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How to connect your new car stereo's wiring

Be sure your wire connections are solid

The first step to installing a new car stereo is connecting the stereo's wiring harness to the adapter that will plug into your car. Making long-lasting, secure wire connections is of the utmost importance. By using one or more of the methods illustrated below, you can be sure that your connections will last for years to come—and that your new car stereo will work properly.

How to connect two wires

Most of your connections will require splicing the ends of two wires together. About a dozen times over. Below are what we consider to be the best ways to do this. Use the method that works best for you.

Soldering two wires

Soldering makes the most solid connection. Heat shrink tubing protects and insulates that connection. The task always starts with a wire stripper for removing insulation from the wire ends.

Using Posi-Products connectors

Posi-Products™ connectors are easy to attach and stay firmly in place. This is our favorite method because of the quality of the connectors and the simplicity of the technique.

Crimping wires

Crimping can create a reasonably solid connection. You'll need a crimping tool and crimp caps. The only potential drawback is that if the caps aren't crimped tight enough, they can shake loose. Give them a good tug before you install that stereo!

How to tap into existing wires

Sometimes you need to connect a new wire to the middle of an existing wire. This is called "tapping" the wire, and there are several different ways to safely and securely do it. Here are our three preferred methods. Your situation will help determine the best way to do it.

Tapping with Posi-Tap connectors

Just like their wire connectors, Posi-Tap connectors are easy to use to create a secure tap into another wire.

Tapping by soldering

Soldering is the old-school way to get the job done, and here's the trick for properly soldering a tapped connection.

Tapping with a T-splice (no solder)

T-splicing, also referred to as a "mechanical" splice, is the way to create a solid connection using only the wires themselves. Sometimes it's the only way to get the job done. It's also a good option to practice on a workbench.

Let us do it for you — Crutchfield ReadyHarness

For most cars, we offer the Crutchfield ReadyHarness™ service. We will take the harness from your new stereo and your vehicle specific adapter harness and professionally connect the two before we ship your new stereo. We'll let you know if this service is available for your car when you tell us what you drive and select a new stereo. 

Crutchfield ReadyHarness

Meanwhile, you can learn more about the process in our ReadyHarness article. Keep in mind, you might still have to tap into a couple of wires in your car — we can't do that part in advance.

Install it like a pro

Facing those two bunches of wires can be intimidating, especially if this is your first installation. But the task really isn't that hard if you take your time and make your connections with care, one wire at a time. Before you know it, you'll have your new stereo installed and ready to rock.

If you run into a problem or get stuck – and if you purchased your gear from Crutchfield – give us a call and our tech support team will walk you through it. 

Last updated 6/2/2020
  • John Pugh from Hampstead

    Posted on 10/29/2020

    I'm really impressed with Crutchfield and I feel much better about taking this on after exchanging questions and answers. My contact was so patient and helpful. I really didn't want somebody else doing this install because this car is one that I've waited over 40 years to own and I would be a nervous wreck waiting for anyone else to do the job. I will be very careful and very patient as I progress through the install. I have white leather car seats so I will be extra careful. The amount of helpful information provided by Crutchfield is fantastic so I am more confident about this job now and I'm looking forward to it and getting prepared. I would advise anyone to use Crutchfield given just my experience so far. I am an electrical engineer and I can read a wiring diagram just fine but I don't have a lot of experience taking apart pieces of dashboard and console. There are some good YouTube movies also but it can be difficult to find an exact match and sometimes steps are missed. My hat goes off to Crutchfield and their terrific level of support! Thank you!

  • Tony Dinelli from Sapulpa

    Posted on 9/30/2020

    Is it possible to damage your stereo unit if you solder connections with the wire harness still attached to it?

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 9/30/2020

    Tony, you'll want to keep the stereo at a reasonably safe distance from your soldering iron but you should be alright.
  • Bradley Olson from Glencoe

    Posted on 9/18/2020

    My 2001 Chev 2500HD has a cassette player factory installed in the console under the climate controls. after connection of the ReadyHarness the cassette player no longer powers up or works at all. How can I get this to work in conjunction with my new stereo/navigation unit? I bought the Kenwood 575S from you.

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 9/18/2020

    Bradley, give Tech Support a call. They can troubleshoot the problem with you for free, included with your purchase.
  • Steve from RAYMOND

    Posted on 9/15/2020

    I have been installing car stereos for years and I still got to learn something new from these videos! You guys have connectors I never knew existed! I think I am going to have to order some of these!

  • Darrell Vance from Whitney

    Posted on 6/23/2020

    I have a 2008 h3 Hummer and I have connected my navigation, back up camera and 4 audio cables that came with the harness. Any problem is that the only speakers that play are the front. The rear speakers and the sub do not. I guess I have to connect the speaker wires till the others speakers play, but I thought the harness would do that. Last question, how to connect audio cable to sub speaker wire so the sub will play correctly.

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 6/23/2020

    Darrell, if you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Check out our tech support page for details.
  • kenneth x washington from Suitland

    Posted on 6/16/2020

    great info

  • kenneth x washington from Suitland

    Posted on 6/16/2020

    great info

  • Ron P from BelleMead

    Posted on 11/3/2019

    I purchased a ReadyHarness for my recent order and received it with all connectors connected. I would have appreciated in my instance that they would have left two of the connectors unconnected before sending out to me because on my vehicle these connectors are used (connected) differently depending on whether or not the factory radio coming out has an amplifier on it or not. Crutchfield made an assumption for me and it was wrong. Had I not picked up on this before I installed and fired up my unit, who knows what would have happened?? I also noticed an extra harness plug that is not being used in my installation which none of the directions indicate as "not used". Hopefully after speaking with technical support, the documentation can be updated to address these minor setbacks with my install.

  • Joe C from Boston

    Posted on 4/14/2019

    The soldering video isn't quite right. It is effectively showing how to do a cold solder joint, which is less than ideal. The soldering iron should be heating the wires, and the solder itself applied to the wires, not iron. When the wires reach the proper temperature, they will begin to "drink" the solder, resulting in a proper connection that will last much longer.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/12/2018

    Joe, we'd need more info about the stereo and your vehicle to help. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Joe from Redwood City

    Posted on 2/8/2018

    Hi i got a pioneer single din ,on the wire harness it has 1 blue with a white stripe, my car harness adapter has a blue wire with a white stripe. If the decks blue wire with the stripe is for the amp then what is the other blue wire with a white stripe on my car harness adapter for??? I also have a loose solid blue with from the antenna adapter, could those go together?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/5/2017

    David, I've passed your question along to one of our Advisors. They will contact you soon to double-check the trim level on your vehicle. Requirements for installation will vary depending on your factory package.

  • David Smiley from Wilmington

    Posted on 9/1/2017

    Is the harness you provide all that would be needed to Install this unit into my 2002 BMW 530i in order to replace the current dsp stereo and retain the steering wheel volum control ECT.?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/8/2016

    Antonio, if that's what you prefer. We tend to use Posi-Products or solder our connections.

  • Antonio from St louis

    Posted on 12/7/2016

    Could I use bullet splice connectors to connect the wires?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/6/2016

    Rachel, you'll want to use this harness to connect your new radio, but you'll need to reconnect the factory harness that your brother removed. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Rachel Bemis from Perryville

    Posted on 12/6/2016

    I am looking to install my recently purchased head unit in my 2002 Hyundai Sonata. I am having a bit of trouble. My brother was smart and decided to cut the wires that connected to the stock head unit. What do I need to fix this? Would be amazing if someone could help me out. What kind of harness do I need?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/18/2016

    Jerome, give Tech Support another call. If you've wired your speakers correctly, that will help our team troubleshoot what else could be the problem. If you've taken photos of your most recent wiring job, that could be helpful as well when you call Tech Support.

  • Jerome Mahoney from Sellersville

    Posted on 1/16/2016

    I have 1995 Mercedes Benz c class. I changed out the radio head w a JVC kD 320 Bts and speakers purchased at Crutchfield. After install, powered up, miswired message on display, no sound. Talked to ur rep Jason today and he said that I installed wrong wire connectors and I replaced them and soldered the speaker wires and shrink tubed. Still no sound.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/4/2016

    Dillon, you should use the thinnest gauge soldering wire possible for this kind of precise work.

  • Dillon from Las Vegas

    Posted on 12/30/2015

    I just watched the soldering video in preparation for my car audio receiver installation and was wondering what size soldering wire I should buy. Wire size was not mentioned in video method 1.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/14/2015

    Robert, check out our online Knowledge Base. You'll find wiring information for your Passat there. And if you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Robert Spradley from reading

    Posted on 12/13/2015

    How do I connect the two adapters in my 98 passat, I already have the head unit wired, just need more info on how to connect the rest of harness in the dash.

  • Trevor from Pfafftown

    Posted on 11/20/2015

    I greatly appreciate your help! I am more than satisfied with the service at Crutchfield. My new receiver will be delivered shortly :) thanks again!

  • Dave Delamere from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/20/2015

    Trevor, you're very welcome. The Sony CDX-GT570UP does include a blue wire with a white stripe that is a remote turn-on wire. If your amp already has a remote wire installed, you'll want to identify it and then connect it to the blue/white wire on the Sony receiver. This essentially turns the amp on when the receiver comes on.

  • Trevor from Pfafftown

    Posted on 11/19/2015

    Thank you, that was a great help! How would you suggest I wire my REM wire to the new head unit? I'm looking at the Sony CDX-GT570UP, and I see that it has a blue terminal on the back of it. Would that happen to be a REM terminal? Thank you again!

  • Dave Delamere from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/19/2015

    Trevor, the wiring harness we offer for your Jeep plugs directly onto the plug that detaches from your factory radio. Each pin is a match to your Jeep's wiring. You'll need to match the wiring colors on the bare wire end of the adapter to your new car stereo's wiring harness. The remote turn-on wire for your Rockford amp will need to be directly connected to the amp turn-on wire on your new car stereo. There's a blue wire on the wiring harness we offer, but it's made for turning on the factory Infinity amp if it was present in the Jeep.

  • Trevor from Pfafftown

    Posted on 11/18/2015

    I am looking to purchase an aftermarket stereo(from Crutchfield) for my 03' Grand Cherokee Laredo(without infinity sound system). I have aftermarket door speakers, as well as a Fosgate amp powering a single 10" MTX Jackhammer sub. Will this wiring harness match the wire colors in the factory harness? Also, will it power the apms remote(REM) wire that leads back to the receiver? Thanks for your time and patience with my newb questions!

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/10/2015

    J Hoads, we do have a wiring harness and kit available for your vehicle. You can use our vehicle selector to confirm what else is needed for the installation once you select the radio you want. If you have any questions, just give us a call. An advisor will be able to help you as well.

  • jhoads from Chanute

    Posted on 11/10/2015

    I plan on getting a Kenwood DPX 501BT for my 2000 Ford F150...Just wanted to know if this harness would be compatible....?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/8/2015

    Trevonn, you can search our online Knowledge Base for wiring information.

  • Trevonn Brown from forestpark

    Posted on 9/7/2015

    I have a 96 tahoe 4wd 4 door. I purchased the car with the factory radio removed n the original wire harness cut. I need to know how to turn on my factory amp so my speakers will work. What color is the power to the factory amp?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/31/2015

    Joshua, you can search our online Knowledge Base for wiring diagrams. If you don't find the information you need, try your local dealership or online Nissan forums. Good luck!

  • Joshua Vincent from Bowling green

    Posted on 8/31/2015

    My Nissan sentra the plugs were cut when I bought the car so how can I hard wire my boss CD player in

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/17/2015

    John, we have the wiring harnesses you'd need for a straight-forward installation, but which harness depends on which '94 Ranger you have. Give us a call at the number above. The good news is you won't need a dash kit to fit that radio in your dash.

  • John from Newark, ohio

    Posted on 8/17/2015

    Will a Sony CDs-ca710x fit my 1994 ranger pickup cult? If so how do I connect to my harness

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/3/2015

    Daniel, if you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details. Alternatively, check out Pioneer support for help.

  • daniel mourmouris from United States

    Posted on 8/2/2015

    Just installed a pioneer avic8000nex in my 2015 Nissan frontier and the face keeps opening and won't shut. Any ideas?

  • Robert Ferency-Viars from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/24/2015

    Elle Mae, unfortunately, we've never researched any Winnebagos, so we don't have any wiring information. You might be able to find those details in the owner's manual, if you happen to have it, but really, your best bet will be to post this question on some RV forums or Winnebago help sites. If there are any RV dealers in your area, they might be able to help. For what it's worth, this is a normal situation for any vehicle. Auto manufacturers use their own color codes and they rarely correspond to the aftermarket color conventions. That's a very thoughtful gift...good luck!

  • Elle Mae from oregon

    Posted on 6/22/2015

    I have a 1987 Chevy Winnebago Chieftain that im trying to install a Kenwood CD Receiver Model # KDKDC-X395. My wiring harness for the Winnibago are not the same colors As the stereo harness. Nor are they labeled. Please help. This was suppossed to be a surprise for my husband for guys weekend and now he's upset because his "HOMe" is all tore apart. So much for a surprise. Thanx