Wiring Harness Buyer's Guide
- An automotive wiring harness is an assembly of electrical cables that makes it possible for electrical devices to transmit current and signals.
- The wiring harness serves as a combination of circulatory and nervous systems for the car. Its wires carry electric currents to components that need power and transport data between electronic systems.
- The types of wiring harnesses include the standard harness, reverse harness, speaker adapter harness, stereo relocation harness, amplifier integration harnesses, amplifier bypass harness, chime retention harness, and premium harness.
- Depending on the manufacturer and the number of units in a set, a wiring harness can cost anywhere between $15 to $780.
- Keep the type of wiring harness and its compatibility with your vehicle in mind when selecting a new harness.
Every car contains numerous devices and systems that run on an electric current supplied by the battery. Without a steady supply of sufficient power, the electronics cannot run properly. The individual parts in the car’s many systems also coordinate their efforts and operate at the highest efficiency.
The job of relaying both electric power and signals for communications goes to the wiring harness. However, like any car part, the wiring harness can wear out or malfunction, both of which would require its repair or replacement. To find the best replacement unit for your car, this buyer’s guide will cover the qualities of a good wiring harness based on what it does.
What is a Wiring Harness?
An automotive wiring harness is an assembly of electrical cables that makes it possible for electrical devices to transmit current and signals. It is an extensively organized network of conductive wires, terminals, and wiring harness connectors.
Before car manufacturers came up with the concept of wiring harnesses, wires ran throughout the car without much thought for organizing them. The vehicle’s interior had plenty of room and few components needed electrical power or the wires that carried the current to them.
The haphazard approach to automotive wiring became problematic when manufacturers added convenient functions to new vehicle models, such as entertainment systems, HVAC systems, and power windows. The extra functionality required electronics, which increased the need for wiring.
Car manufacturers organized the assorted automotive wiring into something more compact and orderly. This assembly became the wiring harness. Not only does it simplify construction, but it also makes it easier to diagnose and repair problems involving the wiring.
What Does the Wiring Harness Do?
The wiring harness serves as a similar function as the circulatory and nervous systems in the human body. Just like blood vessels that transport nutrients to organs, the wires carry electric currents to components that need power.
The harness also transports data between electronic systems. Messages from the control modules travel through the wires to reach the components they regulate. Inversely, signals from the components go through the wiring harness to inform the module in charge of their behavior about their current status.
What are the Types of Wiring Harnesses?
Wiring harnesses come in several types that perform different roles. Learning about each type will help you identify what harness needs replacement and what to swap for the bad or failing unit.
Standard Wiring Harness
The most common kind of harness, the standard wiring harness appears in virtually every modern vehicle. It connects to the vehicle’s factory plug and can support almost all vehicular devices and electronic components. This versatile harness will allow you to add and remove various parts easily.
Reverse Wiring Harness
The reverse wiring harness inverts the setup of the standard harness and plugs into the stock radio. It restores a worn or damaged radio plug to working status and supports the installation of an aftermarket radio to replace the stock part.
Speaker Adapter Wiring Harness
Compared to the stock units that come with your car, aftermarket speakers often have different capabilities and requirements. These speakers cannot accept standard wiring harnesses and require a specialized harness.
Stereo Relocation Wiring Harness
Your car’s radio may prove more important than you give it credit for. It links with other devices and they work together to deliver convenient functions. Removing, replacing, and relocating the stock stereo can disrupt the connected devices and the functionalities they provide.
A stereo relocation wiring harness solves this dependency. It lets you move the stereo to a different place without disrupting the operation of the stereo’s connected devices.
Amplifier Integration Harness
In vehicles with advanced sound systems, the stock amplifier comes with an amplifier integration harness that supports the speakers or the subwoofer. This wiring harness connects the new aftermarket radio to the factory-issued speaker system.
If you plan to replace the stock stereo with an aftermarket counterpart, you will need an amplifier integration harness to connect the amplifier to the new stereo system.
Amplifier Bypass Harness
You can find the amplifier bypass harness in vehicles fitted out with factory-issued amplifiers that support speakers or a subwoofer. This wiring harness lets you bypass the stock amplifier for an aftermarket amplifier. It also makes it possible to replace the factory-issued amplifier with the one built into an aftermarket receiver.
Chime Retention Harness
Most vehicles have an audio-based chime system that makes attention-grabbing warning noises when your vehicle detects a problem. The chime system is one of the parts that rely on the stock radio and can get disabled if you swap out the old radio for an aftermarket replacement.
You may need a chime retention harness if you want to install an aftermarket radio while keeping the chime system running.
Some cars may have specialty services that require a premium harness. This harness delivers power to both the warning chime system and the stock amplifiers.
How Much Does a Wiring Harness Cost?
Depending on the manufacturer and the number of units in a set, a wiring harness can cost anywhere between $15 to $780. You can get individual harnesses, a set of two units, an assembly, or a wiring kit that also includes connectors, sockets, and other wiring-related parts.
Selecting a New Wiring Harness
Has your car’s wiring harness failed because of burned or melted wires, corrosion, or wear and tear? Keep the following in mind when picking a new harness:
Our website makes it easy to find a compatible wiring harness for your car. Enter the year, make, and model of your vehicle in the site’s filter bar to browse the wide selection of top-quality parts we carry.
Wiring Harness Type
A standard wiring harness cannot be used as a substitute for harnesses designed for specialized functions like the amplifier bypass harness. Check the type of the wiring harness you need to replace and look for a replacement product of the same type.