How to install a new stereo in your car?
A complete car stereo installation guide
This car stereo installation guide will guide you in:
Remove the factory car stereo
Connect a new car stereo using appropriate wiring
Install a new car stereo
Step-by-step installation guide for installing a car stereo
Step 1: Get hold of appropriate tools
Before starting the process of installing a new car stereo, you must equip yourself with essential tools that would help you in uninstalling the factory setup and install a new one. Some tools you would need are:
Wrench for battery cable
Panel removal tool for safely removing dash panels
Step 2: Remove the pre-installed factory car stereo
First of all, before planning to install your new car stereo, you need to remove your factory car stereo. You need to take certain precautions and ensure that the parking brake of your car is applied and the negative cable from the car battery is removed to avoid accidental damage due to short circuit. A factory stereo is mounted in either of the following ways:
Inside a metal mounting sleeve by spring clips
In case of spring clip mounted car stereos, you will need specialized pair of DIN tools. Let us guide you to remove your mounted stereo. First of all insert the DIN tools into the holes on either side of the system. When you insert the tool, a click sound would be heard. The click would indicate that the system is released from the spring clips and the side hooks. Once you hear the click, spread the tools apart and pull out the system from the dashboard.
Bolted with brackets to the dashboard
In case of a car stereo with bolted brackets attached to the dashboard, you would be required to remove trim panels from your dashboard. Make sure to carefully remove the plastic panels which are secured by hidden pressure clips. Sometimes you will be needed to remove various bolts to disassemble different pieces of panel. Once the panels are removed, you can access the factory stereo which you would find secured with four screws that have been bolted to the front of dashboard or secured through side brackets. Just remove these front screws/brackets and pull out the stereo from the dashboard.
Unplug the factory stereo :
Once you de-attach the factory system, you will be needed to unplug the factory stereo from the source. A car stereo is connected with the help of a stereo-prep package that includes at least one plastic wire harness. This harness will be attached to stereo’s back opening and connects the factory system to the car’s electrical system and the speakers. Just unplug the stereo from wiring harness and unplug the attached antenna, if any to complete the stereo removal process.
Step 3: Wiring a car stereo
If your newly-purchased car stereo system has came with a custom wiring harness, the same can be used to connect the new stereo to the car’s wiring harness. The wiring harness comes with a stereo wiring diagram that can be used to connect the harness to the new stereo. Along with the diagram with wiring harness, a diagram also comes with the car stereo system’s user manual. Using both the diagrams, you can ensure that the stereo’s wire colors are connected to the right adapter harnesses. This ensures seamless connectivity of your new car stereo system with your car’s electrical system.
In case your vehicle does not come with a harness or the harness was cut off, you can identify each wire and connect them with corresponding wires in the new stereo system.
Process of connecting the car stereo power wires
Crimping: There are a number of ways to connect two wires together. An easy method to connect two wires together is crimping. A simple and easy way, crimping can be done by even amateurs. Just make sure to crimp two wires together using the correct size crimp connecter. In-dash stereo come usually with 18-gauge wires but there are many systems that have heavier gauge power and ground wires. Crimping can be done using bullet connectors, butt connectors or even crimp caps.
Soldering: Soldering is a professional and permanent way of connecting two wires and ensures maximum current transfer between two wires. Soldering can be done with heat-shrink tube and heat gun for insulating the soldered connection. Just make sure that you do not use tapes at it would dry out, fall off and would expose the wires, resulting in short-circuit.
How to handle power wires?
In case you are required to make a direct power connection between your car stereo and the wiring harness, you will have to understand the fundamental difference between switched and constant power. A switched power source only provides current when the ignition is turned on. If you want such a connection, just connect the stereo’s main power lead (red wire) to a switched power source. This will turn off the stereo every time the car will be turned off. This will ensure that the car’s battery is not drained off unnecessarily. Whereas, a constant power source provide uninterrupted power supply to a car stereo system. To make a constant connection, connect the stereo’s memory wire (yellow) to a constant power source. This will ensure that you do not love your stereo preset settings, sound shaping as well as clock settings every time the car’s ignition is turned off. Some high powered stereo systems require a constant power connection at the positive terminal of car’s battery. This should be done using a heavier gauge power wire, ring terminal to connect the power wire with the battery and an in-line fuse included with the stereo set. To make the connection to the battery, you will have to shift the power wire through the car’s firewall into the engine compartment.
How to take care of ground wiring for perfect output?
Ground wiring is essential for effective sound output and performance. You can use a bolt, screw or wire if you are not using a custom wire harness to attach the system’s black wire (ground wire) to the bare metal of car’s chassis for grounding. Just loosen the bolt or wire and slip the ground wire to the chassis and then tighten the bolt/screw or wire for perfect grounding. But make sure that the ground wire should be in touch with bare metal or your car stereo will not operate. If the ground connection is loose or weak, interruptions/ noise may occur in the music playback.
How to take care of emergency brake wiring in case of an in-dash stereo with video-tapping?
If the car stereo has a built-in video monitor, you will be needed to connect one wire to the emergency brake wire. This will ensure that the video monitor turns on when parking brake is applied. The in-dash monitor comes with a user manual and instructions to help you find the emergency brake ground wire. You can also contact a professional tech support team for the same.
Step 4: Installing the new stereo
If your original factory stereo was the one with bolts, you would be needed to remove various mounting brackets that were on side and then attach them to the sides of your new stereo. You would then need a mounting kit that includes a trim ring, dash insert, brackets, faceplate, and a metal mounting sleeve to install the new stereo.
In case you install a stereo kit in the dashboard, make sure to slide the stereo’s metal mounting sleeve in to the car stereo kit. For this, you will be needed to secure the metal sleeve using a screwdriver. This will bend the sleeve’s metal tabs to set the stereo in the perfect place.
In other case where you first attach the mounting kit to the car stereo, make secure the both with screws in the dashboard. Once you prepare the dash opening for the stereo, just hold the stereo near the prepared opening, connect stereo wiring to car’s wiring harness and plug-in the antenna cable. Once the wiring harness is connected, slide the stereo system into the dash opening, but before fastening it with bolts/fasteners, make sure to test stereo to check its functionality. You will have to reattach the battery cable for testing purposes. Make sure that you remember to connect any airbag warning plugs, if you had disconnected the same in the whole process.
To test the system, turn on the car stereo and try various power sources such as AM, FM, CD, USB, Aux, etc. and check the balance and fader settings to test speakers. Once you are satisfied that the system is working properly, finish the installation by securing the whole system in the dashboard and reinstall all the pieces of dash trim panel that were removed while removing the old system. It is quite certain that you will need a back strap for supporting the rear panel of the new stereo.
Back strap supports a stereo in the dash and helps in reducing the overall vibration inside the dash. This reduces wear and tear and also improves overall performance. In most cases, back strap or a mounting bracket is included with the new stereo. To install a back strap for supporting the system, just attach one end of the back strap to the rear of a stereo with a screw. Take the other end to any existing bolt or screw that is present behind the dashboard. Bend the shape of back strap as necessary to effectively and sturdily mount the whole system.
Can you as a normal person perform the whole installation process?
An amateur can easily install a new system with this simple process. Just make sure that you will need a special factory system adapter in case your car has an upgraded factory sound system with an integrated stereo/climate control panel. The adapter helps you to use the existing speakers inside a car with the new stereo system.