Automotive Wire Frequently Asked Questions

Automotive Wire

Automotive Wire

What types of insulation are on automotive wire?

There are two main categories of automotive wire – PVC and Cross-Linked. The biggest difference between the two categories is temperature range. Cross-linked automotive wire can withstand much higher temperatures than PVC automotive wire.

The three main types of PVC automotive wire are:

  1. GPT - used for general circuit wiring and rated to 80 °C
  2. TWP - lead-free, thin wall automotive wire rated to 105 °C
  3. HDT - heavy wall automotive wiring rated to 80 °C

PVC is insulation is extruded, which is created by heating PVC and then extruding it through a die on the stranding. This insulation can be melted with a heat source, changing the form.

The three most common types of cross-linked automotive wire are:

  1. GXL – thin wall, most common type, works with most standard automotive connectors, rated to 125 °C
  2. SXL – standard wall, rated to 125 °C
  3. TXL – extra thin wall, best for applications that require minimal size and weight, rated to 125 °C

Cross-linked insulation is created by extruding the material through a tube, under heat and pressure, in order to 'cross-link' or change the molecules of the insulation to another state.

Click here to watch our video on automotive wire or read the transcript!


How do you determine the Gauge (AWG) of the automotive wire?

Make a small cut about 1/2" long and remove the insulation on the automotive wire. Then you will need to count the individual strands of copper. Next use a micrometer and measure one of the strands. Also count the total number of strands that are present in the automotive wire. Look at the following information to determine the gauge of your automotive wire.

7/.028 = 20 (7 strands that measure .028 each equals 20 gauge)
16/.030 = 18 AWG
19/.029 = 16 AWG
19/.027 = 14 AWG
19/.025 = 12 AWG
19/.023 = 10 AWG
19/.021 = 8 AWG
37/.021 = 6 AWG

What are some of the different types of battery cable?

Battery cable is large automotive cable. Like smaller types of automotive wire, it is available in PVC and cross-linked forms. One type of PVC battery cable is SGT cable. It is rated to 80°C. SGT can be used in starters or battery grounds.

Cross-linked battery cables can also be used in starter and battery ground applications, but they are more resistant to heat, abrasion, and aging than PVC cable. Two types of cross-linked battery cable are SGX and STX. They are rated to 125°C. Of the three types of battery cable, STX has the thinnest wall, making it a popular choice for automotive applications with limited space.


How can I customize my automotive wire?

AWC offers several customization services for automotive wire. Both PVC and cross- linked automotive wire can be printed with custom text or company logos. They can also be striped. Up to three stripes, called tracers, can be added to the cable’s jacket. Both striping and printing make your automotive wire easy to identify, saving you time. PVC automotive wire may also be dyed for easy identification.


What are other common types of automotive wire and cable and what kinds of applications are they used for?

Aside from the automotive primary wire and battery cable mentioned above, trailer cable, automotive brake cable, ignition wire, fusible link wire and SRML wire (high temperature motor lead wire) are all considered automotive wire and cable. Trailer cable can be used on trailers and trucks as well as in other applications where resistance to weather, oil, and grease is necessary. SRML wire is flexible and fire resistant and can be used as motor lead wire or as lead wire for high temperature electrical equipment applications. Automotive brake cable is used for electric brakes in cars, trucks, and trailers. Common applications for primary wire include general circuit wiring and wiring in engine compartments while battery cable is intended for use in starters and battery ground circuits. Car speaker wire is designed for use in radios, music systems, public address systems, and other low voltage applications.


What are some specifications and standards I should consider when choosing automotive cable?

Common standards for the automotive industry include those created by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). All of these organizations develop standards for the automotive industry to encourage the manufacture and use of safe and high quality automotive wire and cable. More important specifications to consider are those set by individual car manufacturers. For instance, all of Allied’s primary wire meets both Ford and Chrysler specifications.

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