Automotive electrical connectors are specifically used in automobile electrical systems.
Electrical systems have experienced increased prominence during the recent history of automobile design. Modern cars are extensively wired and microprocessor-controlled, resulting in a growing need for more reliable wiring and connectors.
The parts of a typical automotive electrical system are shown at right. Most of the components within this system require connectors to interface with other parts.
Automotive connectors can be classified in a variety of ways, including by electrical system component.
For example, audio connectors are used to power and connect a vehicle's audio system. ISO standard 10487 defines four types of audio connectors:
Power connectors (A group) attach the vehicle's head unit to a power supply, on/off switches, and specialized components such as antennas and speed-dependent volume controls.
B-group connectors are used to connect speakers around the vehicle.
C-group connectors are optional and are used to connect specialty peripherals such as remote controls, CD decks, and external amplifiers.
D-group connectors are optional and typically connect satellite navigation systems.
Other vehicle systems requiring connectors include computer systems, sensors, relays, ignition systems, lighting, radio receivers, and power doors and windows.
Automotive connectors may take one of a variety of form factors:
Sealed connectors are multi-pin devices which represent the majority of automotive connectors. Sealing prevents the ingress of environmental contaminants.
Wire terminals are used to make an unsoldered wire connection.
Wire-to-wire connectors are used to join two wire-terminated cables.
(left to right) A sealed plug and receptacle, a wire terminal, and a board-to-board connector.
Automotive electrical connections may be manufactured, installed, and tested according to various standards and specifications. Examples include:
ISO 10487 Passenger car radio connections (2 parts)
ISO 7736 Road vehicles: Car radio for front installation
ISO 9458 Passenger cars: Starter motor electrical connections
Second Chance Garage - Automobile Electrical Systems (5-part series)