3 Wire Dryer Cord, No Colors

When you need to change your dryer’s cord but discover that the new cord isn’t color-coded, it can turn an otherwise fun DIY project into a nightmare. What do you do then?

To connect a 3-wire dryer cord that is not color-coded, always connect the middle wire to the middle terminal of the dryer with the flat-facing side of the cable laying on the terminal block. The two flanking wires should then be connected to the two terminals on either side of the middle terminal.

In this article, I’ll look at ways to identify the wires even if they’re not color-coded. I’ll also provide a brief step-by-step guide on how to connect these wires correctly.

What To Do if Your Dryer Cords Have No Colors

If you’ve found yourself with a 3-wire dryer cord with no color code, you may have a (justifiable) concern that messing it up would cause a damaged dryer. Luckily, the solution to the problem is quite simple. 

3 wire dryer cord, no colors

How To Install a 3-Wire Dryer Cord With No Color Code

  1. Get an appropriately sized screw or nut driver and the 3-wire dryer cord. If the dryer has no cord attached, you can go right to the next step. If, however, it has a cord attached, make sure it’s unplugged.
  2. Unscrew the screws from the terminal block access panel and remove the panel to reveal the terminal block. Be sure to unscrew them carefully, so they don’t drop into the dryer. If they drop in, you may need to loosen the entire back cover to get them.
  3. If no wires are already connected to the terminal block, move on to step 5. If wires are connected, unscrew and disconnect them.
  4. Loosen the strain relief and pull out the wire. Leave the strain relief in place if you intend to reuse it. Skip to Step 6.
  5. For a dryer with no wires already connected, insert the strain relief that came with your cord into the cable entry hole just below the opening to the terminal. Place the screws for the strain relief into their holes and tighten them just enough to keep the two halves together and in place.
  6. Insert the new 3-wire dryer cord through the cable entry hole, ensuring the wires are laid out flat without intertwining.
  7. Screw the wires on securely, ensuring that the middle wire is connected to the middle terminal.
  8. Tighten the strain relief to secure the cord.
  9. Replace and secure the terminal block access panel.

If you correctly followed the steps above, your dryer cord should be connected, and your dryer should start working. 

You can watch this video for a visual guide: 

How To Identify the Wires in a 3-Wire Dryer Cord With No Colors

Electrical wires are usually color-coded to facilitate proper connection. However, you’ll also find plenty of 3-wire electrical cables with no color coding. This can be confusing if you’d rather do simple reconnections.

To help you identify the wires in a no-color 3-wire dryer cord, here are a couple of important points to remember:

There Are Three Crucial Connection Points

Check the wiring connection points on your dryer’s terminal block. These are the L1, N (Neutral), and the L2. The fourth point where the 4th wire in a 4-wire cable is connected is usually the ground or earth, which is generally attached to the body of the dryer.

On a 3-wire cable, the middle wire will always be neutral 

This is the most crucial point to note because the two wires that flank the neutral wire are both “hot” and can therefore be used interchangeably on either of the two side terminals.

Each of the wires in a 3-wire cord can be identified even without the color code. The middle wire is, well, in the middle, and it’ll be generally flanked by one ribbed wire and one smooth wire.  

When connecting to your dryer, the neutral is the middle wire. This is because your dryer requires four connecting points, so it has two “hot” or “live” wires, which are the two side wires, making the middle wire neutral. A different wire will usually connect the ground.

To see a visual explanation, watch this video: 

Replacing a 4-Wire Cord With a 3-Wire Cord

In some cases, you may open the terminal cover of your dryer only to discover that the cord you want to replace has four wires instead of the three that your replacement wire has.

Don’t worry. Remember how the wires are classified if there are 4 of them in a cord rather than 3?

replacing wires

To replace a 4-wire cord with a 3-wire one, focus only on the wires connected directly to the terminal block. Those are the two hot wires – L1 and L2 – with the neutral wire in the center.

If the cord you want to change has 4 wires, you’ll notice that when you open the terminal block access panel, the center or neutral terminal has two wires connected to it. One of the wires will be from the cord, while the second wire will be from within the dryer.

I outlined how to install a 3-wire dryer cord with no colors, which you should follow to replace a 4-wire cord with a 3-wire one. 

Now, return to the free wire from within the dryer, which was previously connected to the neutral terminal. This wire will now be connected to the point from where you disconnected the ground wire. This should be directly on the dryer’s body around the terminal block access panel area.

You can watch this video for a visual explanation: 


Connecting a 3-wire dryer cord minus the colors shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. Just remember that the middle wire is the neutral one, while the two side wires are “hot” and interchangeable. If there are four wires, the fourth will be connected directly to the ground. 

If you need help installing this type of wire, I’ve already outlined the specific steps on how to do so. Of course, if you’re still unsure at this point, it’s always a good idea to contact a professional to do it for you.