The Difference Between OEM and Professional Level Wiring – Using Deutsch DTM Connectors

DTM connectors

3-pin DTM

Apex Speed Technology has long used Deutsch DTM connectors in our professional level harnesses because when it comes to durability and value, they’re a class onto themselves.  There are many innovations to DTM connectors that aren’t apparent to most people, but when it comes to durability, assembly and repeated use, they really shine compared to what’s on most cars or the common “weatherpak” and “metripak”connectors you see from hot-rod shops.

The benefits of a Deutsch DTM connector start at initial assembly and last well into the service limits of the vehicle.  Let’s take a look at some of the features that make these so well-suited to high-performance or custom wiring harnesses:

  1. Construction – DTM connectors use a high-current pin (7.5A) with a very specific crimping tool.  The pin has small details like an inspection window so you can make sure the wire is inserted properly.  The crimp tool ensures that the exact same crimp gets done every time.  When you push the pins in, you can visually see that the pin is past the locking tab, and the pin lock won’t go in unless its done right.  This way, you can be confident that whether this is the 1st or 1000th DTM pin you assemble, it will have the same, reliable crimp.  A design that makes connector assembly consistent is very important to ensure that your harness building isn’t dependent on your morning coffee!  Since project cars are all-too often built at odd hours, you don’t want to discount the value of this.
  2. Verification of proper connection – When you connect 2 DTM halves, they click.  This is not an afterthought – its by design.  They won’t click if they’re not connected properly.  Also, the locking tab sits in the “down” position unless the proper contact is made.  There is no way to get the locking tab to be up and the connector not properly latched.  What does this mean to you?  If you can’t see a connector that you’re assembling, the sound and feel will tell you its properly connected.  When you can’t get your hands on them, if you can see the tab(s), you know its connected.  For 8 and 12-way connectors there are 2 tabs to check.
  3. Sealing – The orange seal, when used with the proper wire size, is completely fluid-proof.  Unlike seals that crimp on the wire, the quality is not a function of how well you use a crimp tool.  This ensures quality weatherproofing every time.
  4. Strain relief – That orange seal doesn’t just keep fluids and dirt out.  It also serves as a strain relief – the length of the seal and position of the crimp ensures that no matter how the wire is twisted, a minimum amount of force is actually transferred to the crimp.
  5. Mechanical integrity – the locking tabs are designed to take a minimum of 15lb of force per contact.  This means that as long as your wire crimps are strong, these connection can take a lot of abuse.
  6. Connect/Disconnect cycles – Here’s a newsflash for some of you:  many automotive connectors aren’t rated for more than 10 connection cycles.  That means that simply plugging in and unplugging the connector 10 times causes enough wear to compromise their integrity.  We constantly are seeing problems with fuel injector & coil connectors on racing vehicles that are not up to the task – they have to be replaced every few races.  DTM connectors are nominally rated for 100 contact cycles, but in practice we’ve had harnesses in the field for nearly a decade of regular service with no appreciable wear.
  7. Environmental durability – These connectors can handle extreme temperatures from -67 to 250+F, they are extremely chemical resistant and can handle very high-frequency vibrations.

These connectors typically bring connection costs down to $2-3 per pin.  Considering that electrical connections are responsible for a large percentage of failures on both stock and racing vehicles, using them is a very wise investment.  If you assemble them using the proper tools, take care to make a few simple checks when you connect them, and use them in their rated environment, you can rest assured that your connections will be robust!  Apex sells them individually or as a kit so let us know how we can help.

About Neel

President of Apex Speed Technology
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