Car Stereo Wiring Guide

Installation of a car stereo can be a relatively easy thing to do. To make the process easier the aftermarket has come up with a color scheme for all of the wires that you will need to connect to make your new aftermarket car stereo work with your vehicle. carries a vehicle-specific wiring harness and interfaces for virtually every vehicle, we suggest you use it to connect your new stereo to your vehicle’s factory wiring harnesses. This will ensure proper connection to the appropriate signals and works seamlessly, without cutting any of the factory cables just like the factory stereo did.

Warning: Disconnect the negative terminal of the battery before beginning any installation
Warning: Disconnect the negative terminal of the battery before beginning any installation


I. Aftermarket Car Stereo to Factory Harness

When removing a factory radio and replacing it with an aftermarket radio, you will need to use a wire harness or interface.

Wiring harnesses allow you to make color coded connections without modifying the factory cabling and connectors . Some vehicles require the use of an interface*; an interface prevents vehicle errors, provides full integration to factory equipment (Amplifiers, Steering wheel controls) when removing the radio due to factory data-bus systems.

*Consult Metra, Axxess Interfaces, Scosche, PAC-Audio, American International vehicle application guide)

Aftermarket harness wire color key

II. Aftermarket Receiver Wire Harness

When installing an aftermarket receiver you will match the functions of the aftermarket wire harness with that of the aftermarket receiver. The wire colors of your new receiver may, or may not, match the wire colors of the aftermarket harness.

The aftermarket harness will include a key that indicates the wire color and function, you will match these with the aftermarket radio harness by function. These connections must be soldered and insulated to prevent accidental shorts. Insulated crimp connectors are also suitable.

III. Power Wire Color Legend

Color Polarity Function
Yellow Car Stereo Wire Meaning Yellow + Constant 12 volt power source regardless of key position.
Car Stereo Red Wire - Accessory Power Red + Accessory 12 volt power source requires turning of the key position.
Car Stereo Black Wire - Vehicle Ground Ground Chassis ground.
Car Stereo Orange Wire - Illumination on or off Orange + Illumination wire, provides 0 volts when lights are off and 12 volts when the vehicle exterior lights are on.
Car Stereo Orange and White Wire - Dimmer wire Orange / White stripe + Dimmer wire, provides 0 – 12 volts from the vehicle and is adjustable with interior light dimmer control.
Car Stereo Blue Wire - Power antenna wire Blue + Power antenna, provides 12 volts from the receiver when the FM or AM radio is being used. Turns off on any other source.
Car Stereo Blue and White Wire - Amplifier turn on wire Blue / White stripe + Amplifier turn on, provides 12 volts from the receiver when receiver is turned on.
Car Stereo Brown Wire - Mute wire Brown + Audio Mute (Not common and not used in most applications).
Car Stereo Light Green Wire - Parking brake wire Light Green Parking brake, vehicle provides a ground signal when parking brake is pulled up.
Car Stereo Light Violet Wire - Reverse trigger wire Light Violet + Reverse trigger (+12 volts when vehicle is placed in reverse)
Car Stereo Pink Wire - Reverse trigger wire Pink + V.S.S. – Vehicle speed sense (PWM signal / square wave)

2 Responses

  1. Gardner Niskey says:

    I have my radio harness connected as per color code, but when I turn off the vehicle I loose my clock setting, do I have to connect both the red and yellow wires to retain clock settings?

    • QMV-Lorenzo says:

      You have an issue with the yellow wire not staying a constant 12 volts when the vehicle is off. You will need to check this with a voltmeter.

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