How to Install a Car Stereo – Getting Everything Right

How to install a car stereo

Listening to music and getting information on the go whilst travelling may be associated mainly with smartphones but there is one more device that provides both. A car stereo may not be as advanced as a smartphone but it has been existed longer that one.

Whilst audio systems haven’t always been as advanced, back in the day they served their purpose pretty well.

Since the early 1930s, audio systems have been implemented in vehicles and they’ve come a long way when it comes to sound quality, implementations of USB ports and CDs and the latest in auto tech, operating systems.

But like any vehicle component car stereos need to be replaced when their time comes. While there are different treetops of stereos when it comes to size, going with the OEM size it’s going to be the best solution.

Related Article: How to fix a car stereo that has no sound- The Ultimate DIY Step by Step Guide

Installing a Car Stereo

Removing The Old One

First things first, before you get rid of your old car stereo you’ll need to make sure that certain things are taken care of first. A car stereo installation is a car fix that requires you to disconnect the battery, the negative cable to be exact and have the parking brake on.

Make sure you do not short-circuit the vehicle’s electrical system when disconnecting the battery.

1. To get rid of the old stereo start by removing the screws holding the trim in place. Make sure you have all the screws removed before you pry off the trim as otherwise, you can end up breaking it.

The trim can be anywhere to several plastic pieces to removing knobs and even drawers in order to get to the car stereo. Remove other necessary components too before you are able to access the stereo and disconnect components that may also be in the way.

You can take a picture of this for later reference.

2. Next, you’ll need to loosen the stereo. Whilst some may have screws and nuts others may have a special radio-removal key which is usually needed for Ford vehicles.

Once you have the stereo loose, pull the unit out gently using needle-nose pliers on the edge of it so you have a good grip. In case you are having a hard time pulling the stereo out make sure you don’t have components preventing this from happening.

3. Before you remove the wiring, take a picture so you know how to properly connect your new stereo.

Unplug the wires by starting with the antenna wire first which is thicker than the rest and usually plugged in separately too. Follow that up by unplugging the other wire harness connectors by pushing a button or pressing on the sides of a tab.

Installing a Car Stereo

Putting in The New One

1. To install the new stereo you’ll need to continue where you left off when you were removing the old one, the wiring. This is an important part of car stereo installation as it determines whether or not your new stereo will work.

This is where the picture you took before unplugging the old stereo comes in handy. This step also requires checking the wiring diagrams for the stereo and your car too.

The diagrams are useful if the stereo doesn’t have wire harnesses. In this case, you’ll need to match the wires manually with the help of the diagrams.

2. The wires can be either crimped or soldered – while crimping is faster and easier soldering will provide a more secure connection.

Once you are done sorting out the wiring it’s time to assemble the stereo’s mounting kit. Usually, stereos come with a separate mounting kit which requires you to fit a metal housing sleeve into the stereo’s frame.

When you’ve done that continue by connecting the stereo to its power source. Again, if there isn’t a wiring harness you’ll need to manually connect the power.

3. Follow this up by grounding the stereo. Unless you are using wiring harnesses this connection needs to be made manually too. You’ll need to locate the wire, bolt or screw connection to the vehicle’s metal chassis.

Loosen the bolt, wire or screw and slip in the ground wire (usually, black) from the stereo, underneath and then tighten it. Make sure that the ground connection is secured to the bare metal chassis otherwise the stereo won’t be grounded.

4. Continue connecting the rest of the wires and lastly plug in the antenna cable and the stereo’s wiring adapter to the vehicle’s wire harness. You may need to connect the output converter if it’s needed to make the stereo work with the vehicle’s system.

Connect the battery and turn on the stereo. Test all the features on the stereo including balance and fade settings too so you get the most out of it. Turn the stereo off and finish this car fix by putting all the components you took out back in their place. Check once again if the stereo is working well and you are done.