If the wrong-sized wire is used, or if a wire becomes broken or disconnected, this can cause an accidental short circuit which bypasses the resistance of the component. The current in the wire may become dangerously high and melt the wire or cause a fire.
This is called a negative earth system, and when buying an electrical accessory a radio, for example check that it is of a type suitable for your car system. Fitting a radio with the incorrect polarity will damage the set, but most car radios have an external switch for setting the polarity to suit that of the car. Switch to the correct setting before fitting.