Wire Harness Colors: Car Stereo Color Guide

Are you installing a new car stereo? Do you know what you need to achieve this? First, you need to know the aftermarket car stereo wire color codes. Secondly, ensure the wiring harness adapter identifies your vehicle specifications. The good news is that the CEA has all the color coding standards listed. All you need is to connect the proper wires to the correct terminals.  This article will provide further insight into wire harness colors in a stereo harness. So, read on!

Table of Contents

What’s A Stereo Wire Harness?

You can describe a harness as an adapter. A stereo harness is a vital adapter that assists in installing an aftermarket stereo in the car. Stereo harnesses are readily available in the market and are surprisingly affordable. The only challenging part is choosing the correct wiring harness for the car and stereo.

To ensure your stereo harness works, it has to match your car specs and the stereo. If you find it hard to choose the proper stereo harness, you can use online tools to simplify your work. 

Over the years, the wiring harness has evolved and can now handle complex wiring and data transfer, such as bypassing built-in amplifiers and stretching the length of a wire. 

Specialized Harnesses For Stereo

Diversity in wiring systems has made it hassle-free for individuals. There are varieties of specialized harnesses in the market to choose from. Here are some areas harnesses may assist you:

Extension Harnesses

Some cars have stereo connectors at a distance from their stereo. Similarly, there are some cars with connectors in their trunks. So, this is where extension harnesses come in handy. Experts designed extension harnesses with longer cables. 

The more advanced extension harnesses give you room for adjustments suited to your needs.

Safety Alarm Retainer

Many vehicles have safety alarms integrated into the factory stereo. Therefore, the alarms disappear when replacing the stereo, which is dangerous. The good news is there are specialized harnesses designed to keep the sound alarms working after installing a new stereo. 

Programmable Harness

Today’s modern vehicles have unique features inbuilt into factory radios. These features make wiring more complicated. Examples are FORD sync, GM OnStar, Chrysler Uconnect, and many more. 

You will lose the inbuilt features when replacing the factory stock radio. But it would be best if you didn’t worry; the world has become advanced, and you can still enjoy these features despite replacements. There are now better harnesses that you can program with these features.

You’ll spend an extra cost on the advanced harnesses, but it’s worth it.

Amp Bypassing

There are cases when your car’s stereo system may be separate from the amplifier. Therefore you can use your amplifier with your aftermarket stereo.

Suppose your aftermarket stereo comes with an amplifier, the better for you. You can bypass the factory amplifier using a specialized harness. 

How Do I Find The Right Wiring Harness?

Finding the correct wiring harness is hassle-free. You only need a little information, and you are set. It mostly has to do with your vehicle. Therefore, look out for the following in your vehicle:

  • The year
  • Make 
  • Model
  • Whether your vehicle has a factory-amplified system
  • Whether your vehicle has an aftermarket radio.

You don’t need a wire harness if your vehicle has an aftermarket radio because dealers use a wiring harness when installing an aftermarket stereo.

On the other hand, if you have a factory amplified system, you’ll need a specialized harness. The goal is for it to provide a signal to your factory amplifier. 

How To Install An Aftermarket Stereo Using Harness?

Before you begin your installation, remove the old stereo. Secondly, disconnect the ground wire, which is usually the black terminal of the battery, i.e., the negative wire. Failing to disconnect the ground wire may cause damage to your stereo system or yourself. 

The next step will be to connect the new aftermarket wiring harness adapter. Remember, you checked that it’s the best fit for your car. Now, connect the new radio plug to the wiring harness adapter. The setup allows you to plug the car’s wiring harness into the stereo. 

All you need to do is match the stereo wiring colors with the colors on the harness adapter. Matching the wrong color wires will only give you more headaches. 

Important: The circuit breaker should be off when working with electrical wires. Also, consider what to consider before choosing your wire harness components beforehand. 

What Color Wires Go Together In A Car Stereo?

In the day, vehicle manufacturers used color codes that varied by vehicle model or brand. But, nowadays, they use standardized car stereo wire colors when manufacturing cars. Typically, you should find your car’s stereo wiring diagram providing you with an aftermarket stereo. If you don’t find these, use the aftermarket radio wire colors. 

The electrical wires are available in categories, with each color’s purpose:

Wire Harness Labeling: Ground wire

It is a single black wire. It offers additional parts for electrical circuits to flow to the earth. It’s a safety wire.

Wire Harness Labeling: A power wire

Power wires are available in three categories. They include

The yellow: The positive (+), which supplies a constant 12V memory.

The red: The positive (+) is the accessory wire.

The orange wire with white stripes- In charge of illumination or dimmer. 

Wire Harness Labeling: Speaker wire

Speaker wires come with four stereo colors. Each wire has two variants, striped and solid. 

  • Gray wire: the positive for the front speaker
  • Gray wire with black stripe: the negative for the front speaker 
  • White wires: the positive for the left speaker 
  • White with black stripes: the negative for the left speaker. Transfer the audio signal from the left front speaker to the stereo.
  • Purple wires: connect to the right rear speaker
  • Green wires: connect to the speaker’s negative terminal providing power to the left rear speaker.

You can also check our guide on speaker polarity and get more information before installation.

Wire Harness Labeling: Antenna and amplifier wires:

Blue wire with stripes connects to the amplifier, and blue wire connects to the antenna. 

Other colored wires

The brown wire is the audio mute wire, while the pink is the ignition switch power.

Wire connector terminal 

Wire connector terminal 

Below is a summarized table with the color codes. 

YELLOW 12 VOLT MEMORY 
RED12 VOLT IGNITION
ORANGE DASH LIGHT/ILLUMINATION
BLACKRADIO CHASSIS GROUND
BLUE POWER ANTENNA 
WHITELEFT FRONT (+) POSITIVE 
WHITE/ BLACK 
LEFT FRONT (-) NEGATIVE 
GREENLEFT REAR (+) POSITIVE 
GREEN/ BLACK
LEFT REAR (-) NEGATIVE 
GRAYRIGHT FRONT (+) POSITIVE 
GRAY/ BLACK
RIGHT FRONT (-) NEGATIVE 
PURPLE RIGHT REAR (+) POSITIVE
PURPLE/BLACK
RIGHT REAR (-) NEGATIVE 

Conclusion

Installing an aftermarket stereo has never been easier. The aftermarket wire radio colors have relieved car owners from the pressures of stereo installations. With the correct wire harness colors, nothing can stop you. As long as you are keen on matching the head unit and aftermarket stereo, your work will be hassle-free. 

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

Reach me at [email protected] to get a quote for your projects.

Get A QUICK QUOTE

Fill in your details and we’ll get back to you in 24 Hours.

Get A QUICK QUOTE

Fill in your details and we’ll get back to you in 24 Hours.