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Automotive wiring. The Basics

These are some points to think about and basic automotive wiring tips. Keep in mind this is generic to all cars except for positive grounds.

As we said before, some people are afraid of auto wiring because itís electricity and itís complicated. Itís really not complicated or dangerous unless you forget something or get careless. Just understand these basic rules and you will be fine.

Usually, the basic tools for trouble shooting is:

Test light with a probe and ground clip
A couple of alligator clip jumpers
An Ohm Meter with a digital voltmeter included. (Most have that standard)

Basic tools for wiring needed:
Good pair of wire cutters. (Worn or "cheap" ones will tear the wire and leave loose strands)
Solderless Connector pliers (See Illustration below) 
Soldering Gun
3/16 or 1/4 inch heat shrink tubing (Available at Lowes or Home Cheapo electrical departments)
#10, #12, #14 stranded automotive wire in various colors as needed
Wire Ties Black is best and looks nicer
Assortment of solderless connectors.

Just a little tip.  When using solderless connectors on exterior connections or in areas that could get wet, dab a bit of Vasoline on the ends of the wires before crimping.  This will prevent corrosion.  You'll never have to go back to it.

Basic rule #1
NEVER run your wire through a metal hole without some sort of insulator between the metal and the wire jacket. In time it may chaff through and short. There are all sorts of grommets available. Radio Shack, for example, has a packaged assortment.
Basic Rule #2
Always size the wire to the job. Example, the alternator or Generator should generally be a #10 size wire. The Lighting is generally 14. You should use a #12 for a heater motor.
Basic Rule #3
NEVER just twist wires together, especially component power wiring. 1. Use solder and heat shrink (Best) Electrical tape dries out in time and may come off exposing your wiring. 2. Solderless connectors. 3. Wire nuts. (Last Resort Emergency/Temporary) 
Basic Rule #4
NEVER route your wiring near heat sources like exhaust pipes or turning hardware like fans or drive shafts.
Basic Rule #5
Always secure your wiring or tie it up. It is best to harness any of your wiring with wire ties or tape to be sure they are secure and not easily caught on something.

Keep these things in the back of your mind.

Unlike house wiring, there are two main differences between that and Automotive. Your house runs on 120/220 volts AC (VAC). Your car runs on 12 Volts DC. (VDC) 12 volts will not hurt you. (I do not recommend people with pace makers touching the wires though) You Lights and plugs at home run with two wires. Black is hot, white is ground or neutral. Your car runs mostly depending on the body and chassis as a ground.

Some devices in your car such as lights and dashboards will have a separate ground wire running form it to somewhere on the body. In most cases, those wires are black. There will be exceptions, depending on the vintage and maker of your car. Please note some pre-1955 cars were positive ground. So the theory is reversed. Either way, the fundamentals are the same.









Solderless connectors come in three common colors.  Red (Small) Blue (Medium) Yellow (Large).  All of these are available at the chain lumber stores in the electrical departments.

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