Synthetic winch line care

Winch safety: Synthetic winch line inspection

Courtesy of Superwinch

Taking care of your pickup includes periodic inspection of the winch and the winch cable or rope.

Synthetic winch rope is easy to inspect if you know what to look for when it comes to potential trouble signs.


When rope is new, it has a smooth finish. When the rope is first used, the outer filaments of the rope will roughen and give the rope a slightly ‘fuzzy’ appearance (fig. 2).

This condition of the outer filaments creates a rougher rope surface and actually helps to protect the fibers underneath.

Fig. 3

Rope must be replaced when approximately 25% of the visible outer fibers exhibit abrasion (fig. 3).

Glossy or glazed areas in the rope (fig. 4) can be the result of two different conditions.

Fig. 4

The most common form of glossing or glazing is caused by compression, which can be occur when the rope is wound on the winch drum, or through a pulley block.

If the glazed section remains hardened, this can be a sign of heat damage, and the rope must be replaced.

Examine both inner and outer fibers. Open the strands of the rope by compressing the rope length-wise (Fig. 5) and look for powdered fiber and abrasion – this is a sign of internal wear of the rope.

Estimate internal fiber loss to include in your determination of overall abrasion fiber loss of the rope.

Tips for prolonging the life of synthetic rope:

Fig. 5

It is your responsibility to exercise proper care to prolong the life of your synthetic winch rope.

  1. Minimize rope abrasion. Use the movable abrasion sleeve whenever the rope comes in contact with rocks or other objects. Slide the sleeve up and down the rope as required. Abrasion will reduce rope life.
  2. Keep the rope clean. Allowing dirt and debris to enter the rope will lead to abrasion of the rope.
  3. Avoid sharp bends. A sharp bend in the rope decreases its strength substantially under load and may cause rope damage or failure.
  4. Use a pulley block for all loads over 1/2 of rated winch capacity.