A Beginner's Guide to Vehicle Wiring
Updated on May 23rd, 2022
Wires provide a path for electricity to flow from one point to another. Without a vehicle's wiring, many critical systems won't function.
In this article, we're going to talk about the different types of wires in a vehicle, their functions, and their importance to the parts of the circuit that they connect to one another. We'll also tackle the common symptoms of faulty wiring and identify the possible causes of wire damage.
There are several types of wires located throughout a vehicle. Some wires simply provide a pathway for power or ground to certain components, while other wires carry a variety of digital and analog signals to parts like the powertrain control module (PCM). The wire's intended use largely determines its characteristics.
Automotive wires are available in a wide range of colors. A wire is typically assigned a color depending on its function. This makes repairs easier because it helps the mechanic identify an individual wire's function from a group of wires in a wiring harness.
However, there's a common misconception that all wire colors are standardized and that each color corresponds to a specific function. In reality, the function of a wire color will vary depending on a vehicle's year, make, and model.
If you want to learn about the function of each wire color in your vehicle, then you have to read your vehicle's electrical diagram in its service manual. Service manuals are issued by the manufacturer and can be found reproduced in repair manuals and repair databases.
Wiring can become shorted to either power or ground. Depending on how and where the wiring is shorted, the components within the circuit might either operate erratically or not operate at all.
An open circuit can occur when the wiring is severed, preventing current flow from one end of the circuit to the next.
High resistance can impede current flow, causing the electrical components within the circuit to either work poorly or not work at all. Issues, such as corroded or poorly connected wiring, can create high resistance.
As mentioned previously, a faulty wire can cause components like your radio to fail, but it can also prevent other important components like your tail lights or turn signal lights from functioning. Faulty wires can also prevent your starter motor from starting your vehicle. Wires are just threads of metal covered by an insulator. They're very basic components doing a relatively simple task, but vehicles depend on them a lot to function properly. Wires are key components of your vehicle, so make sure to repair any faulty wires as soon as possible.
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