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Car Antenna Cable Connectors: Types, Terms, and Defining Characteristics

Welcome to our guide on car antenna cable connectors.

Most people associate the car antenna setup with FM radio, but they have more functions. For instance, modern vehicles can have antennas for GPS or Wi-Fi reception. 

These devices can receive all kinds of wireless signals and need car antenna cable connectors to send the signals to the radio equipment via wires.

Let’s focus on these antenna cable connectors to expound their types, terms, characteristics, and more!

What Is a Car Antenna Cable Connector

Car antenna cable connectors enable radio frequency signal connection and transfer between radio equipment and an external antenna. 

This connection is usually via a coax cable, and the connectors attach this cable to the radio equipment and antenna on both ends.

Car-Antenna Cable Connector Types

These connectors come in different types that fall under these three categories.

Coaxial Connectors

As the name suggests, these connectors attach to coaxial cables to link radio equipment and external antennas. They fall into these two categories.

A coaxial cable with an F-type connector

A coaxial cable with an F-type connector

Standard Coaxial Connectors

Since they have standardized specifications, coaxial connectors are typical on most vehicle antenna systems. 

They comprise a central conductor with a surrounding insulation layer and an exterior conductor to shield the inner one.

The devices come in various types, which include the following.

  • BNC Connectors: Suitable for wireless video reception.
  • F-type Connectors: Ideal for over-the-air terrestrial, cable, and satellite TV reception.
F-type connectors

F-type connectors

Miniature Coaxial Connectors

As the name suggests, this coax cable connector has a smaller form factor than the standard type, making it suitable for limited spaces. 

But it provides reliable signal transmission, and it includes the following.

  • Fakra: Compatible with Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Wi-Fi. They are ideal for GPS, FM signals, and cellular communication in infotainment systems.
An external GPS antenna

An external GPS antenna

  • FME: Also known as SAP or nipple connectors, FME connectors support cellular frequencies to enable vehicle automation functions. These include CV2X (Cellular Vehicle 2 Everything) and ITS (Intelligent Transport System) infrastructure.
  • SMA/SMB: SMA connectors feature threaded interfaces to form secure joints. However, SMB connectors have snap-on coupling mechanisms and are slightly more compact than SMA. Both can receive satellite radio, cellular networks, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
An SMB connector

An SMB connector

DIN Connectors

DIN 41585 single-pin connectors are common in stock and aftermarket head units to link the aerial to ISO sockets.

There’s also the 7/16 DIN connector, which can run a Bluetooth, satellite receiver, and satellite radio antenna. It is a 50-ohm connector with a frequency range not exceeding 7.5GHz.

A car radio’s DIN antenna connector

A car radio’s DIN antenna connector

7/16 refers to the device’s dimensions, which are 7mm for the inner conductor diameter and 16mm for the outer conductor’s internal diameter.

ISO Connectors

ISO 10487 connectors feature standardized pin connections for satellite navigation, loudspeakers, amplifiers, CD changers, and remote control.

Terms Associated With Car Antenna Cable Connectors

When dealing with and handling car antenna cable connectors, you’ll most likely come across the terms gender and polarity. 

These connectors have male and female ends that must mate to transmit the signal across the joint.

A Fakra car radio antenna adapter (male to female)

A Fakra car radio antenna adapter (male to female)

This antenna cable connectors’ gender aspect must align with the polarity. For instance, if mating male and female SMA connectors, ensure both are standard or reverse polarity.

Standard vs. Reverse Polarity

A standard polarity male connector (antenna plug) has its center pin sticking out of the middle conductor, and the shell’s threads are on the inner side of the outer conductor.

Standard polarity SMA connectors

Standard polarity SMA connectors

On the other hand, a standard polarity jack/female connector (socket) has a hole dipping into the inner conductor and threads (or sliding surface) on the exterior layer of the outer conductor.

Reverse polarity conductors refer to the orientation of the inner conductor. 

Therefore, reverse polarity male connectors (plugs) still maintain the threads or sliding surface on the inner side of the outer conductor. 

But the inner conductor has a socket instead of a pin.

The female type (reverse polarity jack) has the same outer structure as the standard type. But the inner conductor has a pin instead of a socket.

Reverse polarity male and female SMA connectors

Reverse polarity male and female SMA connectors

Characteristics of Car Antenna Cable Connectors

Frequency Range Compatibility

Since antenna connectors can support more functions than the FM radio, their frequency range should match the application.

For instance, you should not use BNC connectors for Wi-Fi reception because the connector can only handle low frequencies. This setup will have high signal losses.

A BNC connector

A BNC connector

Impedance Matching

Like the frequency range, you must match the cable’s impedance to the connector to prevent signal reflections. 

Most coaxial cables have 50-ohm or 75-ohm impedance, and the impedance of the antenna connector must match this value.

Form Factor

These connectors have large, mini, or micro form factors, with the last two being ideal for compact spaces.

Although tiny, these connectors offer the same or even better performance than the large type. So, you can use these devices even if you don’t have a space shortage.

Signal Loss Considerations

High-quality antenna cable connectors have low insertion losses, which help to preserve the signal quality and strength.

There is also the interference issue that can cause signal losses. Shielding blocks external noise interference to retain signal integrity along the path.


Car manufacturers usually hide antenna wires and connectors inside the vehicle. But if exposed to the elements, ensure the components have a weather and corrosion-resistant construction to maximize durability.

Car antenna connectors and wires hanging from the roof during installation

Car antenna connectors and wires hanging from the roof during installation


Most antenna connectors adhere to industry standards like DIN and ISO to maximize compatibility across various car makes and models. This design simplifies replacements and upgrades.

Common Issues That Arise With Car Antenna Cable Connectors

  • Corrosion and Rust: These issues occur if water penetrates through the outer shield, boot, or seals due to incorrect installation or aging. Corrosion and rust create poor electrical contacts, resulting in signal degradation.
  • Moisture Ingress: Water penetrating the connectors can cause signal losses due to shorting.
  • Signal Interference: Without proper shielding, noise will get into the connector if installed in a region with multiple electronic devices or high-voltage power lines.
  • Incompatibility: This issue can arise from impedance mismatching, frequency range incompatibility, or both.
A car radio antenna adapter

A car radio antenna adapter

  • Wear and Tear: Repeated insertion and removal can wear the mated joint, resulting in broken or bent pins. Damaged connectors and pins lead to connectivity issues, such as signal losses and distortion.
  • Loose Connections: Loose connections, especially on threaded connectors, cause intermittent signal reception and poor signal quality.
  • Aging/Degradation: Connectors age with time, but exposure to the elements, sunlight, and extreme temperatures can hasten this degradation. As the aging advances, signal transmission gradually declines. 
  • Installation Errors: When considering grounding and polarity, installation errors can interfere with signal transmission performance.

Wrap Up

Car antenna cable connectors come in different types with varying specifications to match the application. 

This variation is vital because antennas don’t only receive signals for FM radio; modern cars require data from various wireless signals, such as GPS and satellite radio.

Contact us if you need these connectors to replace or upgrade the existing ones in your vehicle’s antenna. 

We can also recommend or source antennas, coax cables, and antenna extension cables if needed. 

I am Lillian Yang, having been a sales manager for over 10 years.

I have received many positive reviews from customers. They have praised our excellent service, on-time delivery, and high-quality cable assemblies.

For your projects, please provide cable assembly files/images/smples, etc., so that I can send you a quotation within 24 hours.

Contact me now and let’s get started on building your wire harnesses!

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