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How to Measure a Boat Steering Cable? – A Proper Guideline

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

How to measure a boat steering cable

After a long time utilizing and traveling with your craft, you may notice that there are some broken parts needed to fix or certain units which must be replaced according to the manufacturer’s advice. Hence, steering cable for boat wheeling systems is one of them.

You must be meticulous while measuring steering cables for boats, whether for replacement or new construction. It is unavoidable as the boat ages, as well as the steering system, is subjected to excessive wear during daily use.

Hot-stamped numerals on the cable jacket might assist you in accurately measuring the steering cable. However, it only helps if you use a similar model and brand of cable. So, if you are looking for an exact formulation that can help you measure steering cable in any situation, this article about “How to measure a boat steering cable?” is definitely for you.

In this discussion, we will provide you with a detailed formula for measuring boat steering cables in some certain states and other tips to deal with boat steering cable measurement that you can apply in real circumstances.

Moreover, other further notices on measuring and replacing steering cables for boats will also be compiled so that you can have a better overview of how to work with this important boat component. Hence, continue reading below for the best technique to measure boat steering cables!

What Is a Steering Cable for a Boat


Steering cables are commonly utilized as components of steering systems in nearly all types of automobiles. The system is, in fact, one of the most critical systems in a mobile watercraft.

Furthermore, steering systems, in addition to giving direction and stability to vessels, offer the boar owners the freedom of choice and provide tremendous simplicity and practicality.

On the other hand, the cables utilized within steering systems to give power to the boat motor and operate the steering wheel are an essential feature.

Aquatic steering cables are specialty wires used in watercraft and other hydraulic systems. They provide energy to the system and ensure the steering wheel runs smoothly and glides properly.

As there are many kinds of steering systems, the models of steering cables are also various. However, Ultraflex steering cables and Teleflex steering cables are the two most advisable when it comes to the best cables for boats.

When Should You Replace the Steering Cable for Boats

It is critical to regularly examine your mechanical steering system if you want to avoid hassles while out on the lake. Examining the steering gears twice or three times a year is enough to ensure that your steering system is in excellent operating order.

Since steering components are extensively utilized moving parts, frequent wear – and – tear is to be expected, and you should inspect hardware at both the steering helm as well as the motor ends for damage, corrosion, oxidation, and so on.

Examine the cable jacket carefully for cracks, rips, cuts, or corrosion. The crimped endpoints of the cable are the most plausible areas for damages to occur. Steering cables are really not repairable; a broken steering cable should always be replaced. If a cable is extremely difficult to shift, it must be replaced immediately since it may pose a safety concern.

How to Determine Teleflex Steering Cable Measurement


This part of the discussion will present a thorough method to practice Teleflex steering cable measurement, and boaters can apply the same technique with other kinds of steering cables. There are also some tips for steering cables replacement which you may need in the future, so make sure to follow this post til the end!

The first thing you should look for are marks on its plastic covering. You can learn about the size and kind of steering cable for your vessel thanks to these coverings. Certain cables are measured in inches, while others are estimated in meters.

The engine tilt tube system is the most common type, therefore you’ve probably heard of it. Thus, you may get used to handling steering issues such as turning easily in another direction, getting stiff, halting, or locking up.

It is also possible to lose complete control of the steering wheel. As a result, routine maintenance and inspections are essential. It will be essential to replace something at some point. Here’s a way to determining the length of a Teleflex steering cable:

Pay close attention to the following components that must be measured:

A = The centerline of the boat wheel to the gunwale or deck

B = The length of the gunwale

C = Begin at the gunwale and work your way along the centerline of the cable connection upon that centered tiller.

When installing through the engine tilt tube, you have to add A, B, C, and 6 inches. It’s possible that you’ll need to round it up to the next foot. If the cables are attached to the splash well, transom or springer, add all measured components and subtract 6 inches. Then you must round up to the next foot.

Hence, we can conclude the above theories into this formula:

Total Measurement = A + B + 6″

Round the entire measurement to the nearest whole foot.

For example: A(18″) + B(90″) + C(24″) + 6″ = 138″ or 11’6″ (Round off to 12 ft)

In case you want to replace steering cables that have existed in your boat with a similar model, you may need to look for a component number imprinted on the plastic jacket of your previous cable. However, after removing the old cable, you may begin measuring them once again. The following notices for each type of cable may be helpful:

  • For replacing Rotary Cable: Measure the preceding cable’s plastic cover in inches, then include another 18 inches. The total should be numbered to the nearest foot.
  • For replacing Rack Steering Cable: The first step is similar to measuring rotary cable, but you must add 30 inches. You also need to round the total sum into the subsequent foot.
  • For replacing Jet Boat JBS Cable: You must measure the cable from edge to edge in this section. If you still need to round to the next foot for a separate foot, you must do so. This measurement is only applicable for small boats.

Some Tips for Measuring Steering Cable for Boat Appropriately

When driving a watercraft with mechanical steering, it is probably better to upgrade the steering cable if there is too much movement or friction. This is a simple activity that even a novice DIYer can complete. Here are some suggestions to make sure your new steering cables are simple to install:

  • Reinstall your steering cable with the very same kind that was equipped; hydraulic with hydraulic, or rotary with rotary. This technique guarantees that your boat will continue to perform as well as the first time you commute with it on the water.
  • Examine the manufacturing specification on the cable jacket and headpiece. Those signs will tell you what kind of cable you’ll need.
  • Mechanical steering components are not available individually. These elements must be changed as a group for safety reasons.


Steering cable measurement is required for both specific implementation and replacement. We highly recommend that boaters pay special attention to this boat part since it might create problems if not properly maintained.

There’s no need to be concerned about determining how to gauge a watercraft steering cable. The methods are straightforward and basic. Everyone can simply follow the instructions, and all you have to do is pay attention to the figures. You should write things down, so you don’t forget. We hope that the above information and suggestions can help you handle vessel steering cable measurement without too much effort and enjoy a safe boat trip.

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