One of the most important parts of your 12V winch to inspect on a regular basis is the cable. If the winch cable breaks under load, you risk significant damage to any vehicle or person in the cable’s path. You also risk damage to the vehicle being recovered, since it could roll back down an incline or slide backwards into a tree, rock, or other object.
Inspect the Cable
Steel cable holds a tremendous amount of energy under load. If it snaps, the force of the lash-back can cause injury or death. Make sure you inspect the wire rope before and after the winching process.
If you notice kinks or fraying, it’s time to replace the cable. Cut wires are also a major warning sign. The more wires get cut, the weaker the cable becomes and the more likely it will be to break under load.
Inspect Adjoining Parts
Inspect the winch hook and hook pin for signs of damage as well. If you notice anything amiss, replace any damaged parts before use.
Protect Your Hands
Always wear thick leather gloves when handling wire cable. Not only can the wire slice into your palms, but the factory coating on the rope can irritate your skin.
Keep It Clean
Wipe off dirt and debris after using your winch rope. Keeping a dirty cable spooled on the winch can lead to rust and corrosion. Wipe it down with a clean rag or use a hose to wash away dirt and debris. If desired, you can add a light coating of oil to the wire rope and winch hook to protect against rust and corrosion.
Make sure the winch cable doesn’t rub against anything sharp during the recovery process. Rig up the pull as straight as possible. Sharp angle pulls increase the chances of damaging the winch cable.
Keep an eye on the winch cable as it spools into the drum. Don’t let it pile up too much on one side of the drum. Uneven spooling can lead to a bird’s nest (which is very difficult to undo) or cause the cable to pile up high enough inside the winch housing that there’s no room left to spool in more cable.