How-To: Rewiring your factory radio | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations

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How-To: Rewiring your factory radio


Well-Known Member
January 24, 2009
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Year, Model & Trim Level
98 Explorer
I recently bought a 1998 Ford Explorer Sport from a private party. It had a few problems here and there, but it was an overall good deal. One of the problems was with the stereo. The couple I bought the Explorer from said that the previous owner had a satellite radio system installed in the vehicle. The problem was that the company that installed the system was new. This Explorer was their first or second job ever. Needless to say, they did a rather poor job when installing the satellite radio system. The biggest problem was that they had hacked off the factory radio wiring plugs, but the hacking didn’t stop there. They even clipped the rear control plug! But since we cannot change the past, there’s not much point in continuing to fume about it.

That brings us to today (and closer to the point of this How-To post). Today was the day I decided to fix up the mess of wires that was hiding behind my stereo. I purchased a replacement radio wiring plug and pigtail from a local Audio installer. I then removed the stereo and got to work. The problem is that the wires attached to my new plug didn’t match the wires behind the stereo! Now what? Well, I looked around this very forum and came across a thread in which a member had posted pictures of the stereo wiring diagrams for the 98-01 Explorers. After I took several deep breaths, I started working.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, or perhaps some thieves stole your stereo and plug, this post should simplify your life a little bit. I searched and searched for a post or Internet page that had a simple color to color description so that I wouldn’t have to look at the wiring diagram any longer. After quite some time of searching, I came up empty handed. The following is the text I hoped to have found. Hopefully it helps you.

This post is for a non-premium stereo system. My Explorer originally had a CD/Tape/AM/FM stereo in it, but the plug it uses is also the same one that was used for the Tape/AM/FM system and possibly other radios.

Male Plug Terminals:

When you’re looking at your newly purchased male plug (that plugs into the back of the stereo) and holding it as it is plugged into the stereo (flat side up, contacts facing the rear of the vehicle) the terminal numbers are as follows. The bottom left terminal is number 1. It then proceeds through eight in numerical order all the way to the right side of the plug. Number 9 is the top left terminal and number 16 is the top right terminal.

Factory Wiring Harness & Corresponding Male Plug Colors:

----------Wire purpose ----- Factory Harness Color ----- Male Plug Color​
Terminal 1: Positive (+) Illumination ----- Red/Black ------------- Orange
Terminal 2: Negative (-) Illumination ------ Black --------------- Orange/Black
Terminal 3: Not Applicable
Terminal 4: Not Applicable
Terminal 5: Right Rear Positive (+) ------Orange/Red -------------Violet
Terminal 6: Right Rear Negative (-) ----- Brown/Pink ---------- Violet/Black
Terminal 7: Right Front Positive (+) ----White/Light Green ------- Grey
Terminal 8: Right Front Negative (-) -- Dark Green/Orange ----- Grey/Black
Terminal 9: Power; Constant ----------Light Green/Violet -------- Yellow
Terminal 10: Power; Acc. or Run -------- Yellow/Black ----------- Red
Terminal 11: Radio Ground ------------ Black/Light Green -------- Black
Terminal 12: Left Rear Positive (+) ------ Green/Black ----------- Green
Terminal 13: Left Rear Negative (-) ------ Tan/Yellow -------- Green/Black
Terminal 14: Left Front Positive (+) -- Orange/Light Green ------- White
Terminal 15: Left Front Negative (-) --- Light Blue/White ------ White/Black
Terminal 16: Not Applicable

That information was gathered from this diagram in this post.

Behind my stereo there were two Red/Black wires. To figure out which one I needed to use for the positive illumination, I tested them with a volt/ohm meter. The wire you're looking for should not be hot (have power). The other red/black wire red something like 0.21 volts. Again, you do not want the hot wire that reads 0.21 volts.

There. The chart isn't all that pretty, but it should get the job done. Remember, that some plug pigtails might not have the same colors as the wires mine did. I just used those colors for reference. The factory harness, though, should be like the diagram above. Take your time, do a good job, properly strip, join, and solder the wires (don't use butt connectors!), and insulate the wires.

Hope this helps.