Rewire a Car Cost: How Much Should You Budget For?

In this article, we will explain the rewire a car cost and the factors affecting these costs. 

All vehicles have electrical transmission lines consisting of wire harnesses, terminals, connectors, etc., to run sensors, lights, cameras, and other accessories/peripheral electrical components. 

With time, these lines can degrade, tear, get chewed by rodents, or incur other damages that disrupt the electrical power supply. 

So you might have to rewire the entire vehicle or part of it. Let’s break down these costs of rewiring below.

Table of Contents

Signs of a Faulty Car Wiring

Before getting into the rewiring costs, look for these signs of faulty vehicle electrical wiring.

The Engine Won’t Crank

If the engine does not crank when you turn on the ignition key, the issue is usually in the electrical system. 

The possible causes are a failing alternator, a bad battery, faulty wiring, or a broken starter relay switch. But the fault is usually mechanical if the engine cranks and does not start.

Continuous Fuse Blowing

All modern vehicles have fuse boxes for safeguarding the power connection to electrical components using blade fuses

These fuses can break naturally due to wear or burn if there are electrical faults along the power lines.

A car fuse box

A car fuse box

So you might have to replace one or two once in a while. But if one fuse keeps blowing continuously after a short period, an underlying electrical issue exists that probably needs rewiring.

Headlights Don’t Work

Headlights are crucial components for night driving. If they don’t work, it could be an issue with the lighting elements inside or faulty electrical wiring. 

You can use a tester or multimeter to check if the voltage or current reaches the headlight’s wiring harness connector plug.

Burning Plastic Smell

Car wire harnesses have plastic insulations that can melt if hot. 

So if there is an issue like shorting, the excessive current drain will make the wires hot, burning the insulation.

 We recommend turning off your car immediately if you detect this smell because it can cause a fire.

Charred wires in a car caused by short-circuiting

Charred wires in a car caused by short-circuiting

Dashboard Battery Light Turns On

The battery light on the dashboard indicates a faulty battery. But if the voltage across the battery terminals is okay, check the battery wires. 

You might also notice all the dashboard lights flickering, sometimes accompanied by abrupt power losses to any one of the electrical components.

Average Cost of Rewiring

Depending on factors like the vehicle’s age, the actual cost of rewiring an entire car can range from $1,200 to $1,500, making the average price about $1,350. 

But in most cases, you will only have to repair damaged sections, not the entire system.

So here’s an electrical system breakdown to help you determine the cost of replacing the damaged parts in your vehicle.

Rewire a Car Cost: Wiring Harness

Wiring harnesses are the bulk of the system. Modern vehicles can have up to 40 electrical harnesses consisting of over 3,000 individual wires and 700 connectors. 

These harnesses weigh about 60 kg and can stretch up to five kilometers.

Multiple car wire harnesses

Multiple car wire harnesses

So replacing this part is more expensive than the rest. The cost can range from $1,000 to $1,500 ($1,300 average), and it covers all the harnesses and their accessories (terminals, connectors, mounts, etc.).

Rewire a Car Cost: Fuses and Relays

Fuses are relatively cheap compared to wire harnesses. Car fuses for low-end vehicles can cost under $20, while relays can set you back around $40. 

But for high-end cars, fuses can cost as much as $120 and $150 for relays. These components rarely get damaged, especially as a whole. 

So you will only have to replace one or two if there is an electrical issue.

The most popular cars in the US are the Toyota Camry, Ford F-150, Honda CR-V, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Silverado, and Honda Civic. Here is the cost of their relay fuses.

Car Make and ModelFuse Relay Cost
Toyota Camry$95
Ford F-150$99
Honda CR-V$100
Toyota Corolla$95
Chevrolet Silverado$120
Honda Civic$90

These components are usually cheaper than a mechanic or electrician’s labor cost. So you can save a lot of money if you replace these components yourself. But be careful. Use the correct fuse ratings when doing replacements.

Rewire a Car Cost: Starter Relay

Next in line is the starter relay, which remotely switches on the starter when you turn the ignition key

Typical low-end starters can cost $70, increasing up to $200 for high-end models.

A car starter relay

A car starter relay

Going by the same car popularity above, here’s what you should expect to pay for a starter relay replacement.

Car Make and ModelStarter Relay Cost
Toyota Camry$120
Ford F-150$40
Honda CR-V$60
Toyota Corolla$110
Chevrolet Silverado$40
Honda Civic$70

Cost of Repairs: Other Electrical System Components

A vehicle’s electrical system also comprises batteries, battery cables, starters, and alternators. 

The prices of these components vary depending on the car make and model, but here’s the range.

  • New battery price: $220-$270
  • Replacing battery cables: $125-$400
  • Alternator replacement: $290-$680
  • New starter: $290-$995
A car alternator

A car alternator

Repair shop labor costs can be high, so check if your car is still under warranty to get free repairs. 

And if this warranty has expired, you can try doing the repairs if you are good with cars.

Factors Affecting Car Rewiring Costs

The cost of a partial or complete rewire can vary depending on the following factors.

Vehicle Make and Model

Car manufacturers implement different wiring designs in their models, and the quality of the parts and wires might not be the same. 

So rewiring costs can be high, medium, or low, depending on the wire harness quality, ease of access (affects labor costs), brand, etc.

Car Age

The wiring systems and components age and wear naturally with time. 

So there are higher chances of short circuits occurring from corroded terminals and split wires if your vehicle is over ten years old.

Also, old vehicles have less advanced wiring systems that are cheaper to repair or replace. 

But modern cars have sophisticated systems due to sensors, multiple lights, and advanced computers. 

Extent of Damages

In most cases, you don’t have to rewire the entire vehicle. So the repair cost will depend on the extent of the damage.

 For instance, if the system is kaput, the rewiring cost will be higher than when replacing a headlight wire harness.

FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Rewire a Car?

Small repair tasks can take up to an hour, but working on the entire electrical transmission lines can take up to 20 hours. 

Round it off to a day. But it can take even longer if the wires pass through hard-to-reach areas. 

It will take more time to remove the parts, panels, and mounts, then put them back in. 

Some electricians charge labor per time. So more hours at shop rates will dent your pocket.

A technician trying to find power window wire harnesses for repairs

A technician trying to find power window wire harnesses for repairs

How Long Does Car Wiring Last?

There is no specified lifespan for these electrical systems. 

They might wear out faster if you live in areas with extreme temperatures or drive in extreme conditions. 

So consider preventive maintenance by inspecting the wires, especially if your vehicle is over ten years old.

Can I Drive With Bad Wiring?

If the failure is not severe or does not affect a critical component, you can continue with your drive, then get the issue checked asap. 

For instance, if the wires that power driver assist features like lane-departure warning fail, you can still drive the old-school way.

 Classic vehicles didn’t have these features, and drivers still managed.

A lane departure warning light

A lane departure warning light

But if the wires affect critical systems like starters or pose a fire risk, go to an electrician immediately.

Wrap Up

Car rewiring costs can be high depending on the extent of damage, but it is rare to have the entire system fried. 

So remember to assess the situation first, then do the repairs. And if you can do the work, you can save the rewire expenses significantly by cutting the labor costs. 

Contact us or comment below to let us know the costs incurred when handling these repairs in your vehicle.