Different Types of Mechanical Cables

Mechanical control cables are wires or cables that can be used for the transmission of power between the different parts of a machine. These cables work to provide a push or pull action that helps activate the different components found within a machine. They are also known as push-pull cables and can be utilized in every type of vehicle. You will find these cables in cars, excavators, bulldozers, planes, military cars and other types of motor vehicles.

In this article, we are going to discuss the different types of mechanical cables available and the factors you need to consider for choosing the right mechanical control cable.

Let’s begin.

The Different Types of Mechanical Cables

Mechanical control cables can be used for activating a variety of parts within a vehicle. When selecting a mechanical control cable for a machine, you need to know what type of function the cable must perform. There are two types of mechanical cables to consider here: a push-pull cable and a pull-pull cable. Let’s take a closer look at how these two types of mechanical cables work:

1. Push-pull Mechanical Cable

A push-pull mechanical cable operates via two forces: compression and tension. This type of cable must be able to move in multiple directions through push and pull actions. It utilizes compression for pushing the cable in one direction and tension for pulling the cable in the opposite direction. This enables bi-directional mechanical actuation.

Push-pull cables are commonly used in hydraulic and electrical control systems. They can be utilized in pneumatic control systems, as well. From automation and manufacturing to oil and gas, marine, and aerospace, these cables are used in a variety of industries. They allow for a precise transmission of power that is required to perform various functions such as throttle control, brake control, and activation and deactivation of different systems within a machine.

2. Pull-pull Mechanical Cable

Pull-pull mechanical cables work by applying tension to pull the cable in one direction. Spring-actuation is then utilized for bringing the cable back to its starting position. Unlike push-pull cables that go in two different directions, pull-pull cables go in one direction only. They can start and stop, but will not move in a bi-directional manner.

For instance, this cable can be utilized for pressing the brakes in a vehicle. You can use them to stop the car before releasing the brake. However, you cannot use them for other functions, such as speeding up or starting the car.

Factors to Consider for Choosing the Right Mechanical Cable

There is a lot that you need to consider before choosing a mechanical control cable. Some of the main specifications that must be taken into consideration include:

  • What is the length of the cable?
  • What is the thickness?
  • What is the maximum push and pull loads that the cable can bear?
  • What will the cable be used for?
  • What type of housing material has been used? Is it tubular or square?

To the uninitiated, housing material refers to the material that is used to encase the cable. Common housing materials include aluminum, rubber, and steel.

You will also have to evaluate the type of clamps that will be needed for the cable to operate. Some of the common types of clamps that are available include:

  • Quick-release clamps, ball joints, and clips
  • Connection pins
  • Eyes
  • Forks
  • Studs
  • Handles
  • Brackets
  • Core fittings
  • Conduit fittings
  • Throttle arms
  • Connection pins
  • Threaded end connections

In some applications, you can fit the same types of clamps across the two ends of the cable. In others, different clamps may be required to ensure smooth operation. We suggest you seek help from an expert to select a mechanical cable with the right specifications.


Every machine utilizes a variety of mechanical control cables. Depending on the application, each cable will work in a different manner. Understanding the underlying function of a specific mechanical cable and then selecting the right cable for replacement can be a complex and time-consuming process. Remember that you cannot afford to choose the wrong type of mechanical cable as this can potentially damage the machine and you may have to replace the whole thing. Hence, use the guide above to make the right decision.

If you have any questions, please ask below!