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If you've ever had questions about the types of wires used in vehicles, automotive industry standards, common insulation materials, gauge determination, or customization options, you're in the right place. In this blog, we'll provide clear and concise answers to frequently asked questions about automotive wires to help you make informed choices to navigate the world of automotive wiring.

What types of wire are commonly used in the automotive industry?

Automotive primary wire and battery cable are the two most common types of wire and cable that are used in the Automotive industry. Other than primary wire and battery cable, Allied Wire and Cable also carries various other types of common automotive wire, such as brake cable, car speaker wire, fusible links, and trailer cable.

What standards should be considered 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). It is also important to consider the specifications set by individual car manufacturers. Allied Wire and Cable’s automotive primary wire meets all Ford and Chrysler standards.

What insulation is commonly used in primary wire?

The most commonly used insulation materials for automotive applications Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Cross-Linked Polyethylene (XLPE). PVC insulation is often heated and then extruded through a dye on the stranding. PVC can be melted with a heat source to change its form. Cross-linked insulation is created by extruding the material through a tube under heat and pressure to change the molecules of the insulation to another state. The main difference between the two are the temperature ranges. A cross-linked automotive wire can withstand much higher temperatures. Regardless of insulation material, both wires share a voltage rating of 50V. There are three main wires for both insulations, all of which are primary/general use wires.

  • PVC automotive wire:
    • GPT - used for general circuit wiring and rated to 80 °C
    • TWP - lead-free, thin wall automotive wire rated to 105 °C
    • HDT - heavy wall automotive wiring rated to 80 °C
  • Cross-linked automotive wire:
    • GXL— thin wall, most common type, works with most standard automotive connectors, rated to 125 °C
    • SXL— standard wall, rated to 125 °C
    • TXL— extra thin wall, best for applications that require minimal size and weight, rated to 125 °C

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What are the different types of battery cable?

Battery cable is also available in PVC and cross-linked forms. SGT cable is a PVC cable rated at 80° Celsius. It can be used in starters or battery grounds. Cross-linked battery cables can also be used in starter and battery ground applications, and are more resistant to heat, abrasion, and aging than PVC cable. We carry STX and SGX cables. They are both rated at 125° Celsius, but STX has a thinner wall. This makes it popular for automotive applications with limited space. Our Battery Cables also have a voltage rating of 50V.

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

First, make a small cut about 1/2" long and remove the insulation on the automotive wire. Then, count the individual strands of copper and use a micrometer to measure one of the strands. From there, refer to the table below to determine the wire's gauge.

# of strands/strand gauge = wire gauge
7/28 = 20 AWG
16/30 = 18 AWG
19/29 = 16 AWG
19/27 = 14 AWG
19/25 = 12 AWG
19/23 = 10 AWG
19/21 = 8 AWG
37/21 = 6 AWG

How can I customize my automotive wire?

We offer several customization services for our automotive wires. Both PVC and cross-linked automotive wire can be printed with custom text or company logos and striped with up to three tracers. PVC automotive wire can also be dyed for easy identification.

Automotive Wire Catalog