03 XLT Radio Illumination Wire | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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03 XLT Radio Illumination Wire

Ragged Jack

New Member
July 5, 2007
Reaction score
City, State
Dawson, IL
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 XLT
I just replaced the factory radio (bone stock, no steering wheel controls, subwoofer or amp) in my 03 XLT with a Sony Double Din unit. It works fine, I used a harness adapter from Crutchfield, and it wired up fine.

My problem is, there is a wire from the Sony unit labled 'Illumination Wire'. The directions say that if there is no illumination wire from the vehicle, to disregard that wire, which I did. The diagram that came with my adapter harness did not mention an illumination wire from the Explorer.

Now the radio lights up obnoxiously bright all the time it is on. During the day that's ok, but it's distracting at night. The lights in my factory radio dimmed with the dash lights, so I have to assume there was a control wire going to it.

On the factory radio, there were 2 plugs going to it. One was a larger plug, which had all the speakers, power, etc. Then there was a smaller square plug with only 2 wires going to it. There was no mention of this plug at all in any of the directions that came with the adapter harness. Could one of these be the illumination wire?

The 12 Volt and Commando sites list the basic color codes for the radio, but don't mention the dimmer.

Has anyone run into this and found the answer? Any help would be appreciated!


On the sony you dont have the ability to "dim" (like roll the brightness with the switch). Its either on or off In shich its a predetermined amount from sony (you may be able to change it in the settings IDK though) I am guessint the wire from the radio is either orange or orange/white. If there is no matching on the factory side then you will have to wire it to the parking lights circuit. This way it till dim when you turn on the parking lights. from my notes it should be a brown wire at the switch (test with a dmm) its going to rest at 0 and go to 12v when on.

Ah, ok, so it will run bright until the parking lights come on, then go to dim mode? And yes, you can set the brightness in the Sony setup menu, but for what I paid for the radio, it should be easier.

Thanks, I will try that this evening!
(Now where did I put that 7mm....?)