Wiring a car stereo is one of those jobs that seems complicated and in need of expert attention. It’s not, however, and with the right knowledge, anybody can wire up a new head unit with minimal fuss.
Knowing what each wire does and where it needs to go is the biggest hurdle to overcome, unfortunately, due to the proprietary nature of car design, the wiring is rarely standardised between models. Going over each wire for each model could fill an entire book, so in this post, we’re going to focus on the pink one!
Unfortunately, the answer varies from model to model. It’s also worth pointing out that, if you’ve had any electrical work done, such as re-wiring, your wire colours may not match any standard list. So let’s go over the models that have pink wires.
Ford uses pink striped wiring (a pink wire with a colored line running along its length) in their speaker wiring. Different variants of pink wiring go to their right rear and left rear speakers.
GM use plain pink wiring (no stripe) for their powered antenna, so be sure to connect this if you want your antenna to retract.
Jeep commonly use pink wiring for the memory power input.
Nissan uses the pink wire for one of the connections to its right rear speaker.
For Toyota, pink means one of the two connections to the front left speaker.
All The Wires
Depending on the model of the vehicle, the pink wire serves different purposes. So, let’s look at the functions themselves.
The memory wire is a constant feed to your stereo, allowing it to retain stored information. If you have a new radio fitted and it forgets your presets when you turn the ignition off, the chances are that this wire is the culprit. This wire is also necessary for you to use your radio with the ignition off. This wire constantly carries +12 volts.
Like the memory wire, the ignition wire carries +12 volts. Unlike the memory wire, the ignition wire is only live when you switch on the ignition. It is this wire that makes it possible for your radio to automatically turn on when you start the car and turn off when you stop the car.
As anyone with a basic understanding with electronics will know; you need to complete a circuit for it to work. The power comes in through the memory and ignition wires, and it leaves through the ground wire.
You might have noticed during night driving that your instrument lights get dimmer when you flick the headlights on. When driving in the dark, you don’t want bright lights glaring in your face from just below the windscreen! The same applies to your stereo. The illumination wire provides a signal which the radio uses to know when to turn the lights on its controls down.
The name may seem confusing given the existence of the illumination wire. The “dimmer” wire allows radios that have the option to have their brightness controlled by cars that have dimmable interior lighting, allowing for consistent lighting across your instrument panel.
For vehicles that have them, the power antenna wire allows the radio to control your retractable antenna, pulling it down and out of the way when you are not using it.
These are pretty self-explanatory. For most systems there will be eight wires; two wires per speaker, four speakers in the far. They may be marked to distinguish between front left, front right, back left, and back right.
Check the Manual Where Possible
Wherever possible, you should always consult up to date information for your vehicle and head unit before attempting any electrical work. Manufacturers change things all the time, and information in this post that is right for the vast majority of a particular manufacturer’s vehicle may be inaccurate for the latest model to roll out of the factory.