Introduction: Install a Car Stereo
Does your stock stereo system in your outdated car not cut it anymore? Don’t you wish you could just plug in your iPod, select your playlist and hit the road? Well if that is the case, you have come to the correct place. With my knowledge and experience in the car-audio game, I will help you upgrade your audio system all in the comfort of your own garage. I have been installing and researching car audio parts and systems since I was only 15 years old. Because I was still in high school and was working a part time job as well, I couldn’t afford to hire a professional to do all of the work for me. What I did was self-taught myself, this consisted of a lot of research, as well as a LOT of trial and error. Over the past few years, and over 30 stereo system installs, I have got this talent down to a science. Out of every audio system installed by myself, I have never had a person disappointed in my work and they have been nothing but pleased.
The very first step in upgrading your audio system is installing a brand new head unit. A head unit is also known as the cars stereo. You can choose between a double din stereo or a single din stereo, as well as touchscreen or non-touchscreen. These can run you anywhere from $50 to $400+, depending on brand, model and features. Personally, I recommend the following brands: Alpine, JL Audio, and Pioneer. The head units produced by those brands have never disappointed me and produce the best sound quality. The brands I suggest you stay away from are Boss Audio, JVC, and Pyramid. These brands produce low quality products with limited functions, they also commonly break.
Once you have your new stereo its time to take out the stock one
Step 1: Removing the Trim
In order to remove the stereo, you must first remove the plastic trim surrounding it
To do this, simply locate any screws or bolts that could be holding it in and remove them. There is also metal clips connecting it to the dash so you are going to have to pull it off the dash, be careful not to damage any parts of your dash.
Step 2: Remove the Stereo
Now that your trim is off and our stereo is exposed, remove the four bolts located in each corner of the stereo.
Once this is done, grab the face of the stereo and gently pull it out. There is going to be a wiring harness and radio antenna plugged into the back of the stereo, press down the clips on the harness and remove it from the stereo as well as the antenna.
Step 3: Dash Kit and Stereo Harness Adapter
When you finally get your new stereo removed, it is time to purchase a Dash Kit. You’re going to need to purchase one specifically designed for your vehicles make model and year. (You can find these located at your local Wal-Mart or Car Audio shop, these normally go for anywhere from $20-$50) These are needed for the new stereo to fit properly and flush in your vehicle. The next item to add to your shopping list is a Stereo Harness Adapter in order to wire up the new stereo. An Antenna Adapter may also be required depending on your type of vehicle, the Harness adapter and Antenna adapter together will run you around $20-$30.
To install your new dash kit, clip the pieces together and slide your stereo through the face of the dash kit. Screw the sides to the stereo to secure it.
Set the stereo harness adapter and antenna adapter aside as it will be saved for the next step.
Step 4: Wiring the Harness
Next step is to wire up the stereo harness adapter to the harness that was supplied with your new stereo. The wires need to be connected color to color. Each wire serves a different purpose; Red: 12v Ignition, Yellow: 12v Battery, Black: Ground, Blue: Antenna, Orange: Illumination, Brown: Mute (not required), Orange/White: Dimmer and Blue/White goes to external amplifier for subwoofers. The remaining 8 wires are the speaker wires, two for each speaker one positive and one negative. Simply wire these up color to color just as you did previously. If you plan on installing subwoofers, now would be a good time to the remote wire supplied with your wiring kit to the blue/white wire on the stereos harness. When connecting your harness wires, I recommend soldering and heat shrinking for the best connection possible. Some people simply twist their wires together and then wrap the connection with electrical tape, I would advise against this method as over time the tape will loosen up and fall off resulting in shorted connections.
Step 5: Connect the New Stereo
Now that your harness is all wired up, go ahead and clean up the wires by securing them with zip ties so you aren’t left with a huge mess of wires behind your stereo. If you plan on installing subwoofers, now would be a good time to plug in the RCA wires for the amp input into the back of the head unit.
Plug the harness and radio antenna into the back of the new stereo and connect the other end of the harness to the stock harness you unplugged from the old stereo, your stereo should now be powered and working.
Step 6: Re-Assemble Your Dash
Now that your stereo has power, play music and test all of the speakers. If they are working, you can know put your dash back together.
Screw the new stereo with the dash kit into the same spot the old stereo was located, use the original screws/bolts so secure it to the dash.
Clip the trim back together and your finally done!