How to Install a Car Stereo

how to install a car stereo

Replacing the stereo in your car will enhance the sound quality, make your ride more enjoyable, and offer more features than the OEM stereo. Since every car is different, replacing the stereo can be very simple or quite difficult. If you are not completely comfortable replacing your car stereo, it is recommended that you seek out a professional installer. For those that want to learn how to install a car stereo on their own, follow the steps below:

1. Purchase the Right Gear

Before you can install your new car stereo, make sure you purchase one that will fit in your car. The two most standard sizes are Single DIN or Double DIN. Use an online retailer (like Sonic Electronix) or an manufacturer (such as Metra) to find out what size stereo you need for your car. Most stores include free installation accessories with purchase of a car stereo. These accessories are very important.

2. Remove the car stereo

The first step in the installation should be to disconnect the negative battery terminal to prevent any electrical issues. Then follow the instructions provided in the car stereo installation dash kit to learn how to remove the OEM car stereo. These instructions include removing panels, unbolting screws, and any other information that is necessary to gain access to the current car stereo. Once exposed, there are typically a few screws holding the stereo in place. Simply unscrew the screws, remove the stereo, and unplug all the wires.

3. Prepare the wiring harness

The wiring harness will be the main connection between your new car stereo and the vehicle. You will need to connect the vehicle specific harness to the harness that came with the aftermarket stereo. Since these two harnesses are aftermarket, they should follow the same color pattern. Simply connect each of the wires using one of 3 different methods: crimp caps, butt connectors, or soldering. The butt connector method is the most common. Soldering the wires together is the best method, but also the most time consuming. I highly recommend watching the video below for this step.

Video: How to properly connect a wire harness

4. Install any accessories

Depending on your car stereo and the features that you want, you may have to install a few other accessories before you put the new stereo in the dash. This might include accessories like Satellite radio (such as Sirius or XM), GPS navigation, bluetooth microphone or a back up camera. For a detailed walkthrough on installing each of these accessories, watch the videos below that are relevant to your installation.

5. Put in the new stereo

Once you have the harness prepared and all the accessory cables ran through the car, the stereo is ready to be placed in the car. To do this, first mount the stereo to the dash kit by following the instruction included with the dash kit. Usually this is done by attaching a side bracket to the car stereo and then mounting that to the dash kit. Once the dash kit is mounted to the car stereo, plug in the wire harnesses and any other accessory cables. Then mount the new car stereo in the vehicle’s dash. At this point, you should be ready to reconnect the battery and test the stereo.

6. Put everything back together

If everything is functioning properly, then carefully put back all the dash panels in the reverse order that they were pulled off. Once everything is put back together in the car, simply clean up all your tools and you are done. Enjoy the new stereo.

It is important to note that the information on this page is merely a generic guideline, not a strict how to guide. If you are not comfortable installing a car stereo, you should contact a professional car audio installation shop. It is better to be safe than sorry. An improper installation could potentially damage your vehicle and/or its electrical system.

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