How-To: Radar Detector Hardwire for 1994-2004 Mustang


Article By: Josh Sorkin

Why Hardwire?: Easy, there were a couple reasons I hardwired….

  1. Less Problems. I’ve got an in-dash motorized TV/CD/DVD screen, and the power cord from my radar detector (when plugged into my cigarette lighter) obstructs the movement/view/motion, and can also get caught behind the screen, potentially causing MAJOR problems.
  2. Charging a cell phone. When my cell phone needs to be charged, I have to unplug my radar detector. Most of you may still have your center console compartment cigarette lighter available, but I popped mine out, to run wiring into my center console, and then also so I can leave my Power Inverter plugged in at all times and underneath my passenger seat. (Power Inverter allows me to have an outlet to plug in a VCR/DVD/Video Game device).
  3. Convenience. You won’t always have to plug in the radar detector, if you choose to hardwire it to the fuse panel (see

Your Options….
A couple different options arise when it comes to putting your radar detector in the car. These depend on your personal preference and whatever suits your car need. You could:

  • Hardwire the radar detector to the battery through a switch. This will have the detector be on all the time, except when the switch is turned off or when you disconnect the power cord from the actual detector.
  • Hardwire the radar detector to a fuse in the fuse panel. This can be done using a switch or not, depends on your personal preference and needs. If you don’t use a switch, you’ll need to wire it to a fuse that only comes on when the ignition is on, or when the key is in the ignition in the “accessory” position (example: radio fuse). This leaves your radar detector to turn on every time you get in the car and turn the key, and off when the key is not in the ignition.

My Install:

I chose to hardwire it to the cigarette lighter fuse (a 20A fuse, so it can handle the 2A that the radar detector draws, and my cell phone charger at the same time) through a lighted toggle switch that I put in the center console compartment.

Parts:

  • Radar Detector w/ Power Cord and whatever mounting device you use
  • Toggle Switch (Switch Terminal Connectors – not needed but make the job a lot easier)
  • Extra Power Cord (Not needed, but I ordered another power cord just in case something went wrong with my install, and also so that my parents could use my radar detector in their cars if they wanted to borrow it)
  • Switch Mounting Hardware (I picked up a switch panel from Pep Boys, came with everything I needed)
  • Spare Wiring (preferably different colors so it’s easy to tell which is which)
  • Zip Ties
  • Electrical Tape
  • Wire Loom Plastic Tubing (not needed, but makes for a cleaner install and good for hiding wires)

Tools:

  • Your Favorite Mustang Mod Wrench/Ratchets Set J
  • Scissors
  • Wire Strippers
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Mustang Car Manual (came with the car) for fuse locations

Procedure:

(Click thumbnail for full-sized image)

Pry off defrost vent. It’s easily done with a flathead screwdriver and there are 4 connection points (on each of the ends and a two in the middle, all are equidistant from each other). Now take the scissors and cut off the cigarette adapter on the end of the power cord (probably a good idea to cut it maybe an inch from where the cord goes into the lighter).

Thread the wire through the defrost vent as shown in picture.

Run the wire through any hole in the upper dash but NOT in the defrost vent. It can be kind of tricky to do this, but you can slide it around the vent towards your driver’s side A-Pillar. A flathead screwdriver can prove very helpful here to push the wire through.

Continue to feed the wire down through around/behind the vent until it comes through underneath the dash (sorry for the bad pic). This was my attempt at taking a picture of where the wire comes through. Pull through as much wire as you can, but be careful to leave enough to connect up to the radar detector where you choose to mount it.

Remove the piece of material (little cloth piece) from the center console compartment. Also remove the shifter knob, shifter boot, and then screws holding center console in (2 up by the radio, and then 2 more in the center console compartment). Run the two wires through the center console into the console compartment. I removed the cigarette lighter in my center console compartment (reasoning above) and I could just run the wires through there. If you do not want to do this, you can drill a hole to run the wires through, not use a switch, or place the switch elsewhere.

Now you should have a positive and negative wire from the radar detector power cord inside your center console compartment. Connect the positive wire in the center console to the “accessory” terminal on the switch. Where the wires come out underneath the steering wheel, cut the negative wire and ground it somewhere under the dash. This means the power cord is grounded.

You now have a stray wire running from under your dash to where the switch will go. This wire is to be connected to the “power” terminal on the switch, and then attached underneath the dash to the fuse panel. Keep in mind what fuse you are going to connect it to. (NOTE: If you are hardwiring to the battery, this would be the wire that would connect from the “power” terminal of the switch to the positive terminal of the battery, but you’ll need an in-line fuse also, because you are removing the one it comes with when you cut off the cigarette adapter.)

Finish installing and wiring in the switch. If you have a lighted switch, you’ll need to ground the switch (3rd terminal on the switch), which you can do before you bolt the center console back into place. Now once everything is connected up, plug the power cord into your radar detector, put your car key in the ignition and turn to accessory. Now turn on the power/switch to make sure everything is hooked up properly. Once it all works, cover up the wiring with wire loom if you have it, or just hide it neatly.

Finish hiding the wiring through the center console.

Finish hiding the wiring under the dash/steering column

Mount up your radar detector and you’re done!

Its Done!

Great job Josh!

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