Introduction: Installation of an Aftermarket Stereo in a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan

Our vehicle for so many years needed a newer stereo where we could play CDs. I found a good deal on a Sumas® car stereo capable of playing CDs, AM and FM radio and an USB connection to play MP3s music. The stereo came with two connectors with wires that needed to be spliced with a second pair of connectors known as car stereo wire harness. Although some people splice the wires without the second pair of connectors, that would have made very difficult to replace the stereo in the future or troubleshoot it in the event of an electrical problem.
In my case, I needed the new aftermarket radio, the installation kit for Chrysler/Mercury/Dodge vehicles, the car stereo wire harness and, the antenna extension cable. The antenna connector on my new stereo was located on the opposite side of where the original antenna cable is. The antenna cable is not long enough, therefore the extension was needed.

Step 1: Removal of the Bezel

I consulted the Haynes Repair Manual for my vehicle and in page 11-19 a description is given to remove the bezel on the dash board. The instructions apply to vehicles made after 2001. I found the instructions somewhat vague, so I searched videos on the web about how to remove the bezel and install a new stereo. Finally I found some information to help me attempt the project. The first thing that is recommended is to lift the engine hood and disconnect the negative wire on the car battery. I then removed the ash tray at the bottom of the bezel and removed a piece of plastic right between the bezel and the ash tray. When the plastic part is removed the only two screws that hold the bezel are exposed. After removing those screws I could carefully pry the bezel with a plastic tool or a flat screwdriver with some masking tape around the tip. The bezel is held by six clips that will yield when pried. Do not pull the bezel too much. I tried to remove the connectors for the hazard lights, rear wiper, ac and heating and I was not successful in removing them. Maybe you can do better than me at removing those connectors but I was happy to have enough clearance to remove the old stereo and install the new one.
There are four screws that hold the original stereo. Also before the radio can be completely removed you have to disconnect two connectors, the antenna cable and the braided ground wire.

Step 2: Splicing the Connectors

Splicing the two pair of connectors is the most time consuming phase of the project. I used a crimper, solderless wire connectors and heat shrink tubes. I consulted the wiring diagrams of both pair of connectors and carefully matched the wires. Each car speaker has a positive and negative wire. For the most part the wires are color coded but I took precautions. I had three wires that were not needed, a blue and white wire for amp turn-on, black and white for amp ground and, an orange wire for illumination. These did not have a corresponding wire on the new stereo. Once I crimped the solderless connectors and matched each wire, I used heat shrink tubes to insulate every wire. I crimped a round connector to the ground black wire to fasten to the car’s braided ground wire.

Step 3: Installing the New Stereo

The original stereo is much larger than the new stereo. In order to complete the installation I assembled the stereo and the car stereo install kit. I only had to bend a few metal tabs to keep everything in place. Once this phase of the project was completed I proceeded to connect the wire harness, the antenna cable and the ground. To connect the ground I used a screw and a nut. I fastened the four screws for the install kit and replaced the bezel again. I connected the negative wire to the battery and then tried the stereo. I was very pleased when it was working and I could hear music.