• Replacing Your Car’s Factory Radio

    You probably already know that you are not stuck with the factory radio that comes with your car. You can usually replace it yourself or have a professional installer do it any time.

    If you are mechanically inclined, the process may not be as difficult as you might have thought. First, however, you need to select the right radio. If you are in the market only for a radio/CD player, then you need to be certain that it has a built-in amplifier, equalizer and digital processor. The amplifier provides the power to work the speakers, the equalizer allows you to balance the sound and the digital processor assures that the speakers play in alignment and achieves proper imaging and staging. 

    You also need to know the size of opening in the dash where the radio/CD player will be placed. There are 2 sizesDIN and Double DIN. The salesperson at the shop where you buy the radio/CD player can help you determine what size radio you need. 

    You will also need to decide if you intend to expand the system some time in the future. For example, do you think you will want to add a DVD player? If so, the radio needs to include an auxiliary input that allows you to plug the DVD player into the radio. And it should also have RCA audio-video outputs for the addition of monitors. 

    Once you have purchased the radio you will need to get a harness adapter which will allow you to plug the new radio into the factory electronics. A number of companies sell harnesses for this purpose. They include Pacific Accessories Corporation, Precision Interface Electronics and Peripheral Electronics

    Log on to each company’s website and search for a harness that can be used with the radio you have purchased in the car in which the unit will be installed. In the listing of harnesses you will see a particular harness that is designed to work with say an Alpine, Kenwood, Pioneer, JVC, Sony, Clarion, Blaupunkt, Eclipse, Panasonic, Rockford or Sanyo radio. And the harness will work in Acuras, Audis, BMWs, Buicks, Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Chryslers, Hondas, Hummers, Infinitis, Jaguars, Land Rovers, Lincolns, Mazdas, Mercurys, Mitsubishis, Nissans, Pontiacs, Saabs, Toyotas, and Volkswagens, etc.

    Select and purchase the proper harness for your combination of radio manufacturer and make of car. 

    You need to understand here that the newest model vehicles feature factory radios that are integrated into the car’s computer. In this case, you will not be able to replace the factory radio. Although you will be able to add an aftermarket radio, the installation is somewhat complicated and experts advise that you have a professional installer do this type of installation. 

    The tools you will need for the removal of a factory radio and installation of an aftermarket radio are:

    • Screwdriver
    • Panel Popper
    • Crimps
    • Drill

    Use the panel popper to remove the trim surrounding the factory radio. This will gain you access to the screws that secure the radio in place. Remove the screws which hold the radio. Unplug the factory harness and then pull the radio out. Plug in the aftermarket harness adapter into the factory harness and into the harness that comes with the aftermarket radio. 

    Push the radio into the hole where it was mounted and secure it with the screws. Press on the trim.