As a car owner who takes pride in doing his own repairs, my articles focus on helping other vehicle owners handle DIY projects.
Broken Wire Harness Connectors
In all my DIYs, I always stress the need to be gentle when removing these clips. And sure enough, when I went to take pictures for my temp sensor article, I got a little too eager and broke the clip right off.
I had also broken one of the coil clips many years ago, but the wire harness stayed on just fine so I never worried about it. This time I was not so lucky. (If you do have a broken clip on the coil connection. and do not feel like spending $30 and doing this repair, you can always use a zip tie to keep it in place).
This DIY covers how to replace the connection housings from the wires to the sensor, or coil, or whatever part you happened to break off the connection to. The part number should be the same for MKIV and the newer MKV Jetta and GTI models as well as Audis and Passats. But, as always, make sure you verify the part number with your local dealership before you buy the part.
I will be doing the repair here on a temperature sensor plug, but it will be the same operation for the other connections as well. If I ever break down and buy a new coil connection, I will upload pictures for that connector too.
Tools Needed for the Job
This DIY can be done with household items. If you plan on going all out, you can buy a specialty tool called a "Terminal Release Tool" for $70 to $110 that has the same effect as using a standard paper clip.
- A paper clip
- Hammer or vise grips
- Needle-nose pliers (optional)
- Small flathead screwdriver
- Replacement part
Depending on which clip you broke, the most common housings are part numbers 4B0-973-724 and 4B0-973-712.
- 4B0-973-724 is the connection for the Mass Air Flow Sensor, coils, and the like, and runs around $30 each from the local dealership.
- 4B0-973-712 is the smaller plug used for the Temperature sensor, AIT sensor, Throttle Body and like connections. That part will run about $12 at the dealership.
These plugs can also be ordered online from ECS Tuning for about $18 and $9.
Let's MacGyver This B!!
Yeah, welcome back to the '80s. If you decided against the hundred-dollar tool, then it's time to make your own out of a paper clip.
For the larger connections (MAF or coil), use a large paper clip; for the smaller connections (temp sensor), use a small paper clip. Start by flattening the ends with a hammer or vise grips. Then curve the clip around till the two ends are a few mm apart. Look at the "tools" picture above for reference. Yes, that's it. So save your pen and rubber band for another day, my fellow MacGyver fans.
How to Replace Broken Wire Harness Connectors
To be honest, this is a quick and simple DIY, but it is a pain in the butt the first time you do it. If you are changing the larger (MAF or coil) connection, it should be a little easier.
Step 1. The first thing you want to do is remove the pink/purple clip inside of the harness. It slides out very easily, so use very little pressure. It also helps to place some newspaper under whatever connector you're working on, so you don't drop these little pieces into the engine bay.
Step 2. The black hose that covers all the wires has a little clamp on it to keep it tight. It really helps later on to take this off and pull out the wires. You can remove it easily with your fingernail or a small screwdriver. See below.
Step 3. Take your homemade tool and wedge it in on both sides of the connection pin (see below). The trick is to get it in deep enough to bend down the little tabs that are holding it in place. I'd estimate about a half centimeter in.
Step 4. With your tool in place, pull on the wire from the back side till it releases. It will take a little persuasion, but don't rip it out with all your force (see diagram below for a better example of how the wire connections look). You're trying to release it without breaking off the tabs. You can also use your needle-nose pliers to get a good elongated grip on the wire.
The tabs or prongs are in there to hold the wire in place. To release the wire from the harness, you push or bend these tabs down slightly. These little tabs can be carefully opened back up with a penknife or small Swiss army knife before they are re-inserted into the new harness. Don't bend them too much, as they are thin metal, and break easily like everything else VW/Audi makes. If you do break the tab off of one side, don't be overly concerned; it will still stay in place once inserted into the harness.
Step 5. Once all the wires have been released (two or four, depending on the plug) you can bend back the tabs slightly, so the wire will hold firm in your new connector. You can use a penknife to slightly bend them out. The last photo shows the tabs, although the resolution is not that great.
Step 6. Push the pins back into your new plug with your fingers, or with pliers if that helps. Make sure you write down which color wires come out of each hole. The plug harness will be labeled with 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Wire Harness Diagrams
These are some drawings that should help with understanding the pin connector and keeping the wires in proper order.
For the temperature sensor, the colors are:
- Brown with white stripe
- Green with yellow stripe
- Brown with blue stripe
Even on my own car, I have different colors going to the 1, 2, 3, 4 on the coil, so make sure you write down what color is going to what connection before you pull out the wires.
- Red, blue/white
- Brown/tan, black/red
- Blue, dark brown/yellow
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2011 Writen4u
Robert Cowper on March 31, 2020:
My 1999 Audi A6 Quattro 2.8 ltr.engine has a 3 plug -in ( the wireing..Black...Yellow.. and Blue/Black only the4... My question is that i want to splice ot to a VW Passat map sensor that i was told was combatible to my Audi A6 Quattro 2.8ltr. Wagon,but it wont work because the ( VW Passat map is a 4plug) and the wires that are colored ..(Purple/Blue or gray..Green/Black..Green/Yellow..Green. How do i splice the 4 plug colored wires to where the 3 plug now sits in order to make the plug match and seat together??
Joe in Texas on February 12, 2020:
This was a life saver!! Thanks man!
Monwabisi Dyani on October 29, 2019:
Just sorted my problem thanks
Writen4u (author) on September 13, 2019:
Thanks Tempest. I'm glad it helps. I try to be as detailed as possible as I end up coming back to my own write ups to do repairs.
Thanks for the comment.
Tempest on September 12, 2019:
Superb write up! The actual picture of the paper clip in use was hard to see that it went in the same hole on opposite sides BUT your added picture of “wire connection diagram” shows how the paper clip is used was EXTREMELY helpful to me! Thank u for sharing this, your description & detail on the process was the best one I have seen on this subject!!!
Rick on July 31, 2019:
2007 vw beetle when replacing rpm/ camshaft sensor 2 of the 3 wires on the engine harness side of the connector broke off. I used this method to get prongs out of the connector. Ordered new prongs from Id parts online. First prongs I ordered were to small but after a phone call to Id parts they sent the correct size already attached to wires. I cut existing engine harness wires and soldered new wires with prongs to them reinserted into connector and bingo beetle fired right up no more no starting and check engine lights. Never could have done it without finding this page. Lots of thanks for taking the time to post
Hector Espinoza on July 13, 2019:
It worked! I could pull out both contacts from ABS connector, but your right, the first time repair is not as good as I wished, but I've learned something new and useful. Thanks
Steve on June 20, 2019:
My oxygen sensor connectors got ripped off. I need to know what wires i put together. From car i have yellow red/white red/black and blue. On sensor i have 2 greys and black and a white wire. Can anyone help me out.
Writen4u (author) on May 31, 2019:
I do not, but an online search for the Bentley manual link should help out.
Ron on May 08, 2019:
Great writeup, used your tips to fix the headlight harness in my golf mk4
GavinCB on March 15, 2019:
Do you have a pin layout and wiring colour for the 4 pin wheel speed sensor at the body on a S4 B6 Audi.?
Joseph on July 01, 2018:
I have a 2007 Z18XER Astra with code P0102 MAF circuit malfunction I need to know if u can help me with the wires which of the four wires is the earth (1) is mauve (2) is red and green (3) is green and white and (4) is blue and red I read a thread which says that you can double earth the wire and the dash light will go off because there could be a bad earth between the MAF and the ECU
Thanks so much in advance , hope that someone can help
reynaldo mas on May 13, 2018:
great information, i was changing my temp sensor on my vw Passat 03, but replacing it i broke my plug, now my temp gauge isn't working stays all the way to the left.Im ordering a new plug and try de pinning the old one, hopefully i get it done, thanks the great job with this information
Bateman on January 20, 2018:
Thanks for this article. I completely broke the tab off my temp sensor plug on a golf 4 TDI. Should the plug stay on the sensor ok a few days without being clipped secure, until I can get the part in?
Threethumb on September 20, 2017:
Great tutorial ,was very helpful, needed this info about how to replace the wires in the correct position and I got it from you thanks much.
Ryan on February 23, 2015:
Thanks a lot for writing up this DIY. I replaced two of my connectors tonight and having read this before tackling them the process was pain free. Really appreciate it.
Writen4u (author) on November 22, 2014:
You can buy them from the parts counter at any VW/Audi dealership or online from such companies like ecstuning.
geow on November 15, 2014:
where do you buy them from?
Writen4u (author) on December 28, 2013:
If you fully broke it off, I would try a small jewelry screwdriver under the broken piece/tap. Push forward on the plug, slide the thin flathead under there and pop it off. Keywords "Push forward on the plug" If not you will not be able to remove the harness. the only other way to get up in there without an awkward position is to take the bumper off to remove the headlight. Ten minutes of staring at it and another 3 minutes of work should get it off.
Tyler on December 26, 2013:
Great tutorial :). I happened to break the clip off the wire harness connecting into the headlight assembly. Any advice getting this dang thing out after breaking off the little release tab? It doesn't help considering the awkward positioning.
Writen4u (author) on April 06, 2013:
The trick to unplugging them is push the plug down, grip the little clip with your thumb then pull up and they come off nice and easy. Once you touch these things with a screw driver they break. After you figure it out on a few plugs the technique works nicely.
Pticru on April 02, 2013:
Thanks for your great DIYs, been a great help for my car! So HOW does one unplug these d-plug things in the first place, and avoid breaking?! I put a small screwdriver in and try pushing down, pulling up and twisting-- all do nothing! I think I've broken every one of these I've touched on my motor: maf, temp sensor... and yesterday I changed out the thermostat (one hell of a job) and of course broke the clip on the alternator connector. Haven't had to rewire anything yet though, as they all seem to stay put even with the harness plugs broken... makes me mad at myself though!
Writen4u (author) on August 17, 2011:
Thanks for the comment.
nader on August 17, 2011:
wnderful help written with pation thanks