Last Updated on November 18, 2022 by Hooria Batool
Once upon a time, the color-coding system varied from brand to brand and even from model to model. Today, most cars are manufactured according to standardized car stereo wire colors. In most cases, you’re supposed to find a wiring diagram included with your car’s aftermarket stereo. Follow the standardized aftermarket radio wire colors if you cannot find such a label. This guide will learn about car stereo wiring colors code with all other info.
Car stereo wires color codes
Depending on their purpose, these wires can be divided into four types. Find out what each color represents.
- Ground Wire: The single black wire in the stereo system, and this is what is used as a ground.
- Power Wires: There are three power wires in the stereo system. A yellow wire provides constant 12V, a red wire is used for accessories, and a white striped orange wire is used for the dimmer.
- Speakers: You can choose from four stereo wire colors, and each of them comes in two variants: solid and striped. For example, the gray wire is the (+) for the right front speaker, while the gray wire with black stripes is the (-) for the same speaker. The white cables correspond with the left front speaker, the purple wire corresponds with the right rear speaker, and the green wire communicates with the left rear speaker.
- Cables for the antenna and amplifier: The blue wire is for the antenna, and the blue wire with white stripes is for the amplifier.
Colors of aftermarket car stereo wires
You can easily connect an aftermarket car stereo by identifying the OEM wires using the wiring diagrams for the vehicle and head unit. Yet, it is possible to accomplish the task without labels, adapters, or graphs. Most aftermarket manufacturers are standardized in their color schemes, unlike OEM head units that are all over the place.
Most aftermarket car stereos’ power, ground, antenna, and speaker wires follow a standard coloring scheme, although there are exceptions to every rule. You have the pigtail with your aftermarket head unit, but it uses the same colors as your standard head unit. The wires must have one of the following purposes and colors:
- Constant 12 volts / Memory Keep Alive: Yellow
- Accessories: Red
- Dimmer/Illumination: Orange with a white band
Wires for ground
- Color: bBack
- Speakers: Right front speaker (plus): gray
- Right front speaker (minus): gray with a black stripe
- Left front speaker (plus): white
- Left front speaker (minus): white with a black stripe
- Right rear speaker (plus): purple
- Right rear speaker (minus): purple with a black stripe
- Left rear speaker (plus): green
- With a black stripe Right rear speaker (minus): purple with a black stripe
Antenna and amplifier wires
- Color: blue
- Turning on the amplifier is controlled by a blue remote with white stripes.
How to install a used car stereo with or without a pigtail?
You can check the list above to see what each wire in the pigtail needs to connect to if you have a used car stereo that you want to install and the pigtail that came with it. If you don’t have a pigtail, you can connect the head unit to your car with an adapter specifically designed for that make and model. Obtain a replacement pigtail anyway if that does not work. It would be great if the colors of those wires matched up with aftermarket standards. In any other case, you will need a wiring diagram, which can sometimes be found printed on the exterior of the head unit or found online.
Adapting the Harness Attachment
Despite most aftermarket head units following this color scheme, and although you can figure out what the OEM wires in your car do without a wiring diagram, installing an aftermarket head unit is easier with a harness adapter. Adapters for car stereo wiring harnesses are helpful because, while aftermarket stereos have similar inputs and outputs to factory stereos that they’re designed to replace, the information and outcomes are not in the same place.
The installation process is simplified when you have a suitable car stereo wiring adapter. An adapter plugs into one end of the car stereo, and the other plugs into the wiring harness that connects to the factory stereo, and that’s all there is to it.
Why aren’t more people using harness adapters instead of splicing wires?
Harness adapters are inexpensive and available for many car and head unit combinations. However, there is not much flexibility when it comes to compatibility. A head unit wiring harness needs to be designed specifically for the vehicle and the new head unit to work correctly.
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You might be able to figure out the exact model of the head unit you’re trying to install. If that is the case, there is an online resource where you can enter that information along with your car’s make, model, and year to see if an adapter is available for your vehicle.
Is there a head unit wiring harness adapter if one isn’t available?
The best way to use a used head unit is to identify the purpose of each wire and manually connect everything the right way if you cannot figure out the specific model. Likewise, there is also a chance that an adapter will not be available for a particular vehicle and head unit combination.
As long as you don’t have the original pigtail that came with your head unit, you’ll need to find a replacement or locate a wiring diagram and attach it to the pins on the back. Although a head unit can be installed without a wiring harness, it is more challenging than the basic DIY head unit installation process most do-it-yourselfers are familiar with.
Replace your old car stereo with a new one with this simple guide. By learning the basic car stereo wiring, we learned all the essential wires and their color codes. Those who are car enthusiasts can easily replace the old stereo themselves if they are willing to work on their cars. You should find a suitable car workshop if uncomfortable with the process. The task should take just over two hours to complete.