How To Replace A Winch Cable? [10 Easy DIY Steps]

If you happen to drive your 4 wheeler on off-road surfaces frequently, then most certainly you know the importance of having a winch.

Compared to any other components of a winch, the cable has to experience tension the most, since it gets exposed to winching action the most during a pull.

That’s the reason, your cable may get damaged over time earlier than any other parts and can cause accidents if not replaced in time.

So, how to replace a winch cable when you need it to be done?

Well, our today’s article will talk about step by step process of replacing a winch, so that you can do it just by yourself without worrying much.

No more delay, let’s just get started!

Why Do You Need To Replace A Winch Cable?

winch cable replacement

No matter which type of winch and cable you use, your cables are always prone to damage.

The physical damage to the cable’s body can occur because of small debris or large amounts of heat generated in the process of winding.

Whichever the cause is, you’ll inevitably have to replace your old winch cable someday.

Besides, if you don’t use your winch every month, the cable tends to get rusty. As a result, you may end up with a completely damaged winch cable.

Now, it wouldn’t be appropriate to go out on long rides with a damaged cable, would it? Having a damaged cable means, if you get stuck and winching is required, this will rather make things worse.

The cable rope can get torn apart at any given moment due to this and you may fall into fatal accidents.

This is why it’s kind of mandatory to replace your winch cable on a yearly basis.

Unless you moderately and routinely use your cable, the damage will occur much quicker. In cases like that, you’ll have to replace your cables quicker too.

10 Steps To Replace A Winch Cable

how to replace winch cable fast

Replacing a winch cable is not that difficult but a bit tricky. This is why you need to be mentally prepared so that you can take the hassle even if it takes quite a long period to be completed.

Now that you are aware of how hard this job can be, you are fully ready to start. Make sure you follow the steps below correctly and replace your winch cable real quick:

#1. Get Prepared First

Safety comes first and it’s more important than all other steps. This is why you’ll be using safety gear such as work gloves and work goggles.

Gloves will heavily contribute to protecting your hand from accidental cuts from sharp edges. Also, the goggles will save your eyes from erratic particles of metal or dust.

Once you are equipped with safety gears, make sure you take the necessary accessories required for cable replacement.

Like, you’ll also have to keep a flat-headed screwdriver prepared for the upcoming steps. In addition to that, other miscellaneous items such as duct tape and pliers also need to be arranged for this job.

#2. Disconnect Power Line Of the Winch

Before you start to re-cable a winch, you have to make sure it doesn’t accidentally turn on when you are working on it.

Accidental startups may cause severe damage to the physical organs of the person handling the machine. This is why you have to disconnect all power sources of the winch.

To do that, just turn off the vehicle engine. Disconnecting the battery is also recommended. However, you may need to reconnect the battery in the upcoming steps.

So, don’t put away the battery permanently. In simple terms, you just have to make sure that your winch doesn’t have any power source connected to it.

#3. Turn The Free Spooling Mode On

In the control panel of the winch, you’ll find an option to turn on the free spooling mode.

Whenever your winch is on the free spooling mode, it can easily be winded or unwinded without any internal resistance from the winch itself.

After making sure this mode is ON in your winch, you’ll notice that you can just use your hand to pull off the winch cable from the winch’s drum.

This will make the process of unspooling the winded cable much easier, just like a small tug of war game.

#4. Unspooling The Old Cable

Now, from the outward direction of the winch, pull the old cable towards yourself. As a result, you’ll see the whole cable coming out of the winch.

Now, this is where your work gloves will come in handy. Unless you use work gloves, you will surely hurt your hands with the rough and rusty old cable.

Even if your old cable is a synthetically made one, never attempt to unspool the cable with bare hands.

Although synthetic cables are the safest ones in the cable market, you have to use protective gloves for handling them too.

On the other hand, if your old cable is manufactured with stainless steel or iron, they’ll surely have spiky barbs or worn-out metal fibers sticking outwards.

Touching those with bare hands will cause permanent damage to your skin. On top of all other benefits, using work gloves will render a slip-less unwinding process.

When you are nearly finished winding the old cable, you’ll see that the end of the cable is attached to the drum by a screw.

At this point, you have to use a screwdriver to uninstall the screw and detach the cable permanently.

#5. Clean The Winch Drum

After you are done uninstalling the old cable, now you have a chance to clean up the whole winch drum. Replacement of the old winch cable is a good window for cleaning up the drum.

Why is that? You will hardly have any other chance of fully cleaning your winch drum because it’s not really possible to clean it up when it is loaded with the cable.

Since you have disassembled it for cable replacement anyway, you might as well utilize the chance to do a thorough cleanup.

For this, use air blowers to fully remove all loose particles from the drum’s surface. This will render you a completely clean winding drum.

As a result, the winding and unwinding action of the winch will be more fluent and stable. Remember, cleaning is also a crucial part of maintenance.

So, don’t ignore this step.

#6. Install The New Cable

Finally, after you are done cleaning, it’s time to insert your replacement cable into the winch cable guide.

Most of the time, the new cable you buy for your winch will be a taped-ended one. In that case, you will have no problem inserting the cable.

If it’s not the case, you’ll have to use some additional tapes to wrap around the loose ends of the cable. Also, if tensioner bars are there in your winch, you’ll have to insert the winch throughout those tensioner bars too.

The best way of doing this is to take note of how the old cable was installed. You can reinsert the new cable just the same way the old cable was set up.

#7. Re-Spooling The Newly Inserted Cable

After you have inserted the new cable throughout its respective guides and tensioner bars, use a screwdriver to seal the end of the cable to the drum (with a screw).

Then, fully tighten the screw to make sure that it won’t accidentally get detached. After you have made sure that the new cable is stably connected, pull it a few times with your hand to make sure it’s sturdy enough.

Now, it’s time to reconnect the power source of the winch and turn it on. By turning the winding mode on, let the winch rewind its new cable.

In the process of slowly reeling the cable in, make sure that the cable does not get randomly overlapped.

In order to do that, you can use your hand to guide the cable so it can nicely re-spool side to side (without randomly overlapping).

When using your hand to assist the cable to re-spool, be careful to not accidentally hurt your fingers.

To keep yourself safe in the whole above process, maintain 1 ft. of distance from the winding winch. It is a safety precaution that you can’t avoid.

#8. Make Sure Everything Went Right

After you have finished re-spooling your new cable, now it’s time to check if the whole process has been completed without fault or not.

If you have installed steel cable as the replacement, you’ll face the problem of extra bending because of accidental overlaps.

Whenever you see accidental overlaps in the winding process, stop the winding immediately and correct the winding sequence.

#9. Testing The Winding Action

If you can check out everything up until now as OK, it’s time to test the winch in its action. At this point, you can use your winch to pull some heavy objects to test its newly installed cable.

Doing test windings will render you confident that it can do its job in time of need. In a real-life scenario, it would be very unfortunate to see the winch failing, right? This is why this testing must be done.

Besides, if you notice any problems in the performance of the winch at this stage, you can easily adjust the winding process again to curb the problem.

#10. You are done!

After completing the above 9 steps, you’re finally done with the cable replacement job.

You should also know that the processes in the topic “How to replace a winch cable?” is the same for synthetic and metal cables.

So, no matter what type of cable you buy, all the action sequences remain the same.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Synthetic Winch Cables Worth The Money?

Of course.

Synthetic cables are the current popular choice for winch users. Since synthetic cables don’t have physical weaknesses to moisture or extra bend, they are a better choice than metal cables.

On the other hand, because synthetic cables are made with polyester-based materials, they are quite easy to manufacture.

In turn, they are very cheap to come by. All these factors, working together, make synthetic cables one of the best choices to be used in a winch.

Is It Possible To Replace Steel Cables With Synthetic Cables?

Yes, in fact, it is recommended.

In order to replace your old steel cable with a new set of synthetic cables, you just have to follow the above-mentioned 8 steps.

But, you have to additionally replace the roller fairlead of the winch with a new roller fairlead that is compatible with a synthetic rope. Other than that, all the procedures remain the same.

Can I Fix A Broken Wire Without Soldering?

Yes, you most definitely can. But, only if your wire is synthetic.

For synthetic wires, even if the cable is torn or broken, you can easily repair it with a glue gun.

To quickly repair the synthetic wire of your winch, prepare your glue gun by heating it up. Then, apply a drop of glue to the torn place of the synthetic wire.

Then, use a pencil nib to fully adjust the glue with the strand of fiber so when it is dried, it creates a stronger bond.

Concluding Words

There you go, you can relax a bit now because you just completed reading the whole guide on how to replace a winch cable.

The whole process is neither too complicated nor that simple, it just needs the right tools, safety gear, focus, concentration, technical skills, and patience overall.

So, to sum it all up, use proper safety precautions in the replacement process and use our instructions as the main guide.

Also, after each sequence of the process is completed, recheck to make sure that it has been done in the correct way.

Anyway, we are confident that, at some point in the future, you’ll surely benefit from this guide. Until that time comes, we bid you the best of luck.

See ya!!