Car Stereos

Properly Installing Your Car Stereo


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Car stereo installation can be a daunting task if you don't know what you're doing. While most car owners who decide to purchase an aftermarket car stereo will choose to have it professionally installed, those who are electronically inclined and who have experience with car audio installation may decide to go the do-it-yourself route and install it themselves. If you're one of those people, we've compiled a handy how-to guide to help walk you through the steps of installing your own car stereo.

When installing a new car stereo yourself, you will find it handy to have your tools nearby before beginning. Depending on the type of vehicle you have, you will need the following: a slotted tip screwdriver, a Phillips-head screwdriver, a new wiring harness, a crimping tool, crimp caps, wire cutters and wire strippers.

Car Stereos are the heart of any car audio system and provide drivers with a simple, easy to use interface to help them control all of the various components of the vehicle's sound system. While most new cars come with a factory car stereo set up already installed, many people will choose to upgrade to a higher quality aftermarket stereo. For those looking to customize their car's sound system, there is an incredible variety of car stereo products and accessories to help you construct the perfect sound system.

Getting Started

First thing that you will want to do is remove your dashboard. When removing your dash, you do not want to use power tools. Using a screwdriver, you will remove all of the screws. Some may be hidden. Once all of the screws are removed from dash, you should be able to remove the panels easily.

After the dash is removed, you will then begin removing the old stereo. You might want to take notes while removing this because when you install your new stereo, it will be installed the exact same way, only in reverse. It is also a good idea to remove your stereo first before purchasing a new one so that you can take the old one to the store with you. You will want to make sure that your new stereo will fit properly into the old slot. Also, you will want to buy a wiring harness that is specific to your car to avoid future wiring problems that could potentially occur.

To remove your car stereo, you will first need to disconnect your battery's ground wire. This is the black wire connected to the battery under the hood of your car. It is dangerous to work on electrical components of a vehicle with this connected.

After disconnecting the ground wire, you will then unscrew your old stereo's head and slide it out gently. Be careful, because there will be many wires attached to the back. You will probably see a plastic wiring harness. You should unplug these factory harnesses and unplug the antenna.

Connecting Without a Harness:

A harness is designed to make this a much easier task. If you are unable to buy a harness, then there is a bit more to do. You will have to make the connections manually. If you do not have a harness, you should have a manual to assist you with this project.

Without a harness, you will need to connect the appropriate stereo wires to their corresponding wires attached to the dash. The wires will be color coated for your convenience.

Connect the positive wires from the dash to the positive wires on your new stereo. Next, connect the negative wires correspondingly. The colors in the dash should match the colors in the new stereo. If they don’t match, you should consult a manual.

Next, you will connect the black ground wire of the stereo to the metal of a screw or bolt next to where the stereo is mounted; making sure that the wire is touching the metal part of the bolt and not touching plastic or another nonconductor.

Now, you will connect the 12 constant and ignition power wires to the stereo. These wires will usually be red and yellow. Yellow represents battery, while red represents the ignition.

With a Harness

Assuming that you do have a harness, we are going to use the crimping method to connect the wires because it is much easier and cleaner than soldering. Dashboard electrical wires are generally 18 gauge wires but it is possible that you have a different size wire. Use appropriate size wire strippers and crimp caps for your specific wires.

Using the wire-strippers, strip the wire back approximately 1.5 inches. Next, twist the wires together and place the crimp cap onto the newly joined wires. Be sure to squeeze the cap to make sure it's tight for each wire.

Next, place the car stereo into the mounting bracket that was purchased with the stereo. Then, connect the wiring harness attached to the stereo to the factory provided harness inside the dash. Once this is complete, you will need to slide the stereo into the dash. Do not screw it in at this point, as you must first test it out.

Attach the negative battery cable to the battery for power. Then, turn your key on and try out your new stereo. If it has a lack of bass or too much treble, it is possible that something has been incorrectly connected. Disconnect your battery's negative cable again and go back into your dash. Look to see that everything is connected correctly and check your stereo's ground wire and make sure that it is sufficiently attached to ground. After rectifying the problem with connection, it should operate properly.

Also, it doesn't hurt to have a manual for your car. If you plan to do a lot of your own work in the future, you can purchase a manual online or from an auto parts store. This manual will explain how to remove your dashboard as well as help you with many other tasks.

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