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Car Stereos and the Importance of Standards

I’ve had an old Subaru (1996) Liberty since around 2003. I love the old thing, and it has never missed a beat or needed much spent on it at the workshop. It just keeps going and going and I’ve never felt the need to upgrade it. However, after driving other cars with Bluetooth stereos I really miss this luxury when I jump back into my old car. This has prompted me to upgrade my car stereo to a Bluetooth enabled one.

For a few unavoidable reasons this proved to be a frustrating process (mostly stemming from the car being stolen around ten years back and certain parts being taken that I can’t replace). However my biggest frustration has been the lack of standardisation in wiring that I was totally unaware of. Car stereo manufacturers do not subscribe to a standard plug for all the various wires that are required. Hence, the installation requires the time consuming task of stripping down fourteen wires on both the car side and the stereo side and re-connecting them.

As I did this I thought about all the options that could be available and tried to work out why none of them had been done. The most confusing thing is that there is rigorous colour coding, which is standard across all cars (yellow for power, purple for front left speakers, green for back left etc). Given this step has already been taken it seems strange there isn’t a standard plug. If that isn’t possible, the wires could have individual plugs, which could map to a similar plug in the car.

The software industry struggles with issues of standardisation too. Fenwick Gold was born out of discussions between our consultants each of whom had solved the same problem multiple times in different ways. Supporting a client meant first understanding how the problem was solved the first time around. With Fenwick Gold, these issues have been solved in a standard way across all our clients, which means that support for Gold functionality is negligible and upgrades to new versions are plug compatible.

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