Aftermarket Radio Wiring Harness Color Code

Getting an aftermarket stereo installed on your car can be a daunting task for first-time users. However, following the proper instructions and knowing the wire colors should make the process easier.

Sometimes ago, cars were made with different wiring color codes depending on the brand. Nowadays, cars are usually made with a standardized wire color.

aftermarket radio wiring harness color code

Car Stereo Wiring Harness Color Codes

In most cases, an aftermarket stereo will come with a diagram that shows the wires and their respective locations. However, if you don’t find one, you should follow the standard radio wire colors.

The wires in an automotive stereo are divided into four different types depending on their purpose.

  • The ground wire is the only black wire in the entire stereo.
  • The four different wire colors for the speakers are solid and striped. Grey refers to the right front speaker, while the black stripes indicate the left rear. Similarly, the white wires go to the left front speaker, while the purple wires go to the right rear. On the other hand, the green wires go to the left rear.
  • The wires for the amplifier and the antenna are respectively blue, white, and black. The blue wire is the one that connects the two components.
  • The three power wires in an automotive stereo are composed of a yellow wire, a red wire, and an orange wire. The yellow wire is used for supplying 12 volts, while the red and orange wires are for accessories.

Car Stereo Wiring Diagram

Before you start installing a new stereo, it’s important that you first study the wiring diagram of the car’s audio system. In the following table, you can see the typycal car stereo’s wire color guide.

ColorTypePolarityDescription
RedPower+12V Accessory Power (Key in Ignition Position)
YellowPower+12V Constant Power to Keep Memory Alive (Independent of Key Position)
BlackPowerChassis Ground
BluePower / Antenna+Antenna Power
Blue / White StripePower / Amplifier+Amplifier Turn ON
OrangePower / Illumination+Illumination Wire. 0V when exterior lights are OFF. 12V when they are ON.
Orange / White StripePower / Dimmer+Dimmer Wire. 0 – 12V for Adjustable Dimmer.
GraySpeaker+Right Front Speaker
Gray / Black StripeSpeakerRight Front Speaker
WhiteSpeaker+Left Front Speaker
White / Black StripeSpeakerLeft Front Speaker
PurpleSpeaker+Right Rear Speaker
Purple / Black StripeSpeakerRight Rear Speaker
GreenSpeaker+Left Rear Speaker
Green / Black StripeSpeakerLeft Rear Speaker
BrownMisc.+Audio Mute (Not Used Frequently)
Light GreenMisc.Parking Brake
Light VioletMisc.+Reverse Gear Trigger
PinkMisc.+Vehicle Speed Sense (PWM)

What Exactly Is A Stereo Harness?

A harness is an essential component of an automotive stereo, as it can help you install an upgraded audio system in your vehicle. Specialized harnesses are commonly used to bypass built-in amplifiers, extend the wire length, and more. You can easily find these types of harnesses at a good price. The challenge is choosing the right one for your vehicle and your audio system.

Before you buy a harness, make sure that it fits both the car and the upgraded audio system. There are various online tools that will help you find the right harness for your vehicle.

Types of Specialized Harnesses for Car Stereos

Due to the variety of wires in a car’s wiring system, there are various types of specialized harnesses that can be found on the market.

Programmable Harness

Modern cars come with numerous features that are built into the stock radio system. If you remove the stock radio, you’ll lose access to these features. Fortunately, there are various types of harnesses that are designed to help you retain these features. These harnesses are very affordable, and they can be programmed to program your vehicle’s audio system.

Extension Harnesses

In some cars, the wires in the audio system are located near the components. In these cases, an extension harness can be used. These harnesses feature long cables that can reach all corners of the car. Advanced models allow you to customize the length of the cable.

Safety Alarm Retainer

Modern cars come with various safety alarm features. In some vehicles, the alarm system is built into the stock stereo. Doing so can eliminate the entire safety system. Fortunately, there are various types of harnesses that can help you retain these features. These harnesses can be utilized to help prevent the stock stereo from completely removing the safety alarm.

Amp Bypassing

Sometimes, the built-in amplifier of your car might be different from the stock stereo system. If the upgraded audio system has a better amplifier, then you should use it instead of the stock one. A specialized harness can be utilized in this case.

How to Use a Harness to Install an Aftermarket Stereo

Many people get confused about the different types of harnesses that are used for the car’s audio system. They usually follow a standard layout. To install the harness correctly, you need to make sure that the colors of the wires are matched with the slots on the harness.

Installing an Aftermarket Stereo Without a Harness

If you’re not able to find the right harness for your vehicle, then follow the manual installation method to connect the stereo to the car’s audio system.

Before you start working on the wires, make sure that the car stereo’s color code is in mind. If you have a head unit that has a pigtail, then you need to make sure that the wires coming out of the radio are connected with that.

If you don’t have a suitable pigtail, then you have two options: You can either get a suitable pigtail or connect them directly to the head unit. Make sure you have the wiring diagram for the head unit to find out the right color code.