The Big Three Wiring Upgrade

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The Big Three Wiring Upgrade as seen underneath the hood of a 1997 Suburban.
The Big Three Wiring Upgrade as seen underneath the hood of a 1997 Suburban.

Do I need the Big Three Wiring Upgrade?

Wondering what the Big Three Wiring Upgrade is and why you’d need it?

In a previous article, we discussed some of the undesirable effects low voltage can cause, like headlight dimming and how to determine that voltage is the culprit. 

Your car is made to efficiently utilize its stock electrical charging system. The factory wiring in your car is no different. It will provide sufficient current for the electrical components in the car. 

Adding a high-powered amplifier to that electrical load can put a strain on your charging system.  Your stock system may not be able to keep up with the amplifier’s power demands.

If you want a hard hitting thump machine, you might need to upgrade your factory wiring. 

Otherwise, your amp may give up the precious ‘magic smoke,’ since it’s not getting the amperage or voltage it needs to operate correctly.

To think about it like water pressure: If your wiring is a straw that allows for 100 PSI, and your car uses 90-95 PSI, there isn’t much pressure left in the straw for your amp. This will result in poor performance, amplifiers illuminating the dreaded red light, and headlight dimming.

The first and easiest solution to amperage issues is the Big Three Wiring upgrade. This is an upgrade to your existing electrical system wiring. It is the least expensive upgrade under the hood. 

Upgraded wiring increases the diameter of the straw, which improves the system’s efficiency by allowing the current to flow easier. Systems dealing with more than one thousand watts greatly benefit from upgrading the vehicle’s electrical wiring. 

If you plan on making other upgrades to your vehicle’s charging system, start with the Big Three Wiring Upgrade first. 

Upgrading these wires increases the amount of current that can flow through your charging system. The Big Three wiring upgrade can improve more than the performance of your car stereo system by reducing resistance and improving the current capacity in your charging system. 

Upgrading your wiring may reduce headlight dimming, voltage drops, and provide more stable current. There is the possibility that this will increase your headlight dimming, as it will allow your amplifier to draw more current. This will be the case if your charging system cannot provide the necessary voltage and amperage for the amplifier. 

When should I install the Big Three Wiring Upgrade?

If you’ve noticed voltage drops or headlight dimming and don’t want to turn the bass down, upgrade your Big Three wiring.

Do this before adding a high output alternator, adding a second battery, or spending money on capacitors. 

Picture of Alternator To Engine Wiring Using 1/0 AWG Q-Zero Power-Ground Wire
Picture of Alternator Wiring Using 1/0 AWG Q-Zero Power-Ground Wire for the Big Three Upgrade

What is the Big Three Wiring Upgrade?

We call it “The Big Three” because it upgrades the stock OEM wires with the following:

  1. Positive Wire from the Battery to the Alternator
  1. Ground Wire from the Battery to the Chassis
  1. Ground Wire from Engine Block to Chassis

We will walk through these steps below.

What will I need for the Big Three Upgrade?

The tools you’ll need for the Big Three install are inexpensive, easy to use, and probably already in the garage!

  • High Capacity Power Cable (Ideal lengths will vary)
  • Heat Shrink matched to your AWG
  • Ring Terminals/Lugs that fit the cable
  • Two Terminals that fit battery posts
  • Wire Cutters
  • Plastic Cable Ties
  • Soldering Iron or torch
  • Hydraulic Crimpers
  • Heat Gun
  • Wrench, Screwdriver, Socket Set
Picture of Big Three Wiring Upgrade Using 1/0 AWG Q-Zero Power-Ground Wire
Big Three Wiring Upgrade Using 1/0 AWG Q-Zero Power-Ground Wire

How Do I Install the Big Three?

  1. Select Your Wiring Path
  • Identify the path that your new cables will make.
  • Keep your wiring away from moving parts like fans and belts, as well as surfaces that get very hot like the engine block.
  1. Prepare Your Cables
  • Cut your new cables 1-1.5 inches longer than the stock wires to protect against vibrations and routing bends.
  • Cap and crimp the ends of your new cables.
  • Use heat shrink to seal and weatherproof the ends of these new connections.
  1. Disconnect Your Electrical Equipment
  • Detach the negative cable from your battery terminal and then disconnect the positive connection. In that order.
  • If you have capacitors or additional batteries in your vehicle, disconnect these now.
  1. Connect Your Cables
  • Starting with the battery’s negative cable, locate a grounding area.
  • Drill a hole into the chassis of the vehicle here or locate an existing bolt or fastener that you feel may work. Be mindful to scrape off all paint and any residue on the frame before making your connection. This has to be a bare-metal-to-bare-metal connection. 
  • Locate the alternator’s positive post and run from that to the battery’s positive terminal.
  • Disconnect the stock wire, add your new cable to it, and then bolt it back on.
  1. Test with a DMM
  • Measure the resistance of the new cables before reattaching the battery’s negative connection.
  • The ground wire from the engine block, as well as the disconnected cable on the battery, should have less than one Ohm of resistance.
  1. Secure the Cables
  • Use zip ties every six inches to secure the new wires to components that do not heat up or move.
  1. Check the Connections
  • If all of your new connections are snug and solid, you may reconnect your battery positive.
  • After that, reconnect the battery negative.
  • Turn the car on and inspect for any vibrating wires under the hood.
  • If any wires are loose or vibrating, turn the engine off, and secure them. 
  1. Enjoy the Music

If the Big Three Wiring Upgrade makes your headlight dimming worse, your amplifier is probably using more power than your charging system can produce. Look for our next article on High Output Alternators to remedy this issue with better amperage and voltage.

If you’re ready for the Big Three Wiring Upgrade in your car, grab a spool of SoundQubed Q-Zero Power-Ground Wire to get the job done right without breaking the bank.