Introduction: Car Stereo Stock Radio Fake-out

Picture of Car Stereo Stock Radio Fake-out

Use the face of your old car's stock car stereo to make a fake-out faceplate hiding your new stereo.

This Instructable was inspired by the "Fake-out Stolen Car Stereo" by sfgabe.

I drove my Chevrolet S-10 for almost ten years before finally replacing the stereo. In 1999 it seemed perfectly acceptable to have a cassette tape player. Today it's practically an obsolete piece of car audio. I had used a cassette tape adapter for my MP3 players, but when the cassette tape player broke, I had no way to enjoy my Zune in my truck. FM modulators never worked well for me.

Finally I took the plunge and got an HD Radio/CD/CD-ROM MP3 player with a auxiliary line-in port for direct connect for my Zune. The new stereo has a removable faceplate, and while the stereo itself isn't particularly expensive, I don't want someone breaking into truck and stealing the stereo just because it's not a stock radio.

I saw sfgabe's cool "Fake-out Stolen Car Stereo" Instructable and it gave me the idea to make a fake faceplate for my truck's new stereo. This faceplate is made using the original Delco radio/cassette tape player that came with the truck, some Velcro, and a lot of epoxy glue. I left half of a cassette sticking out of the tape player for added effect.

Follow along with this Instructable to see how I made my own fake-out face plate. Every car stereo will be different, but this Instructable will give you the general idea.

Please leave your comments and feedback, and be sure to share any pictures of similar projects.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Supplies

Picture of Gather Your Tools and Supplies

I used the following tools and supplies:

Stock Delco car stereo
your coolest cassette tape (Christmas with the Brady Bunch)
Velcro (or other brand) hook and loop fastener. I used the kind made for sewing onto fabric.
wire cutters
hack saw
socket wrench set
epoxy glue

Step 2: Remove the Faceplate From the Stock Stereo

Picture of Remove the Faceplate From the Stock Stereo

Using a nut driver and wire cutters, remove any screws, nuts or wires holding the faceplate to the radio body. Be careful not to crack or break the plate.

Step 3: Remove the LED Display

Picture of Remove the LED Display

Use a nutdriver and wire cutters to remove the LED display. The LED display behind the faceplate will add touch of realism to the finished product.

Be careful around the LED display. Mine was sandwiched between to tiny sheets of glass. I broke it in a couple of places, but was able to repair it using a little epoxy.

Step 4: Glue the Knobs and LED Back on to the Faceplate

Picture of Glue the Knobs and LED Back on to the Faceplate

Use epoxy glue to reattach the knobs to the front of the faceplace. Glue the LED display on the back of the faceplate, behind the lens.

Step 5: Trim the Back of the Faceplate to Reduce Its Profile

Picture of Trim the Back of the Faceplate to Reduce Its Profile

Using wire cutters or a knife, trim any protruding tabs from the back of the faceplate to reduce its profile.

Step 6: Determine How the Faceplate Will Fit Over the Stereo

Picture of Determine How the Faceplate Will Fit Over the Stereo

My first idea was to try to trim the edges and round off the corners of the old faceplate to achieve a custom fit. I took the lazy approach and decided to leave the edges square and let it fit on the outside of the opening.

Someone experienced with car stereo installations will notice that the faceplate is on the outside of the dash opening, rather than behind it. However, the cassette hanging out of the tape deck adds to the illusion that a undesirable stock radio is in the dash.

Step 7: Add a Cassette Tape to the Deck

Picture of Add a Cassette Tape to the Deck

Using a hacksaw, cut a third of the cassette tape off. Glue the tape into the deck using a liberal amount of epoxy. After the glue sets, apply even more epoxy to make a strong bond between the tape and the deck opening.

Step 8: Apply Velcro to the Dash

Picture of Apply Velcro to the Dash

I am not a fan of exposed Velcro, but I was able to slip the Velcro underneath the dash opening and make it look neat. I ran the Velcro (hook side) along the entire top of the new stereo. It turned out looking much better than I had expected.

Running the Velcro along the entire top of the stereo looks better than just putting a couple of patches.

Dry fit the Velcro to make sure it fits where you want it.

Apply a film of epoxy on the top of the stereo and slip in the Velcro, applying pressure to the Velcro to ensure a good bond.

Step 9: Apply Velcro to the Fake-out Faceplate

Picture of Apply Velcro to the Fake-out Faceplate

Cut a couple of patches of the loop side of the Velcro and glue it to the back of the faceplate. I had to build out the patches a bit to get a good fit against the hook side of the Velcro on the stereo.

Step 10: Attach the Fake-out Faceplate Over Your Car Stereo

Picture of Attach the Fake-out Faceplate Over Your Car Stereo

Remove the real faceplate and attach fake-out faceplate over the car stereo.


zomfibame (author)2013-10-07

very cool idea; I did a similar thing once. I ended up replacing the velcro (like how you did it) with magnets because in the heat of summer, the velcro's glue became gummy, and it kept falling off.

how did you attach the magnets?

With velcro!

DriX (author)2012-03-01

One thing i've always wanted to do was to hide a fire extinguisher with an electrovalve and a hose pointing to the driver's seat with an alarm to trigger it. So when someone breaks into the car he/se gets a bath of extinguisher poo-poo.
In fact I think sometime I'll actually do it.

xaenon (author)DriX2013-11-19

A would-be thief is likely to trash the car out of spite for this. Just sayin'.

ke4mcl (author)2013-03-28

Nicely done. The display on the delco radio is a vacuum florescent, not led. They are glass so be careful removing it. GM still uses those displays on many of their car radios.

l8nite (author)2011-11-07

Years ago I owned an auto repair shop, one of our regular customers drove a small honda from New York City to our area for work on the bottom of both front windows was a sign that said, "Doors are unlocked, no radio or change in car, PLEASE do not break my windows" at that time the portable audio system of choice was a walkman...sorry for your loss... = (

scottredd (author)2010-03-25

Ah, if only I had followed my own advice.  I haven't been using my fake faceplate.  I went to my truck yesterday only to find the side vent window smashed and a gaping hole in the dash.

So for maybe $5 worth of meth for some toothless junkie, I get a $500 bill to replace the window.  All this trouble for a very low end replacement radio.

lmvlobos (author)scottredd2011-11-07

When I drove my little red convertible sports car, I never locked the doors, and never left anything inside that appeared to be valuable.
The reason being, the cheap radio costs about $99 buck US, the inexpensive fabric top costs $300 US plus labor to install. So, let the thief open the unlocked door to steal the $99 radio, and not have to smash glass, or cut the cloth top to get in, so he / she can also steal the $99 radio.

Sgt.Waffles (author)2008-09-28

I don't know why you are worried about that cheap faceplate/stereo.

freakyqwerty (author)Sgt.Waffles2011-08-05

Some people don't like having to replace their radio/faceplate every week.

PSPerson (author)freakyqwerty2011-08-07

or paying for a new window if the thief uses ninja rocks...

Lorddrake (author)2011-08-05

bonus points for the marsha marsha marsha reference :)

mrm1776 (author)2010-02-02

I liked this article. I work in the car audio industry and I've done a few similar jobs for customers, but it usually just involved blacking out the radio... not using the original face. I like this idea a lot. One thing you could try, instead of the velcro is to use magnets behind the dash kit... they will need to be pretty strong magnets. Just hot-glue or superglue them behind the dash kit and put some magnets on the back of your stock face plate. That way when you've got the faceplate removed you're not stuck looking at that ugly hook and loom. :-)

groovy (author)mrm17762010-11-05

If you ever have worked near audio you would know the last thing you ever put near a cd player or cassette deck is a magnet.....

SwishMaxx (author)groovy2011-08-04

the cassette deck.. .. doesn't work anymore.....

mrm1776 (author)groovy2010-11-06

Cassette decks? yes... CD players? No. If that were the case then we'd still be using mu metal foil in the car audio world. But I have NEVER had to wrap a CD player in mu foil. CD players operate off of optics, not magnetic heads.

mailmanbam (author)2009-01-12

stealing car stereos :S iv only seen that on short curcuit

chicoboy (author)mailmanbam2009-05-01

This could've saved me 3 years ago. I just put in a new Sony Xplode deck and moved to the city. My first night I didn't unpack anything. When I was leaving for work the next morning, my window was broken and my Stereo, amp, speakers, movies, and games were gone. I know what you're gonna say and yes, the stuff was on the floor and covered. The flashy stereo attracted the thief. As an added bonus, they left the doors and the glove box open and killed my battery so I was late for work.

amplex (author)chicoboy2009-07-01

shortly after i had moved to a new apartment in the city around 98 or so, i left my jetta unlocked on accident one night, only to find out the next morning that my stereo and cd's had been stolen. the worst part about the cds was, i am a musician and some of the music was irreplacable, old band demos & self recorded stuff. 5-10 years of music gone. I still had a woofer and amp in the trunk that they didnt take or didnt realize was there, but I would have traded that for my cds back in a SECOND!!! I felt like crying when I found out they stole my music. After that I started using audiograbber to rip every CD anally.

afartinthewind (author)amplex2011-01-08

key word, unlocked

kt2112 (author)mailmanbam2009-11-09

lmao, "ya man ,i've seen one of those.. i think its a Mitsubishi" lol hreat movie

twocvbloke (author)2010-08-09

Thieves will take anything from a car that they can get into, I once left a dead AM radio on the passenger seat of a car I briefly had (a junker, no way in heck it was going back on the road), next morning, radio gone. No loss though, cos it was a free radio, it didn't work, and I just laughed.... :P

Still, great idea if I can ever own a car again, though given my lack of use of radios or anything in vehicles, I'd probably pull the thing out and blank off the radio slot, and in this day and age a head unit with all the bells and whistles just seems a waste, just need an amp with the audio controls and a connector for a music player (not necessarily an iPooed), simple... :)

icanhaszombie (author)2010-05-06

 definitely agree with the previous poster, you could pick up some rare earth magnets from The Shack for cheap, they would easily hold it through the dash kit.

misterectomy (author)2008-10-06

If I'm going to remove the new faceplate to put the fake faceplate on then what's the point of the fake faceplate? No one is going to steal a stereo that's missing the faceplate. Most if not all stereo face plates are coded to work only with the stereo they came with.

qtm (author)misterectomy2008-11-14

Because thieves know that most people will just leave the faceplate in the glovebox or under the seat. It takes a thief 30 seconds to break in and check the glove box and under the seat. It takes maybe a minute to pry the stereo out of the dash. The chances of getting caught are so slim that there's almost no risk for the thieves. Really, there's nothing to lose and everything to gain. Even if they don't steal the stereo, the damage is already done. It will cost you a couple hundred to replace the broken window. At least once a week, I see a car with a broken window, glass on the street, or a new window will the grease marker stock number on it. Once in a while I see half a stereo hanging out, minus faceplate, meaning the thief broke in, found the faceplate, and tried to get stereo out but couldn't. It's a great idea, I was thinking after my car got broken into and they damaged the stereo trying to remove it. Instead I put the stock stereo back in and got an iPod, and make sure I don't the ipod in the car or leave any evidence that there ever was an ipod in the car.

acer5050 (author)qtm2009-09-12

I ran a sub and rca jacks to my stock stereo with adapters for my ipod touch and xm radio..... when I leave its just a 1987 radio

mrm1776 (author)acer50502010-02-02

But a true audiophile wouldn't be happy with this set up. Your 1987 radio probably pushes out 10 watts RMS per channel tops. Aftermarket decks push out 18-22 watts RMS per channel. That's a big increase. Plus aftermarket decks have low-level pre-outs. This makes for much better sound quality as it reduces noise instead of using a line-out converter which converts high-level outputs to low-level.  And then there's the issue of equalizers. Stock radios have at most a 3 band equalizer. Most aftermarket radios have no less than 5 bands. This gives you more control over your sound. Plus a lot of aftermarkets have high and low-pass filters. This is also known as a crossover. This allows you to restrict the frequencies going to speakers. So if you have a sub you'd want to apply a low-pass filter to the sub so that it keeps the higher frequencies from going to the sub which allows the sub to fire more efficiently. And then you'd want to apply a high-pass filter to the speakers to keep the bass from going to the speakers. Bass distorts small speakers, so by blocking the bass you can crank the volume higher without getting distortion.

can you buy a tape from market now? long time no see.

acer5050 (author)deccctv-Tracy2009-09-12

Yeh.... you can buy them anywhere...! BP I work for sells'em they are cover charging but hey they've got em

acer5050 (author)misterectomy2009-09-12

The plates can be replaced they do make them...... and you can buy them for any radio

Not true; they have never been "coded" - it's just a falsehood perpetrated by the industry to discourage thievery. Knowledge based on 20 years in the industry.

samuraiclinton (author)2010-02-02

creative deception.

Koil_1 (author)2008-10-31

This is pure genius. You would be surprised how many people will steal a head unit without a faceplate on it thinking they can just get another one for it. The thing is if their dumb enough to steal in the first place, chances are they haven't taken the time to think about the finer points of the workability of the device. I've personally known this to happen as I'm an installer and have assisted people in replacing their stolen properties. This is an excellent way to stop that from happening. Though there are a few criminals out there who will take a stock stereo, they are far fewer than those who would snag an aftermarket unit. This is nothing less than brilliant. I commend you for a sweet idea. This is something I'm going to pass on to my customers. The only thing I would do different is to use posts and rubber grommets to hold the fake in place. Less chance of foreign material getting caught in it and fouling the connection. It might be a little cleaner looking too in the final install.

Glockenator (author)Koil_12009-12-20

you might want to file down the corners too so it dosent look like its outside the dash. then it would look like its actually in the dash in its original stock position

Sandisk1duo (author)2009-07-10

you should modify it so that you can keep your faceplate on, under the stock radio

Lego man (author)2009-05-22

You're lucky that your '99 S-10 had a cassette player. I have a 2002 and it only has a radio :( But hey, thanks for they instructable, it seems like i can really use it! :D

BUGBYTE (author)2009-05-22

There are tons of faceplates cheap on ebay spend 30 or 40 dollars on a 500 deck good deal. just saying.

Fasteners (author)2009-01-19


osgeld (author)2008-07-07

no hard feelings, it happens to all of us :)

 (author)osgeld2008-11-08

(removed by community request) Darn it community!!! Great Instructable, though.

jdtwelve12 (author)2008-10-23

There's no chance of me ever doing this Instructable, but if I did, I'd add two this: 1. I'd look for a way to wire up a working digital clock to that digital faceplace. 2. I'd put another piece of velcro under the dash on the passenger side to hang this piece of silliness out of the way while not in use. Still dig the Instructable, though.

azerbaijanman (author)2008-07-09

Dude. Do you ever worry that car thieves read instructables?

jdtwelve12 (author)azerbaijanman2008-10-23

Sure they do. They cruise around shady neighborhoods late at night, and they break into any cars that have the Brady Christmas cassette prominently displayed. Anybody who'd listen to that has got to be hiding something. :) Real neat Instructable, though; heavy on cool factor, light on practicality, but a double points for keeping it fun. Nicely done!

Derin (author)azerbaijanman2008-10-04

no because they are too busy stealing stuff and digging the jail floor with a spoon

Kroozerdave (author)2008-07-18

Having had a faceplate less stereo stolen out of my Ute (Aussie for truck) I see his point the person who steals something they can't use is just as likely not to bother with old stock option. At least not if there is another more Bling version visible on someone else's.

wierd idiot (author)Kroozerdave2008-10-10

Hold on a sec, a ute is not a truck. A ute is a car with a tray added. A truck is much, much larger than a ute. Sorry but i had to piont this out. Nothing personal.

jdtwelve12 (author)wierd idiot2008-10-23

In the words of the immortal Fred Gwynne: "Did you say 'yutes?!' What, is a 'yute'?"

jillg (author)2008-10-17

congratulations!!!!! ur in popsci magazine oct. issue. goood for u

Lokisgodhi (author)2008-10-11

Love the sawn in half tape. Great attention to detail.

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