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. But replacing your speaker wires can be easier than you think.

As a general rule, the first step is to remove the car stereo together with door panels and to gain the access to the speaker wires. Then disconnect all old cables from the harness and speakers. Remove disconnected wires from the car and run new ones to the same places. Next, attach connectors and connect with speakers. The last step is to assemble all door panels and head unit back together.

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In this article, I am going to look at the steps you can take to rewire car speakers and show you just how easy it can be.

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.

Martin

Welcome to ImproveCarAudio! I am Martin, and I love to write about everything related to car sound systems. I strive to provide the most accurate and helpful information about car audio through extensive research, as well as my experience with car audio installations.

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