Instructables
Picture of Installing Subwoofers in a Car
In this instructable, I will show you the whole process of installing an amplified subwoofer into a car. After you have your subwoofer system set up, you will hear much better sound from your stereo.

This process will work with most stock stereos, and all aftermarket stereos. It can be modified to work with all stock stereos, but you may need a few more parts. I will show you how to do this with an aftermarket head unit (stereo).

When you look at the pictures, realize that I am using an amplifier that is too small for the subwoofer. It is for demonstration purposes and it does not sound as good as it should. In other words, my car needs a bigger amplifier to support the subwoofer.
 
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Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts
So what will we need to do this?

-Subwoofer box
-Subwoofer speaker (see next step)
-Amplifier (see next step)
-Wiring kit (or each of the following)
-10 Gauge or thicker, 20 foot insulated wire (for power)
-10 Gauge or thicker, 3 foot insulated wire (for ground)
-18 or 16 Gauge, 15 foot wire
-RCA cables, 15 feet or longer (you need 2 or one with both red and white)
-In-line fuse, 50 amps or higher
-Some speaker wire
-4 small wood screws
-Basic tools

For the power and ground wires, you will need thicker wires depending on how powerful the amplifier is. REALLY powerful amps could need as much as a 0 gauge wire. But I doubt any of you guys will be using an amp that big.

Walmart sells amplifier kits (as do some other stores). The kits tell you how many watts they can handle.
PhilR21 month ago

After installing my amp and subwoofer into my 2000 jeep wrangler, my rear speakers (on the sound bar) are no longer working. Any ideas/sugestions?

ProvenHelper made it!6 months ago

Good write up. I've been installing subwoofers and amplifiers into my cars since I was a teenager. I once created my own wiring harness to relocate my 6 disc cd-changer from my trunk in my Mazda Millenia S to underneath my glove compartment. Recently I added a descent sub and amplifier into my 2006 Lexus GS300 for about $200 and it knocks hard enough. I didn't want to change out my headunit because the Lexus screen controls heating and cooling as well as the radio. I ended up recording a Youtube video of the entire process and people seem to like that I put in every single step into the video, much like your article.

Anyways, I'm new here, so I'm not sure how everything works yet, but here's my subwoofer and amplifier installation video that goes very well with your article.

BTW: I list all part #'s and prices in the more info section underneath my video on YouTube for all of those who also want a system on the cheap.

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Phil Dodd1 year ago
Congratulations on the enthusiastic hard work of both the author and the many contributors to this instructable.

I have to make one comment, though, which anyone installing powerful subwoofers into an automobile needs to be aware of.

Around the year 2000, the UK national Fire and Rescue service issued a nationwide advisory about people who have done just this. It is a fact of life that under the carpets of most motor cars is moisture, brought in from the outside atmosphere and trapped by the carpet. This moisture causes the metalwork of the car to rust. As the car gets older, the rusting becomes worse. Installing powerful subwoofers into an older vehicle puts a big strain upon the metal panels of the car, and the welds holding the panels together. The welds in some such vehicles involved in crashes were found to have spilt along hairline cracks, introduced by the use of subwoofers, or by panels splitting at rust points.

I'm not claiming that this will happen to your vehicle if it is old and you install subwoofers; I'm simply saying that it has been observed to happen by the UK authorities. Be careful. Regards Phil
snakedz2 years ago
My 06 sentra came with a rockford fosgate surround sound system. My subwoofer has stopped working. I have checked all my fuses and have even opened up the amp case to see if i can figure out whats wrong but nothing looks ab normal. All my other speakers work fine. So if someone had a solution please help. Another question, I have a 15' rockford sub and an amp to go with it, i want to install it into my sentra, but i have found out the stock stereo doesnt come with RCA jacks so whats is the best way to go about this? PLEASE HELP!
what's with your profile pic?
are you and all rounder?(means you don't care which os you use)
darnilius4 years ago
hey so ihave the whole subwoofer package and amps and wiring, but idont even want to try to install it myself, ijust think imight mess up, so how much would a person who knows how to install them charge me, and i know it depends but ikinda need a price range??, and btw ihave a 99 malibu if that helps..?
For the need to replace a stock radio, you do not have to do it all the time. What I have done is wired the speaker output, into the rear speakers. By doing this, you do not have to tie into the front radio, but there is also the being that all you are doing is "Upping the sound of your rear speakers and not really adding the subs to the music. From what I have seen happen is that the subs work in 2 main ways that I know of. Because some songs for example have 2 different base line so that when one you have tied in the speaker wires to the radio, you will hear something different from when you tie it into the rear speakers. Mostly I did my sound system into the rear speakers not only because I did not want to spend more time in wiring it to the radio, I was unsure on the connection to do it on, because I have an older model aftermarket radio that is already tied into a CD changer. There are other ways on doing this but from what I read from your posting, this would be the cheaper way on doing it.
I you have a stock radio you will probly need to replace it. If you have a aftermarket already installed or to be installed look at the instructions that came with it if you can put in a sub it will show you how to wire it, plus the ones with the amp you will be fine the hardest part is runing the wires, and the second hardest part is making sure the posative and negative on the amp are right other than that it should just be plug and play as it says above. (you may need to turn on the sub from within the radio but thats the only odd part on some)
Diabloscope4 years ago
IMHO ,For Your Ground you should use a ring terminal soldered to the wire , and not rely on an existing bolt , use another location , sand the surface to bare metal screw the terminal down , then solder the terminal till it is fused together , then a quick coat of spray paint ( keep from oxidation ) , you will never have a problem with Grounding and or loose bolts , other than that you did give a Simple guidelines for any novice wanting to try an amp install for the first time !
Hycro4 years ago
This is another example of where my battery isn't accessible from the main engine area, but instead has "remote" posts where a battery would normally be comes in handy, I can unbolt my positive cable (it runs between the battery and the starter, and is referred to the Positive Remote Jumper Location) crimp an o-ring connector onto the end of my amp's power wire, and bolt that on to the same spot. And as long as I hook it up correctly, there's no danger of damaging the amp or the battery if I need to jump start the car for any reason (probably from forgetting the engine isn't running and run the battery dead listening to the stereo and amp..lol)
srhadaham5 years ago
I just got 2 subwoofer from a relative and I don't know if they need an external power source, they are "pioneer spare tire subwoofers TS-WX50", also when I plug them in thru my home sterio they seem to work just fine, does anybody know if I need to add external power?
I am inpatient and plowed on, but i am glad i did because i now have two amazingly bassey subs in the rear of my Plymouth Voyager i just popped open the side panels and spliced into the two rear speakers (yes I'm quite aware that i probably did it wrong)
 huh, that actually worked? well you're supposed to always use an amp to power your subs (with the exception of a few that have an amp built into to the speaker box, but then you still need to hook them up with RCA connections and supply them with power) and ofcourse your subs will hit much harder if you do get an amp but if you happy with them the way they are then you might as well just leave them. As the saying goes "if it ain't broke don't fix it"
pretty good write up. this wood have helped me lots couple years ago. i had to learn the hard way by reading forums and instruction manuals to find out. good pix also
A lot of Stereos including mine, doesn't have an internal amplifier and i need a 5 channel amp for all my speakers and subwoofers.
First of all, Never wire your sound wires or RCA cords on the same side of the car as the power cords, that will create noise. Never ground directly to the battery, any piece of metal that connects to the chassis and is close to your amp is fine. If you are ready to get a loud car, get a 5 channel amp and some crossovers if your speakers and tweeters are separate. And if you don't have a capacitor, your lights and accessories are going to flash every time the bass hits.
good stuff :) i wondered what the 'antenna' was for! clever.. i found out it works by recieving a 12v suply to know it should be on, so i'm guna wire it to the battery and have a swith by the steering wheel :) that way i can choose whether the big speaker is on or whether just to use the stock speakers :)
bmlbytes (author)  jamesjamesjames5 years ago
You could also wire it to the antenna spot, but then put a switch on it, so you don't forget to turn off the subs and kill your battery in the process.
ah of course! cheers :)
bmlbytes (author)  jamesjamesjames5 years ago
I had it set up the way you suggested for a while. I had a few times when I needed to jump my car :)
What amp are you using? I left my bazooka 300 watt amp powered on for several days with the jeep sitting and it still cranked right over (Jeep ftw).
aunty5 years ago
You have done a very good job here young man, be proud of your accomplishment.
bmlbytes (author) 5 years ago
Nobody loves my i'ble. : (
DebH57 bmlbytes5 years ago
Awwww BMI I love it, I just came by to have a look see and found your photos and instructions incredibly clear. You make it look easy enough that even I could do it. 5 stars for you and I will be back to give you my vote when the voting starts.
zuner20125 years ago
great 'ible. It's fairly new.. so be patient. and LOVE THE i'ble!
bmlbytes (author)  zuner20125 years ago
Thank you for the comment. I posted it at night, so I assume a lot of people didn't see it while it was on the first recent page.