Can You Put Synthetic Rope On A Cable Winch: User Guide

There are lots of people out there asking questions about whether can you put a synthetic rope on a cable winch, well, the short answer is yes and the long answer will be outlined in this article. 

However, note that synthetic rope is swiftly turning into the ideal option over steel since they are lighter, easier to handle, and even simple to store. Nevertheless, people are still debating on the type of winch rope that is better to use. 

Is Synthetic Winch Rope Better Than Cable?

Aside from asking whether can you put a synthetic rope on a cable winch, people keep asking if the synthetic winch rope is better than the cable winch. The fact remains that people are divided on the correct answer to give. 

We can assure you that in the past few years, the popularity of synthetic rope has grown and it is available vastly these days. In answering if synthetic winch rope is better than cable winch, there are things you should know. They include:

The steel cable

Steel cable

The industry standard for a long time has been focused on aircraft-grade steel cables. This is because they are much more durable than synthetic rope though this comes at the expense of its strength and weight. 

If you find yourself in these very abrasive terrains like sand, mud, and rocks, the steel cable is the ideal line to use. This is because it is less susceptible to abrading and fraying issues. 

More so, it is more affordable than synthetic rope and needs less maintenance. But, they can rust, develop burns, and will need gloved hands before you can use them for operations. 

Synthetic rope

Synthetic rope

Synthetic rope came into existence in the mid-’90s and was brought into the limelight as the alternative to steel cables. While they are lighter than steel cables, they are not capable of storing much energy like steel cables. However, since they are lighter, they are mostly used on those vehicles that are very sensitive to weight  

With their increased flexibilities and pretty low weight, synthetic ropes are simpler to handle than steel. Plus they do not get to kink the way cables do. You can handle the synthetic ropes without wearing gloves. 

Note that, when the synthetic rope breaks, it can get repaired with adequate braiding techniques. 

Can You Put Synthetic Rope On A Cable Winch?

For those still asking whether can you put synthetic rope on a cable winch, as mentioned earlier the answer is yes you can. But, have it in mind that the brake drum in the winch may likely not be capable of cooling. 

This is because the steel cable takes the role of a heat sink, while your synthetic rope acts more like an insulator that traps heat. 

Pros And Cons Of Synthetic Winch Rope

Some of the pros of synthetic winch rope include:

  • It is lightweight 
  • When you purchase it newly, it is stronger than your steel cable
  • It is capable of floating in the water
  • It is much easier to handle than steel cable
  • When it breaks, it is pretty simple to field fix
  • Unlike steel, it does not rust

As for its cons, they are:

  • The synthetic rope is incapable of dissipating heat very well. 
  • It is subjected to abrasion when on rocks
  • Its strength is capable of getting degraded at one hundred and fifty degrees 
  • It is costlier than steel cables
  • You will need to get a sheath to protect it from both sunlight and debris

Synthetic Rope Versus Steel Cable Winch

When it comes to synthetic rope versus the steel cable winch, it must be noted that the synthetic rope is way stronger, lightweight, and much more user-friendly than your cables. 

More so, the steel cable is highly durable and more affordable to buy than the synthetic rope. When people winch in rocky or very abrasive terrains, they make use of steel cables. 

However, the synthetic ropes are great for those weight-sensitive vehicles like ATVs and people choose them as a result of their greater safety qualities. 

How Do You Change A Winch Cable To Synthetic

One thing to bear in mind is that the fundamental procedure for changing the winch cable to synthetic is practically the same. This means that it is the same steps you take whether you want to:

• Replace your old steel winch cable with a newer one

• Installation of the synthetic winch rope on a new winch

• Substitute the worn-out synthetic rope with a newer one, or even

• Implate the steel cable with a synthetic rope alternative

Nevertheless, the only difference enough will come across is attaching the cable or the rope to your winch drum and the fairlead to use. 

For now, we are to look at two important installations, and they include: 

How To Install Synthetic Rope On Warn Winch

To do this, you will not have to follow some steps. 

Step One: Inspect the winch

Here, you will need to disconnect all electrical connections while removing the steel cable and Fairhead mechanism. You are to thoroughly inspect it for sharp objects as well. 

Step Two: Fairlead Installation

You are to carry out this installation before tying the rope. To protect you better, it is advisable to use aluminum hawse fairlead. When installing, the rollers must overlap one another. 

As you do this, enough space should be between the mounting plate end and your fairlead apertures. The best clearance is 3/8 inches to ½ inches. If you do not maintain this clearance, the winch can most likely get destroyed. 

Step Three: Allow the rope to slide

If your synthetic rope has some abrasion, you must check it. The abrasion sleeve is normally added with the synthetic ones. So, your sleeve must be affixed to the endpoint of the cable. 

Then, roll your rope around the drum starting from the bottom and start to thread the rope through your fairlead. Doing this involves grabbing the rope and pulling it partially over your winch drum. 

Make use of pliers or pins to hold the wires, then start wrapping the wire as you pull the rope from the hole. You can easily take the string off your drum but ensure the puck is in the loop all the time. 

Step Four: Ensure the wires are taut

Attach the negative connections of your winch to the electrical connections. Ensure that the clutch lever is engaged and must remain in this position. Then, roll your wires around inside the drum. 

Create a tiny tension with your wires to ensure everything is properly working. When it all goes well, spool the remaining wires with a larger force than the first. Then finally, unroll and keep the cable roll on the ground before rolling the entire roll. You can visit here to learn how to wire a winch without solenoid.

How Long Will Synthetic Winch Rope Last?

Your synthetic winch rope can last for roughly ten years if you take care of it with absolute care. When it lasts for more than ten years, it will surely lose roughly twenty percent of its capacity. 


Can a roller fairlead be used with a synthetic rope?

Yes, you can though it is not always advisable since you will risk the rope getting pinched in the rollers’ corners and getting damaged. 

When should I replace my synthetic winch rope?

You can replace your synthetic winch rope when you get to notice some fraying signs or any other damage. 

What is the strongest synthetic winch rope?

The strongest synthetic winch rope that you can purchase out there is the Dyneema rope. It is made using ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene. 

What type of fairlead do you use with a synthetic rope? 

The type of fairlead to use with your synthetic rope is the Hawse fairlead as it guides the rope out while in front of the winch. 

Why is a hawse fairlead needed for synthetic rope?

The hawse fairlead is needed as it can help to decrease abrasion on the rope. 


We have successfully provided you with all you need to know about installing synthetic rope on your winch. Ensure you embark on this installation carefully. 

As for those fond of asking whether can you put synthetic rope on a cable winch, we have also answered the question within our article. Ensure to read it all.

Ricardo Vaughn
Ricardo Vaughn

Vaughn is a seasoned off-roading expert and professional winch specialist. When he's not out on the trails, he shares his knowledge and experiences through his writing as a blog author in the off-roading and outdoor lifestyle space.

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