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Harness Crimping Page

     UPDATED: June 11, 2024       CONTACT  
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Crimping Open Barrel Terminals
Assembling Crimp Connectors
Removing EFI Crimp Terminals
Releasing Volvo P80 ECU Terminals
Large EFI ECU Connectors
Crimping Large Battery Cable Lugs
Insulated Butt Splices NON-Insulated Butt Splices
Wire TWIST Methods
DEUTSCH DT Connectors
Amphenol AT Connectors

Crimping OPEN BARREL Terminals
Here's a good crimping guide for beginners: http://www.xj4ever.com/crimping my style.pdf
What is an OPEN BARREL terminal? 
<<< It's a NON-INSULATED terminal with open "wings" as shown to the left. Those wings are crimped over the wire. 

<<< PROPER CRIMP tools are important.  Try not to use a cheap stamped metal crimping tool.  Buy yourself something at least as good as this one to begin with. For those of you who are curious about what crimper I use, this is it for 90% of my crimps for non-insulated or open barrel terminals and virtually all insulated terminals.  This is the THOMAS & BETTS model WT 112M. It runs about $40. I've had this one for 25 year plus. 

<<< Here's a fairly close copy of that crimper, which is available at Harbor Freight. 
With some practice, this simple tool above can create nice crimps on open barrel terminals just like a fancy crimping tool, although a fancy tool may take less time and may be a better answer if you're crimping a lot of terminals.
Check out my video below.

Here's an expensive MSD ratcheting crimper which I have used for many years when I need a fancy crimper. It has dies which can be swapped for different style crimps, such as for auto ignition cables.  It was pretty expensive (close to $100), but years ago when I bought this one there were not many cheap tool options like there are now. So shop around.
THIS MSD CRIMPER: with ignition dies: https://www.summitracing.com/parts/msd-35051/overview/ or with optional open barrel dies: https://www.summitracing.com/parts/msd-3506/overview/

Here's a very highly rated copy of the above expensive crimper for a fraction of the price.

When shopping around for crimpers, try to find one that will do open barrel F type terminals.  You can spend a lot of money on one of these tools or kits, but it you hunt carefully, you can find cheaper ones that will work pretty well.  This one pictured BELOW is under $30 for the crimper and it comes with extra crimping dies and a wire stripper.  Sometimes you get what you pay for when buying CHEAP tools, so shop carefully and read reviews if they exist.

Looking at this photo ABOVE, the style of crimping die normally used for open barrel terminals that are found in my harness pages is the one on the bottom right in this photo. It's most similar to the ABOVE larger photo of my expensive MSD crimper.  The other dies might come in handy, so they would be a bonus.  I don't own this particular crimper.  This one is cheap and might be worth the cost, or it might explode!  You can never really tell until it's in your hands, but I would buy one if I didn't already have mine.

HERE: https://www.amazon.com/IWISS-Crimping-different-terminals-interchangeable/dp/B0195VXA10/

Here's a short, but decent video showing close-up crimping action for an open barrel terminal.

Assembling Common Crimp Push-On Connectors
<<< Here's a FEMALE push-on terminal (AKA: Faston). The most common size is .250 inch (6.3 mm). If this terminal is in a connector housing, it will be held in by that tab. In most cases it's a simple task to insert a thin probe or pick from the front and push that tab flat. Then the terminal can be removed from the back of a connector.

<<< Here's a MALE push-on terminal.
Here we have a typical relay socket plug used in Volvos.  Notice the metal terminals inside the holes?  Not all the holes always have terminals. 
You'll need a tool for this part... a long sharp pick will do. A micro screwdriver can also be used.  If your tool is not small enough on the tip, a little grinding will fix it as I did on this pick. Even a stiff piece of piano wire can work for this step.

Now pay attention to the little openings at the top of the little rectangular holes. That wide spot is where you need to insert your pick. The idea is to insert the pick in about 3/8 inch (10 mm) or so and push down to flatten the locking tab on the terminal. That locking tab holds the terminal in the socket. In the next photos, the locking tab will be easy to see.

If your socket doesn't have a wider opening that you can see, just pay attention to the below pics to know which side of the terminal to insert the pick into to push on the tab.

In this photo you can see the terminal backing out of the hole after the locking tab was released.

Here's a good view of the locking tab on the crimp terminal. After you depress and release the tab and pull the terminal out of the socket, you may find that your tool bent and flattened the tab a bit too much. If you will be re-inserting this terminal into a connector, the tab may need to be pushed back out so it still engages when re-inserted. It needs to be sticking out like in this photo to work correctly. If you accidentally break the tab off, you'll need to crimp on a new terminal.

And make sure the locking tab is on the correct side of the socket hole when re-inserting. As it gets inserted, you should hear a 'click' which tells you it has locked into place. Always make sure by giving the wire a little tug.

And always pay close attention when you plug sockets like this back in to see if any terminals get pushed back out. That can happen sometimes if the tab hasn't fully locked the terminal in place.

Here are a couple videos that show how these terminals are inserted or removed from a connector housing.


Assembling Typical EFI Crimp Connectors
These style connectors and terminals are available in Dave's Volvo Page: https://www.prancingmoose.com/blackvinyl.html#EFIplugs
<<< Here's a typical sealed EFI connector housing found in many different Bosch style fuel injection systems.  This one has 6 poles and is most often used for a MAF (mass air flow) sensor. 

This connector housing uses FEMALE crimp terminals, so this housing is known as a FEMALE housing. Inserting or removing a crimp terminal from one of these housings is easy, but if you're never done this before, this page will show you how.

Fuel Injection
                              2-Pole Plug<<<  Connector housings like these come in a number of different configurations.  The most common one is a 2-pole connector shown here used for a Bosch style fuel injector. This style connector is also known as an EV-1 connector.  They all use the same style crimp terminals that are inserted into these housings from the rear after being crimped onto a wire.

<<< Here's a typical ratcheting terminal crimper that works well for these EFI terminals (same MSD crimper described above). 
The below video will offer a quick view of this type of crimping operation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXDedfvmI_0   (length: 1:34)

The Terminals below are TYPE 1 EFI Terminals (Early type).
These terminals are most often found in Volvo engine harnesses up to approximately 1988, however if you have a harness from Dave's Volvo Page the terminal will almost always be the Type 2 (HERE).
<<< If you're learning to crimp these, it will take some practice before your crimps come out just right.  The wire needs to be tightly crimped, but not so tight that the terminal cuts into the wire strands. The crimp on the insulation does not need to be super tight.  Just make it tight enough to stabilize the insulation portion, but not s tight that it cuts through it.

Be sure to pull on the wire to TEST it after crimping.  It should not pull free.

<<< An EFI TYPE 1 terminal will have a single HOOK (or spur) sticking out like that one on the underside. That hook will be what holds this terminal in place inside the connector housing. 

<<< As the TYPE 1 crimped terminal is inserted into the rear of the connector housing, that hook (or spur) will click into place when it reaches the end and is fully inserted.

<<< When fully inserted, you should hear the hook CLICK into place.

<<< Here's the backside of the EFI connector.  That hinged piece on the bottom is there to help lock in the wire or wire seals, if used. That hinged piece will not be present on all EFI connectors like this and there are plenty of these connectors out there without that part. Those work just as well.

<<< Here I'm inserting a crimped TYPE 1 terminal into the rear of the connector housing. It has a silicone wire seal installed on the wire before crimping the terminal. Some prefer crimping the seal onto the back of the terminal as you'll see below.

A wire seal like this is optional. If you decide to use a rubber boot on the back of this connector, a wire seal is not needed. 

<<<  Once the terminal is inserted, then the wire seal can be pushed up the wire and into the hole. 

<<< If your connector housing has the hinged piece, it can then be closed to lock in the wire and seal.  If your housing does not have it, you can certainly still insert a wire seal and it should stay in place without the need for a locking device, especially if you decide to crimp the wire seal onto the terminal as shown below.

Removing TYPE 1 EFI Terminals.
These terminals are most often found in Volvo engine harnesses up to approximately 1987, however if you have a harness from Dave's Volvo Page the terminals will almost always be the Type 2 (HERE).
<<< If you need to remove an EFI TYPE 1 terminal from a housing, a simple tool is used, which may be a sharp pick or even a small micro screwdriver.  The pick is inserted into the front of the connector housing to reach that hook. The goal is to push that hook toward the terminal so it gets released from the housing and the terminal can then be pulled out the rear of the housing.

<<< Here's an illustration of a Type 1 terminal and how the above pick will depress the hook (or spur) to allow the terminal to be released. 

If you want to invest in a better tool, this Rennsteig tool shown in the Type 2 section BELOW also works very well to release this terminal.

<<< Type 1: CAUTION: If you remove a terminal from a housing and intend to reuse it or re-insert it into the connector, first inspect the hook (or spur) to make sure it's still sticking out. If you bent the hook inward and it's still bent inward, it may not catch when re-inserted. So you should carefully re-bend it back outward so it'll click into place when re-inserted.

The Terminals below are TYPE 2 EFI Terminals (Later type).
These terminals are most often found in Volvo engine harnesses made after 1987

<<< An EFI TYPE 2 terminal will have TWO HOOKS (or spurs) sticking out like these on either side. These hooks will be what holds this terminal in place inside the connector housing.

In this photo a silicone wire seal has been added.  As mentioned above, this type of seal is optional.  It may be used instead of a rubber boot.  It you decide to use a rubber boot, then these seals are not needed.  This seal has been crimped onto the back of the terminal.  This is not required. It can just be slid onto the wire too.  It's up to your preference.

<<< As the TYPE 2 crimped terminal is inserted into the rear of the connector housing, those two hooks will click into place when it reaches the end and is fully inserted.

When fully inserted, you should hear the hooks CLICK into place.

  Since the TYPE 2 terminal has two hooks, it will be much more difficult to release from the connector housing using a simple pick.  It's possible to use TWO PICKS (like that used for the Type 1), however the proper tool like this makes life so much easier for releasing these terminals.
This tool made by Rennsteig PN 680-12093647 works exceptionally well.
This release tool works quite well with Type 1 or Type 2 terminals.

This tool is inserted as shown ABOVE. It will depress the two hooks at the same time. Then the wire and terminal is easily pulled out from the rear of the connector housing.
And here's a video for removing this terminal using a BOBBY PIN.

Here's a short video from HandyDan on releasing ECU terminals on a Volvo P80 harness.

Large 25-Pole or 35-Pole LH-EFI ECU or EZK connectors
Disassembling and removing terminals from a large ECU connector will be very similar to the above procedures.  Many of these connector made before 1987 will have Type 1 terminals.  After 1987 you'll probably find Type 2 terminals.

The above connector has three Phillips screws to remove first.

Some original Bosch connectors have locking combs as shown in the above RIGHT image. Those need to be slide outward before terminals can be released. Non-Bosch connectors usually will not have those locking devices.
Then you may use the same procedures shown in the above section to release the Type 1 or Type 2 terminals.

<<< Here we have a rubber boot that mates to the 6 or 7-pole connector housing. If you're using a rubber boot, then using individual wire seals will not be necessary.
These connectors are available in Dave's Volvo Page: https://www.prancingmoose.com/blackvinyl.html#EFIplugs

Crimping Large Cable Battery Lugs.

  Lots of people have a tool like this one pictured.  This one is from 12 Volt Planet, but there are many other versions available everywhere.  
I prefer using a VISE with this tool, NOT A HAMMER.
This tool is functional and offers pretty good side support for the cable lug. There are better and much more expensive tools, but this one is pretty cheap and better than just smacking the lug with a punch or a screwdriver.  The BIG disadvantage to this tool and others that use a vise is it's hard to crimp a lug under your hood. 

Lots of people have old tubing flaring tools laying around. 
Here's a new use for half of your flaring tool in a vise that also offers good side support for a large lug when crimping. This photo is from plan-to-build.com/making-lugs-for-3-0-cable-from-copper-pipe/.

This inexpensive flaring kit from Harbor Freight will go up to 5/8 inch O.D.

Large Crimping Tools
<<< If you will be doing frequent battery lug crimps or if you need to do crimps like this under your hood, you might want a large crimping tool.  These can be expensive, but if you're been looking on-line, you've probably seen something like this IWISS Terminal Crimping Tool on Amazon.  It advertises the ability to crimp a number of large METRIC sizes, but according to the below video it slightly misses the mark if you want perfect AWG size crimps.  But for the price (under $30) it might be good enough, especially if you have some tools to modify the crimping dies to better fit your needs.

Crimping with Insulated Butt Splices
Here's a good basic butt splice crimping video for beginners.

Basic crimping with nylon butt splices.


Crimping with NON-Insulated Butt Splices
Here's a good basic video explaining non-insulated butt splices.



I have NOT normally been a fan of soldering when building an automotive engine harness.

Above photo from How to Splice Wires: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/working-with-wire/how-to-splice-wires

Solder is fragile and tends to crack when subjected to vibration, rattling, movement, heat, or a combination of these. If an auto harness connection cracks, it will lead to immense frustration and THEN you'll hopefully have learned your lesson. 
Solder is just find for wires that will NOT be bouncing, rattling or vibrating. It's good for an electronic device in your house, but I don't prefer it in a car.

  For best conductivity in a butt joint, copper wires should be joined together COPPER touching COPPER or joined by a butt connector.
NOT copper joined by SOLDER.

If you like SOLDER, soldering PLUS crimping can work well in a car harness.

It's obviously a lot more work than just crimping, but it's a lot stronger.  Here's a video below demonstrating the use of solder AFTER crimping a battery lug.
Below video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkMdlPsBxkc 


These are popular, but be aware these are not miracle connectors. These do not offer a CRIMP. These have a low-temp melt solder inside that melts at a much lower temperature than normal solder. Normally a heat gun will not get hot enough to melt solder, but low-temp solder will melt as low as 200 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. I would not use these under my hood in an area that gets very hot, but these would be OK inside the car.
The tubing will shrink and seal the connection, which is a good thing.


These butt connector have a metal butt crimp inside for a strong, secure connection, plus low-temp solder in the center, which will melt when heated. The plastic tube will also shrink down and seal the connection well (adhesive lined inside, which melts and glues the connection tight. These connectors are expensive, costing as much as almost $1.00 each. They come in sizes for wire in 18-20 AWG, 14-16 AWG, or 10-12 AWG. 

No Crimping, No Solder.

There are a number of videos showing how to twist wire together effectively WITHOUT using solder or butt crimps.  Here are a few methods below.
Just keep handy a supply of some different sizes of HEAT-SHRINK TUBING to cover them.





DEUTSCH DT connectors are 100% interchangeable (every single part) with Amphenol AT Series connectors.
(Amphenol AT equivalent connectors are further below CLICK HERE)

Hard to spell, but Deutsch connectors are very good. Fully sealed, easy to use connectors suitable for almost any automotive application.
Deutsch connectors are sold by TE Connectivity, formerly Tyco Electronics.
I like these connectors, so I thought I'd highlight them here.
I don't offer these in my pages because they're available pretty much everywhere. But I use them and they are great connectors.

Most common types used for automotive:

DT Connectors:
14-18 AWG, rated up to 13A. Uses Size 16 contacts (terminals).


DTP (Power) Series Connectors:
10-14 AWG, rated up to 25A. Uses Size 12 contacts (terminals).

These are for higher amp power connections up to 25 amps.

Here are some a good Deutsch plug assembly demonstrations.



Amphenol AT Series connectors are 100% interchangeable (every part) with Deutsch DT connectors.
Amphenol AT Series connectors are sold by Amphenal Sine Systems.

A comprehensive cross-reference is available here:


Most common types used for automotive:

AT Series Connectors:
14-22 AWG, rated up to 13A. Uses Size 16 terminals.


ATP (Power) Series Connectors:
10-14 AWG, up to 25A rating, uses Size 12 terminals.
These are for higher amp power connections up to 25 amps.

COMPARISON VIDEO: Deutsch DT versus Amphenol AT


<<< PLUG: This refers to the MALE PLUG HOUSING, which inserts INTO the female receptacle housing.

<<< RECEPTACLE: This refers to the FEMALE RECEPTACLE HOUSING, INTO which the male plug housing inserts.

This part below can get CONFUSING too.

<<< SOCKET: This refers to the FEMALE contact terminal, which is placed into the MALE PLUG HOUSING.

<<< PIN: This refers to the MALE contact terminal, which is placed into the FEMALE RECEPTACLE HOUSING.

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