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How to Replace Speaker Wire in Car?

Rewiring car speakers is something that we often want to reserve for a professional because we think it is too hard to do.

However, if you know the right steps to follow, replacing your speaker wire in the car is quite simple. So, how to replace the speaker wire in the vehicle? Let’s find out below:

To replace speaker wires in the car you have to:

  • Disconnect the car battery from the primary power source and remove the speakers.
  • Disconnect and remove existing speaker wires.
  • Strip both ends of the wire before attaching them to their corresponding terminals.
  • Connect one side of the prepared wires to the amplifier’s terminals and the other end to the car speakers.
  • Reconnect the battery and test your new speaker wire by playing some music through your car stereo system.

Tip: Choosing the speaker wires is not a difficult task, but make sure to use OFC wires.

Excellent quality offer Knukoncpetz (link to Amazon) wires that are also elastic and easy to install, which is especially important when running new cables through tight spots in the car chassis.

In the article below, I will go into more detail about some of the tools and materials that you may need to replace your car speaker wire successfully. I will also provide some tips on choosing the best quality speaker wire for your specific needs.

When Should I Rewire Car Speakers?

Replacing the speaker wires in your car may be necessary for several reasons. In older vehicles, the insulation of the wires may be frayed, or the wires may wear, especially where they are constantly moving while opening and closing car doors.

Also, when you start hearing cracking sounds, or if the speakers stop working, then it is time to check the wires and, in many cases, to rewire the speakers.

Worn speaker wires may cause short circuits and damage to the stereo or speakers, hurt sound quality, and cause speakers to crack.

Replacing speakers in the car with new ones is another good reason to change wires. Most of the aftermarket speakers are more powerful than factory models, especially when you have an external amplifier.

how to replace speaker wires in car

To be sure speakers receive the right amount of electricity with little or none resistance, you have to use quality, thicker wires.

Below are the best wires I have found for my installations that will not ruin my wallet at the same time (links to Amazon open in the new window):

KabelDirekt wires are amazing for any distance, elastic, and made from pure copper (OFC) which means they will never corrode.

Gear It wires are a great choice if you are on a budget but still aim for quality sound and stable connections.

How to Wire Car Speakers to the Radio?

Replacing speaker wires is something that professionals should handle, especially when you want to hide wires behind the trim panels of your car and do not damage the interior. However, you can replace car speaker wires yourself if you are ready to take on the work.

A good precaution to follow when wiring the speakers of your car stereo is to never work on any part of the electrical system with ground wire attached to the battery. If you forget to disconnect the black cable from the battery, be prepared for an electric shock or a short circuit and damage to the car’s electrical system.

If you decide to replace car wires yourself, below are a few steps to follow:

Remove the radio from the dash.

In some cars, you will need to remove the trim panel around the stereo unit, or part of the central console. If you do not have an amplifier installed and are replacing the radio cables, select which wires are connected to which speaker. It is important not to plug negative wires to the positive terminals.

Remove the speakers from the doors.

In this step, you will need to disassemble door panels using a flat-end screwdriver. When you have door panels removed, unscrew speakers and disconnect the wires.

Cut the new wires and make sure they are long enough.

It is worth adding 12 – 15 inches to the measured length, especially when you are running wires to the door. In general, it is better if the wire is too long than an inch too short.

Strip the end of the insulation using a wire stripper and connect with a wire from the head unit harness or the amplifier.

When connecting new cables with the harness, use male / female connectors, or solder the wires together. Either way, a connection point has the be stable and isolated.

Run separated wires to each speaker’s location.

Regardless of where the speakers are installed, make sure to hide wiring under the floorboards and mats to ensure clean and safe installation.

Connect new wires with the speakers.

Use connectors that match the speakers’ terminals.

Install speakers in their locations.

Place the speakers in the door panels and assemble all back together.

Pay attention to the color codes on the wires. The original speaker wires from the head unit harness have different colors and each pair goes to a different speaker, so do not mix them. Otherwise, you will lose the stereo effect when instead connecting the left and right speakers you will connect the left front and a right front.

Also, one wire in each pair will have a colored strip, usually black or white. This strip tells you which wire is positive and which negative. Remember to connect the new aftermarket wires in the same way. Mixing positive with negative wires will reverse speakers polarity .

In other words, speakers will not make sound waves towards the inside of the car as it should be but will push the air in the direction of the magnet. You should only change polarity in some designs of the subwoofers where you have both drivers paired, to make sure they do not play against each other.

For any other speakers, one wire must connect the positive terminals of the amplifier and speaker. The other wire should connect both negative terminals.

What Size Speaker Wire Should I Use for Car Speakers?

You will have to take a look at the particular speakers you want to use and how much power they will need from an amplifier. In most cases, speaker wires should have a gauge from 14 to 16, depending on the wattage.

You do not want to use too thin wires because this will cause more harm than good. Small wires cannot transfer enough power and can overheat, what will directly affect sound quality.

It is therefore safer to use too thick wires. Bigger sizes (smaller gauge numbers) will also reduce resistance, but do not go too extreme and use gauge 6 for the door speakers.

If you want to learn more about speaker wires, check this article. I have highlighted important points to consider when searching for good car audio wires.

How to Run Speaker Wire Through the Car Door?

The most complicated part of the rewiring car speakers is to run wires through the door grommets. You will not need any complicated tools, only the basic ones:

  • Small flat head screwdriver
  • Wire with a loop from a coat hanger or fishing tape

Although there are many different grommets’ designs in different cars, there are however few standard steps to be taken when running wires through the car door:

  • Remove the door panels and the speakers. When that is done, you can remove the plastic runner and then the underside plastic piece that is by the dead pedal. You should notice that this is held in with a plastic screw, but it should be easy to turn with just your fingers.
  • Remove the rubber sleeve or the grommet that is in the side of the door. The screwdriver will help wedge this out. It is easy to put back, so don’t worry about that part. Then place the hand into the speaker mounting hole and reach where the grommet is attached to your door.
  • When you feel the grommet, pull it while the other hand on the outside helps to push it. Do not slide this grommet over the wires. You can use the screwdriver to help when pushing from the outside.
  • Take the fishing tape and use it to feel the end of the rubber sheath and pass the fishing wire or tape through. Be careful not to use too much force.
  • Then we need to place the speaker wire on the loop and pull it through carefully. Now we can move downhill. Take the wire that went through the door and pass it into the hole in the body of the car where the other grommet goes into. Place the other hand in the hole where you removed the piece near the dead pedal. This should be where you get the wire. When you get it, pull just a bit on the slack.
  • The last thing to do is reposition the grommets. You can push out the one that is inside the door and use your screwdriver on the outside to help manipulate it. You should see it catch. Then push in the one on the body.

Which Car Speaker Wire Connectors Should I Use?

There are a few different types of connectors that you can choose when trying to rewire your car speakers, but which one should you use, depends on the speaker’ and amplifiers’ terminals design. Some of the most common types are:

speaker wire banana connectors
  • The banana connector is just one solid pin that can be pushed into the banana plug, most often used in powerful speakers or subwoofers.
  • Pin connector, also known as the pin header. It will have one, but often more, rows of male pins that are spaced just 0.1 inches apart. Pin connections covered in plastic surrounds are often used in factory wiring and are connected directly with standard head units. For aftermarket speakers, though, you will find separated pins either straight or bent for bolting down in speaker terminals.
  • Spade connector, or fork terminals. They guarantee stable connection when screwed down into speaker’s terminals and can be easily detached when needed.

Rewiring car speakers can be an easy process, though it may take a bit of wiring and finagling to get it all done. With the help of these steps, I hope you can hook up your car stereo in no time.

FAQ

What Wires Are Used for Car Speakers?

There are two main types of wire used for car speakers, stranded wire and solid wire.

Each type has its advantages and disadvantages:

The stranded wire comprises multiple small strands of copper wire, while the solid core wire is a single piece of copper Wire.

Stranded wire is more flexible than solid core wire, making it easier to work with when running new speaker wires in your car.

However, because it is made up of multiple small strands of copper, it is also more susceptible to breakage.

Solid core wire is stiff and less flexible than stranded wire, but it is less likely to break since it is one continuous piece of copper.

This makes it a good choice for running new speaker wires in your car, especially if you plan on routing the wire through tight spaces.

What Size Speaker Wire Should Be Used in a Car?

The size of the speaker wire you use will depend on the wattage rating of your speakers and amplifiers.

For example, if you have 100-watt speakers, you will need at least 16 gauge speaker wire.

If you have 1000 watt speakers, you will need at least 8 gauge speaker wire.

How to Route New Speaker Wires in a Car?

When running new speaker wires in your car, it is important not to damage the existing wiring.

#1. Start by disconnecting your battery’s negative (-) terminal to prevent accidental shorts.

#2. Next, remove the old speaker wire from your car. If possible, use a wire stripper to strip away the insulation from the ends of the wire.

#3. Once the old speaker wire is removed, you can start running the new speaker wire through your car. Avoid sharp edges or moving parts that could damage the wire.

#4. Finally, connect the new speaker wire to your speakers and amplifiers, and reconnect your battery’s negative (-) terminal.

What Do the Colors Mean on Speaker Wires?

The colours on speaker wires indicate the positive and the negative cables, but also the left and right channels.

For example, solid colours are used for positive wires, while solid with stripes are used for the negative speaker wires.

Can Any Wire Be Used as Speaker Wire?

Not all wires can be used as speaker wires.

For example, electric wires can be used as speaker wires because they’re flexible and have a better sound effect.

Solid electric wires, however, are not a good choice for the speakers because they are stiff and can damage connectors.

Also, aluminium wires are not suitable for car speakers because they are not as flexible as copper wires and can break easily.

It is also important to use the correct gauge wire for your system. Using too big of a gauge wire (too thin wires) can result in a loss of sound quality or even damage your equipment.

How to Run New Speaker Wire in Car?

When running a new speaker wire in your car, be sure not to damage the existing wiring.

#1. Start by disconnecting your battery’s negative (-) terminal to prevent accidental shorts.

#2. Next, remove the old speaker wire from your car. If possible, use a wire stripper to strip away the insulation from the ends of the wire.

#3. Once the old speaker wire is removed, you can start running the new speaker wire through your car. Avoid any sharp edges or moving parts that could damage the wire.

#4. Finally, connect the new speaker wire to your speakers and amplifiers, and reconnect your battery’s negative (-) terminal.

How to Wire Car Speakers?

Car speakers are typically wired so that each speaker is connected to its designated amplifier channel.

Any other connection combinations are not recommended because they will change the impedance of the speaker system.

For example, if you wire two 4 ohm speakers in series, they will each see 8 ohms of impedance, making the system less efficient.

If your car has more than one set of speaker wire outputs, you can use a Y-adapter to connect multiple pairs of speakers to a single channel.

Can Speaker Wire Be Too Thin?

Using too large of a gauge wire (too thin wires) can result in a loss of sound quality, overheating and melting the wires, or even damage your amplifier.

It is essential to use the correct gauge wire for your car audio system.

Can Speaker Wire Be Too Thick?

Using thicker speaker wire will not damage your equipment.

In fact, using thicker speaker wires can improve your system’s sound quality because thicker wires have lower resistance and can transfer more signal.

How Do I Know Which Speaker Wire Is Positive and Negative?

The colours on speaker wires indicate the positive and the negative cables.

As a standard, wires with solid colours are positive, and those with stripes are negative.

Can I Use Any Type of Speaker Wire for Car Speakers?

Any type of copper or aluminium covered by copper wire can be used as a speaker wire.

However, it is important to use the correct gauge wire for your car audio system.

Using too large of a gauge wire (too thin wires) can result in a loss of sound quality or even damage your equipment.

How to Wire Car Speakers Without Harness?

To wire car speakers without a harness, you have to connect the speaker wires with the corresponding cables coming out of the car stereo.

To connect both wire ends, use connectors and then electrical tape. Make sure that all the connections are secure and there is no bare wire showing.

Do I Need Special Tools to Install Speaker Wire?

You do not need any special tools to install speaker wire.

Only the wire stripper will make the job easier and remove the insulation.

What Is the Difference Between Shielded and Unshielded Speaker Wire?

Shielded speaker wire has an additional layer of insulation that protects the wire from interference. Unshielded speaker wire does not have this additional layer of protection.

How to Change Car Speakers in Door?

#1. To change car speakers in the door, first you have to remove the old speaker. To do this, you will need to remove the door panel.

#2. Once the door panel is removed, you can access the speaker and disconnect it from the wiring harness.

#3. Next, connect the new speaker to the wiring harness and reinstall the door panel.

How Do I Connect Regular Speakers to My Car?

To connect regular speakers to your car, you need speaker wire adapters. 

Adapters will allow you to connect the standard speaker wires to the car’s speaker wire output.

Can I Use My Home Stereo Speakers in My Car?

You can use your home stereo speakers in your car. However, the sound produced by the home speakers may not sound as good as car speakers because home speakers have been designed to play in larger areas.

When installing home speakers in the car, remember to use a suitable amplifier because the home speakers have a higher impedance (8 Ohm) than car speakers (4 Ohm).

How Do I Know What Gauge Speaker Wire to Use?

The correct gauge speaker wire to use depends on the wattage of your car audio system, the length of the wire run, and the impedance of your speakers.

As a general rule, wires for car speakers should be of a gauge between 16 and 12 (the lower number for more powerful systems).

What Is the Difference Between 14 Gauge and 16 Gauge Speaker Wire?

The difference between 14 gauge and 16 gauge speaker wire is the thickness of the wire.

14 gauge speaker wire is thicker than 16 gauge speaker wire and can carry more power.

Can I Use 18 Gauge Speaker Wire?

You can use an 18 gauge speaker wire for car speakers. However, it is not recommended for use with car audio systems because it is too thin and can result in a loss of sound quality.

What Is the Difference Between Stranded and Solid Core Speaker Wire?

A stranded speaker wire is made up of multiple small wires twisted together. Solid core speaker wire is made up of a single piece of metal.

Stranded speaker wire is more flexible than solid-core speaker wire, making it easier to work with when running through the car chassis.

However, solid core speaker wire is more conductive, which will carry more power at the same gauge.

Can I Use Speaker Wire for My Subwoofer?

You can use speaker wire for your subwoofer. However, using the correct wire gauge for the subwoofer is crucial.

Using too thin wire can result in overheating it and transferring a limited signal to the subwoofer, therefore the right size of the so the right size of the subwoofer wire is AWG between 12 and 4 for the most powerful woofers.

Can I Use Speaker Wire for My Subwoofer?

In general, any type of CCA or OFC wire can be used as a speaker wire. 

The right size of speaker wire for most systems is AWG between 16 and 12.

How Do I Know if My Speaker Wire Is Bad?

There are a few signs that your speaker wire may be bad.

If you notice a drop in sound quality, crackling or static when playing music, or if the wires are physically damaged, they may be damaged.

Also, if the wires are old, they may have degraded and become less effective.

How Do I Fix a Bad Speaker Wire?

If you have a bad speaker wire, the best thing to do is replace it.

If the speaker wire is physically damaged, you may be able to repair it by cutting out the damaged area and soldering the rest of the wires back together.

However, if the wire is old or has been degraded, it is best to replace it.