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HomeTips & GuidesHow To Remove Pins From Automotive Wire Harnesses: Two Steps To Follow

How To Remove Pins From Automotive Wire Harnesses: Two Steps To Follow

Let’s look at how to remove pins from automotive wire harnesses below.

Complete wire harnesses have two primary components: the wire and harness connector. The latter enables you to join two wires or secure a connection to the end device.

Usually, the connector housing is a plastic case that comes in different designs and sizes to match the application. But the connection points are the pins inside these electrical connectors.

These parts can corrode or wear over time, creating an unreliable electrical joint. Instead of replacing the automotive connector, you can remove the damaged pin and crimp a new one because it is cheaper.

Here’s how to do it!

Table of Contents

Required Tools

You will need these tools

  • A small flat-head screwdriver
  • Depinning tool (wire connector pin-release key)
  • A pair of needle-nose pliers
  • An extraction lever to remove the catch clip (you can use a hair clip as the lever)
A pair of needle-nose pliers

A pair of needle-nose pliers

It is vital to note that each connector is different. Some have an easily accessible catch clip, while others have built-in, hidden catch clips. So, the difficulty of the depinning process can vary depending on the wiring harness connector design.

For instance, depinning a headlight connector like the Z27C2 is easy because it has an external catch. So, all you need is a mini screwdriver to pry the latch.

But removing the pins in an L64A2 connector style requires delicate handling due to its hidden latch.

How To Remove Pins From Automotive Wire Harnesses: General Steps

Step 1: Remove the Retaining Latch

Before pulling the wires out of the connector housing, remove the retaining latch using a flat-blade screwdriver or knife. This retention latch is usually on the rear side (where wires protrude), with its latching slots on one side.

Automotive wire harness connectors from the rear side

Automotive wire harness connectors from the rear side

These tiny holes on the housing hold the matching square lock terminals on the latch, so you only have to separate the two to free the latch.

Insert the knife or screwdriver between the latch and housing, then push it in gently. The latch will pop off when the locks separate from the holes.

Ensure you don’t push the knife or screwdriver too far because you can damage the terminals.

Step 2: Pry the Catch Clip/Fin

Turn the connector to make the male or female connector pins face you. You will notice some letter coding inside, where “P” or “q” means the pins have a bottom-placed latch. But “b” implies the shell has a top latch.

This latch or fin locks the metal connector in the shell, and you must push it up or down to release the pin.

We’ll use a hair clip as a lever to push this clip. First, bend the clip to have the metal pins separate by 90°.

Use a razor blade to slice the soft, rubber-like material off the end of the straight pin’s tip, then bend it a little using a pair of pliers. 

Insert this straight pin into the connector slot right above the terminal and ensure the bent tip faces up or down depending on the letter coding (latch position).

Push it gently until you feel a tiny tab moving inside.

A wire harness connector

A wire harness connector

Pry this tab upwards or downwards (depending on the latch position) while pulling the respective wire gently. Once the fin or clip releases the pin, the wire should come off with the metal connector.

Pin Extraction on Different Styles of Plastic Shells

Let’s look at the steps for pin extraction in type A and B connector housings.

Type A

This connector shell is typical in OEM or factory harnesses, so you’ll rarely find it in the aftermarket harness types.

The unit features a tiny plastic spring clip inside a large aperture on each pinhole to secure the terminals. This clip has almost the same width as the pinhole.

So you can use the same bent-tip hair clip, as above, to push this spring clip up to release it from the metallic terminal’s nose.

Automotive wires with new terminals/pins crimped and ready for insertion into connectors

Automotive wires with new terminals/pins crimped and ready for insertion into connectors

Once free, you can pull the wire and pin from the connector housing. You might need help from another person to pull the wire after freeing the plastic clip.

Extraction Steps

  • Remove the retaining latch using the procedure described earlier.
  • Hold the connector housing firmly by the sides to avoid touching or pressing the lower retention lock.
  • Insert the screwdriver into the broad hole above the terminal or pin you want to remove to ease pressure from the plastic clip. Ensure this screwdriver has a tiny flat blade edge. If this tool is too broad, use a hair clip instead. Avoid pushing anything into the small drilled hole.
An electric connector plug

An electric connector plug

  • Push this tool and slide the tip above the metal terminal until it grabs the plastic clip.
  • Press this screwdriver or hair clip and maintain inward pressure while swinging it up. Feel the tool and listen for the spring’s closing click. You must redo the process if this extraction tool slips past the spring.
  • Pull the wire gently after the plastic spring clasp unlocks.
  • Lock the retention latch before re-inserting the new wire with its metal connector.

Type B

This casing is more typical in non-OEM products, such as the connectors in aftermarket HUs. Each terminal or pin in this connector housing has a metal spring clip to hold it inside. So, you can only remove the metal connector after releasing this pin.

Replacing a vehicle’s head unit 

Replacing a vehicle’s head unit 

The extraction tool to release this pin should have a tip measuring 6mm long by 0.5mm tall and 1mm wide. Additionally, it should be blunt so that it does not pierce through the connector housing.

Extracting type B connector pins requires the same steps as for type A. The only precaution is to ensure you don’t insert the extraction tool into the rectangular hole below the pin you wish to remove.

Tips for Safe Pin Removal from Automotive Wire Harnesses

  • Look for the right tools for the job.
  • Depin the connector gently. If the wire refuses to come out, back off the extraction tool by a millimeter (or two), then try to remove it again.
  • Don’t rush and force the wires out. They should come out effortlessly once the clip or plastic/metal spring clamp unlocks them.
  • Avoid using pliers to pull the cables. Feel the pressure using your fingers so that you can stop if it’s too much. Pliers can also crush the wire if it is a high gauge type (thin-diameter cable).
  • Pull the wires straight, not at an angle.
  • Note the removal order to reverse the steps when repinning.
A vehicle’s audio wiring connector

A vehicle’s audio wiring connector

Wrap Up

There you have it! Removing pins from automotive wire harnesses is as simple as doing only two steps. 

But you must be careful not to break anything because it will result in permanent damage, meaning you’ll have to get a new connector. 

So, follow the safety tips above and comment below if you encounter any difficulties. We’ll help you through the removal steps.

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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