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Where is The Engine Ground Wire Located?

In essence, there is no true ground wire in a car. However, the standard terminology used to describe the common return on a car is ground. Usually, wires that thread from specific electrical items such as radios, batteries, and motors, are termed “ground wire(s)”. In modern vehicles, the negative wire from the negative terminal on a car’s battery can as well be termed ground wire.

The above does not include the main battery in an EV which is a different case.

We will go into more detail below.

The Location of The Ground Connections, Wires, and Surfaces in A Car

Not all vehicles have the same type of grounding. Some have ground wires while others do not. The following are possible grounding techniques in various vehicles.


The Body of The Car – Body Ground

Generally, the car’s body is on the ground. The connection is made to the body of the car from every single device in the vehicle.

Either by wire or bolt via the bodywork. Alternatively, the metal devices can be connected directly to the car’s bodywork – the ground.

mechanic holding a ground wire
Video | Paged Out, LLC

So, for virtually all vehicles the body is the ground because of the body and the chassis form the return path of the circuits.

Note: Vehicles with non-conductive bodies and chassis need extra wires or pigtails to connect to the common return.


Ground Wire Metals

ground wire metals
Video | Paged Out, LLC

In essence, there is no true ground wire in a car.

However, the standard terminology used to describe the common return on a car is ground.

Usually, wires that thread from specific electrical items such as radios, batteries, and motors, are termed “ground wire(s)”. In modern vehicles, the negative wire from the negative terminal on a car’s battery can also be called the ground wire. But that does not include the main battery in an EV which is a different case.


Positive Grounded Systems

While most vehicles have negatively grounded chassis and bodies, some antique cars have positively grounded parts or systems.


Color-Code (The Green Wire)

You can use the conventional color code to pinpoint the ground wire in your car. Usually, the green wire represents the ground. However, the green wire can serve other purposes. And it is not a reliable way of identifying the ground wire and connections.


Grounding Straps and Chains

grounding straps and chains

Some vehicles use grounding chains to curb static sparks from causing damage. Fuel tankers use grounding chains.

Military tankers use the ground clamp to discharge static sparks between vehicles before attaching to the fuel line. (1, 2)

Take a look at some of our related articles below.




References
(1) military tanker – https://www.britannica.com/technology/tank-military-vehicle
(2) static sparks – https://theconversation.com/static-electricitys-tiny-sparks-70637

Video Reference

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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