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When assessing the reliability of distribution cable systems it is important to consider all contributing factors, the cable itself, the splices and terminations and any devices like transformers, switches etc. There are a number of different diagnostic and preventive maintenance methods available. Their suitability in a given situation will depend on the expectation of the utility customer in terms of what he is trying to assess and the type of answer (result), which a particular test method can generate. There is not one universal test method, which can provide all the answers. The paper presents a combination of two representative methods, which can be used as a basis to answer the question whether to repair or replace a XLPE (cross-linked polyethylene) distribution cable. In addition a general introduction to the various test and diagnostic methods is presented and basic differences between them are discussed.