Buying a Winch Power Cable: Key Do’s and Don’ts
Power winches are a godsend for any serious off-road enthusiast, but winches are useless without the power winch cable. Made of thick gauge wire, the power winch cables supply power from the battery to the winch motor. Power winch cables are often included with power winch kits, although you can also purchase them separately.
Whether it is to replace a worn cable or as a backup, you can find power winch cables in most outdoor shops and specialty auto parts stores. In this guide, we will share some essential do's and don'ts in buying these types of cables.
- DO choose a quick-connect power cable if possible. Like what the name says on the label, quick-connect cables are designed to be detached and reattached quickly from winches without the need of tools. These features can prove handy if you need to power up the winch in a pinch. It should be noted, however, that quick-connect winch power cables may not be compatible with all types of power winches, so make sure to check the manual first if your winch can accept quick-connect cables.
- DO get a complete kit rather than just a cable. Power cables are usually sold as is, although there are also cables that are sold as kit with added peripherals such as switches, dust covers, and even spare wires and plugs. And while these kits often do have a higher price tag, buying these additional separately may cost you more in the long run. However, if you are on a tight budget or if the peripherals are not a necessity, buying only the cables is a fine choice as well.
- DO buy a cable with the right length. Winch power cables are often sold in 7 ft and 24 ft lengths, so choose one with the length you find appropriate to your needs. Take note that while short cables may not offer a lot of maneuverability, longer cables are harder to store properly and more prone to damage.
- DON'T buy a secondhand cable. While refurbished winch power cables are cheaper, they are most likely to have a shorter service life than brand new ones. What's more, many secondhand power cables sold today are not covered by warranty, so it may prove to be costlier for you in the long run than if you bought a new cable instead.
- DON'T buy a cable that does not support the weight limit of your vehicle. If a power cable that's designed for winches with a 6,000 lbs limit is used in a 9,500 lbs capacity winch, the cable might not provide enough power for the winch to perform normally. Even worse, it might even put the winch under unnecessary strain and damage its components.
- DON'T buy a cable that does not meet government safety standards. Specifically, the cable needs to be FMVSS compliant and certified not to interfere with ESC systems. Having CE, TUV, and other certifications from third party quality control standards is also a plus.