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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. 

  • Bruce Vinal from Townsend

    Posted on 12/8/2022

    Got 4 pages telling me how to take the dash apart then basically "connect wires" even with the ready harness it's a nightmare. Help line was responsive and as helpful as they could be but I don't know enough about what I don't know to know what to ask.

  • Rowdy L Twogood from Colfax

    Posted on 11/12/2022

    I cannot figure out this parking brake thing with this stereo I cannot access anything on it. I really don't like the design the stereo sounds great but the parking brake things kind of stupid if I can't figure it out can I trade it in if I can't get it figured out

  • John Steinebach from Ontario Oregon

    Posted on 2/23/2022

    Great videos and information thank you

  • Jason Sallee from Grand Junction

    Posted on 1/2/2022

    Where is the video on how to hook up the extra wires like for your parking break and speed sensor for example?

  • Mike Christy from Elk Grove

    Posted on 10/2/2021

    I really like the videos, with one exception. The way the electrical tape is torn will promote it peeling away much sooner. If you cut it without stretching it, it will stay in its normal shape and adhere to your wires much longer. On a seperate side note, if your wires are going through a wall or near heat, Tessa tape is a great insulator.

  • James D. Grow from Plato

    Posted on 9/9/2021

    Purchased Jensen CDR6221, Maestro, and ready harness to replace a radio in a 2008 Honda Civic LX. Pulled old radio out and found harness didn't really match what was done by someone else. Apparently, the car had a multi-channel amplifier and mono-channel subwoofer amplifier installed previously. Had to cut off harness for new radio to install. Now, door locks won't unlock unless key is on, and radio with backup camera won't turn on. Need help. Additionally, wiring for car has extra connector that wasn't attached with other radio. Help would be greatly appreciated.

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 9/10/2021

    James, please give our Tech Support team a call. You'll find that info in your emailed order details or using the link provided. They'll be able to talk you through your options.
  • David Whalen from Benton

    Posted on 8/3/2021

    I have a 2011 kia optima and I can't find the color code for the factory harness please any help will be appreciated.

  • Earnie Curtis from Minford

    Posted on 5/6/2021

    Will it lock up my security system if I remove the factory radio

  • Cleo Tucker from Bessemer

    Posted on 3/9/2021

    I have the axxess gmos-13 wiring harness and the swc but when i hook everything up i cant hear anything out my speakers i dont know where the factory amp wire goes on a 2005 cadillac sts thanks please help

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 3/10/2021

    Cleo, give our Tech Support team a call for free help (if you purchased from us) troubleshooting the problem.
  • Brendan Wiseman from Lawton

    Posted on 3/3/2021

    Instructions for wiring a 2012 Transit Connect are nearly worthless. No idea where to plug parking wire into as it needs to be spliced into something that isn't attached to factory radio harness, it's apparently coming of my fire wall and is deep within my dash. What would've been done in an hour now is a major thing.

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