeon platinum winch on my tacoma pro for 3 years with the cordless remote. I also doubted the remote, since I had previously only owned winches with a plug in cord remote, so I ordered 2 remotes just in case it failed. I wish I wouldn’t have, because it’s been rock solid and I use it a bunch every winter. Selling my 2018 tacoma pro and getting a 4 runner if you know of any buyers, 44,000 miles. White, automatic.

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