Listening to your favorite tunes while cruising down the highway is a relaxing and pleasant experience. That being said, it’s often not so pleasant when all you have is your OEM, factory car stereo. In order to increase the auditory experience, we recommend you purchase and install your very own aftermarket car stereo system.
Once purchased, the installation of your aftermarket stereo system is an easy procedure. Below, we’ve outlined the basic steps required to install your new car stereo. However, it is important to remember that each car and each new unit is different, so when you do the actual install, follow the instructions that come with your new purchase.
5 Steps for Installing a Car Stereo System
Step 1. Prepare Your Vehicle
Before you do anything, make sure your vehicle is parked on level ground, and you’ve applied your parking brake. Remember, you’ll be coming in contact with your vehicles electrical system, so disconnect your vehicles battery. Finally, grab the vehicle manual from your glove compartment, as you might need it during installation.
Step 2. Gather your Supplies
When you install your stereo, you want to remain focused, so get all tools together, and within reach. What you’ll need will vary depending on the type of car stereo you are installing, so we’ve included a list of the basic tools to get you started:
- Jar for any screws/bolts you remove
- Flathead and Phillips screwdriver
- Pry tool for the trim around the radio
- Socket wrench
- Optional: Wiring adapter and antenna adapter
Step 3. Remove the Old Unit
Carefully unscrew any trim or panels around the old head unit. Remove the trim using your hands or a specifically designed pry tool. While it might be tempting to use a spatula or similar item, it is strongly recommended you use a Pry tool.
If your factory stereo happens to be bolted in place, simply remove the bolts using a socket wrench. Remember to place all loose screws and/or bolts in the jar so they don’t roll off. When you proceed to remove the old unit, it is strongly advised you either take photos of the process or video, as you may need these images later when it comes to reconnecting any wiring.
Step 4. Installing the New Unit
The most confusing aspect of installing a new car stereo for newbies is confronting the wiring system. While systems are often different, for the most part, all you are going to do is to take the wiring harness on your new car stereo, and match the wires up to your vehicles wire harness.
If you studied the wiring diagram that came with your cars stereo earlier, you should be a little less intimidated by the wiring system. Also, remember the photos you took earlier? Well, now is the time you might want to take a look at them, to ensure you’ve matched up your wiring perfectly.
If you come across instructions that have you strip the wiring, get your wire stripping tool and some electrical tape. Take your wire stripping tool, and carefully strip about 2 inches of insulation from each wire, and proceed to follow the instructions that came with your new after market radio.
If your installation requires you to twist the wires together, simply take the ends of the matching colored wires, twist them, and proceed to tape them together with electricians tape, making certain nothing is left exposed. However, if you prefer to crimp or solder your wires, please feel free to do so. Many car owners prefer to twist the wires together due to the greater surface area available, and the strength of the connection.
You also have the option to purchase a separate wiring adapter. This will let you plug your new unit right into your vehicles wiring system, quickly and easily. Using a wiring adapter is often the first choice for newbies, as it eliminates the guesswork out of wiring your stereo to your vehicles power source.
Step 5. Time to Power Up
Finally, don’t forget to plug in your antenna cable. Before you place your new unit in the dash, it’s a good idea to test it out first, so connect the cars battery, turn the key and test every function of your particular unit. If everything works, congratulations, the wiring is perfect, and you can now place your new unit in the dash, trim and all!
The Final Words (Summary)
Installing your very own car stereo is not as frightening as it appears. First, become familiar with your aftermarket stereos wiring by studying the accompanying wire diagram. Next, open your vehicle manual and learn about your OEM radio.
Once you feel comfortable with the wiring, gather your tools, camera, instruction manual and begin the install. Begin by removing the trim, take imagery of the wiring, and completely remove the old unit. Proceed to connect the new unit to your vehicles power system, and attach your antenna cable.
Finally, reconnect your vehicles battery and test your new car stereo. If everything works, you can now properly install it into the dash, and replace the trim. Even after this, you have the added option to purchase a subwoofer or two, to bring out the absolute best sound from your new, car stereo.