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Learning how to install a amplifier in your car is easy. All you need is the the proper supplies, a couple of hours, and the willingness to pull off some panels from your car. Once you have all of that, follow the steps below to begin installing your new amplifier!
Confirm all your gear is compatible
Before you even think about installing your new amplifier, it is important to make sure that your gear is compatible.
Car Amplifier – Will it phonically fit in your car? How are you going to run signal to the amp from the car stereo?
Power / Ground cable – Is it the recommended gauge for the amplifier?
Do you have the right wire?
You will want to make sure that your amplifier installation kit includes the right sized power and ground cable. A general rule of thumb is the following:
Wattage of all amps
Recommended Wire Gauge
up to 400 watts
400 to 1000 watts
Mount the Amplifier
This is important because the location of your amplifier will determine how long your runs of wire are. Typical locations for an amplifier are under seats, in the trunk, or even mounted to the subwoofer box. However you mount the amplifier, make sure that it is secured to the car. Most amplifiers will come with mounting directions. For most installations where you are putting the amp on carpet, you can slide a piece of MDF under the carpet to screw the amp into.
Run Power and Ground wire
The first set of wires you will run is the power and ground. This will provide the power to turn on your amplifier and ensure proper grounding. The power cable (positive) is run from the positive terminal of your car battery to the positive input terminal on the car amplifier. Your ground cable (negative) is run from the negative terminal on the amplifier to a grounding point on the vehicle. A proper grounding point will ideally be joined to the chassis of the vehicle.
Give the Amplifier signal
Once the amplifier has power, you will need to give it signal and tell the amp when to turn on. From the back of aftermarket car stereo, connect the RCA interconnect cables and then run them to amp. It is highly recommended that you run the RCA cables along the opposite side from which you ran the power cable. This will prevent any noise or interference that can transit from the power cable into the RCA signal. Once the RCAs have been run to the amplifier, plug them into the appropriate RCA input.
Next, run the remote turn-on wire from the car stereo to the amplifier. This is the small 16 gauge wire that cam in your amp kit. It will need to be connected to the remote turn-on wire from the wire harness on the back of the stereo. Run this wire with the RCA cables and insert it in the remote turn on input terminal on the amplifier. This will tell the amplifier to turn on when the car stereo turns on.
Connect amplifier to speaker or subwoofer
Now that the amplifier is powered and is receiving signal from the car stereo, it is time to send that signal to the loudspeakers. Run the speaker wire from the amp terminals to the terminals on the speakers or subwoofer. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend using 12 AWG wire for subwoofers and 16 AWG wire for speakers.
If you are connecting subwoofers, double check the wiring configuration to make sure that the impedance between the sub and amp match.
At this point you should everything connected and wired properly. Turn the car on and play a track on the stereo. You should be able to hear sound coming from the loudspeaker connected to the amplifier. If you don’t hear anything, you will have to trouble shoot the installation and find out whats wrong. If it is playing music, then you can turn the car off and put everything back together.
That’s it! If you can install an amplifier in your car, then you can install pretty much any other type of aftermarket car audio gear.
For first time installers, disconnect the negative batter terminal to prevent any electrical issues before or after the installation.
Dry fit everything before mounting the amplifier. This is ensure that the amplifier will fit and the wires are long enough.
Tune your amplifier! Once you confirm that the amplifier is functioning properly, spend some time tuning the amp to make it sound better.
The most important thing about installing a subwoofer is making sure that it is wired properly to the correct impedance. For the first time installer, it might seem like a tricky and confusing task, but in reality it is a really simple thing to do. If you know what wiring configuration you want to use, click on the link below for a diagram and explanation.
Not sure which to use? If you haven’t purchased your sub and amp yet, the following popular wiring configurations can help you in your buying process.
One subwoofer to Dual 2 ohm
This is my preferred method for a single subwoofer (and probably the most popular). Dual 4 ohm subwoofers are common and the simple wiring config down to 2 ohms provide a good balance for more power while still staying stable.
Two Subwoofers to Dual 2 ohm
When installing 2 subwoofers, I recommend maintaining a final impedance of 2 ohms. This is for the same reason as the one subwoofer to 2 ohm (more power and stable). This is done by getting two dual 2 ohm subwoofers and wiring them to 2 ohm.
Installing a subwoofer in your car can be one of the most musically rewarding upgrades that could be made to a car. That is because most factory car audio systems do not include a subwoofer and are unable to accurately play the lower frequencies of music. When a sub is installed in the car, the overall frequency response of the car widens and the user will be able to hear the bass notes along a wider range of viable frequencies. This page is dedicated to helping you understand how to install a car subwoofer.
What you will need:
Quick Disconnect Connectors
Industrial Strength Velcro (optional)
1. Wire the subwoofer to the correct impedance
The most important part of installing a car subwoofer is making sure the sub is wired to the correct impedance. This is very simple if you follow the wiring instruction that came with the subwoofer or view my wiring diagram pages. Make sure that the RMS wattage and final impedance of the subwoofer(s) match the RMS output of the amplifier at that same impedance.
For example, if you have a 500 watt dual 4-ohm subwoofer that is wired to 2-ohm, make sure that the amplifier puts out roughly 500 watts RMS at a 2 ohm impedance.
I recommend using 12 AWG speaker wire for making these connections. Only use thicker gauges in rare cases when the RMS of the subs are 1500+ watts. Failure to properly wire the subwoofer will result in improper wattage seen at the subwoofer and can cause permanent damage to the subwoofer and/or amplifier.
2. Mount the subwoofer in the box
Once you have wired the subwoofer to the proper impedance, you will be ready to mount the woofer to the box. Start by connecting the positive/negative speaker leads from the subwoofer and connect them to the inside of the subwoofers terminals. Usually this is done easily with quick disconnect connectors. With everything wired up, line the box with a healthy dose of polyfill (optional).
Assuming your box has a cut out the same size as the subwoofer, you should be able to simply set the woofer in the box cut out and prepare to screw it in place. Make sure that the subwoofer is lined up properly and not upside down. Then use some standard wood screws to mount the subwoofer to the MDF box. Be careful to not over tighen, but create a secure fit.
3. Connect the subwoofer to the amplifier
On the outside of the subwoofer box terminal (that has been connected to the speaker wire used to wire the subwoofer), you will be able to run positive and negative speaker wire to the amplifier. At this point, I recommend double checking all the connections and sending signal to the subwoofer to test it out.
4. Tune the Subwoofer
With everything connected, you can now tune the subwoofer to your liking by adjusting the subwoofer settings on your amplifier. This includes frequency response, bass boost, gain, subsonic filter, and other settings depending on the amplifier.
Replacing the speakers in your car yourself can be a fun and rewarding project that can bring a great smile to your face. However, if you don’t know what you are doing, it can be a difficult and frustrating process. Learn how to install car speakers with these basic fundamentals of replacing a coaxial speaker in your car.
1. Remove Panels
Begin by removing all the panels around the speaker you want to replace. Look for brackets, screws, and bolts that are holding the panel in place. Doors panels typcially have panel clips around the edges that can be carefully removed with door panel removal tools.
2. Remove Speaker
Once all the panels around the speaker have been removed and the speaker is exposed, go ahead and remove the speaker. Some cars will have the speaker mounted to a bracket and other cars will have the speaker bolted directly to the vehicles frame. Look for bolts or clips that hold the speaker in place and remove them. When you pull the speaker out, disconnect the speaker wire. Hopefully this can be done by undoing a mylar clip, otherwise you might have to use a wire cutter to cut the wire. Be sure to save all the parts/hardware.
3. Attach Mounting Bracket to New Speaker
With the speaker now removed, its time to prepare the new speaker to be installed. Pull the new speakers from the box and attach it to the mounting bracket (if your vehicle required one). This will allow the speaker to fit snugly in the same location as the old speaker. Use screws to attach the speaker basket to the mounting bracket. Be careful not to damage the speaker while using the screwdriver.
4. Connect Speaker Wire
Before the new speaker is mounted to the car, be sure to plug it in. If you are using a speaker install harness then this step is as simple as plugging in the ends of two harnesses. If you had to cut the speaker wires, then you will need to use butt connectors (or solder) and make sure that the positive and negative wires are properly connected. Remember… positive to positive, negative to negative.
5. Mount the New Speaker
Once the speaker is connected, mount the speaker to the vehicle in the same manner that you removed it. You should be able to use all the same hardware that you saved when you removed the speaker.
6. Put the Panels Back on
Simply put the panels back on the car in the same fashion that you removed them.
That’s it! Now just test your system to make sure that the speaker is playing music and is in phase. If everything is working properly, then you just learned how to install car speakers.
Disclaimer: Not all cars are the same, especially all these new cars that are coming out each year. Always consult a professional if you are unsure of what you are doing or feel that you might break something.
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.
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.
The information on this website is based on my experiences and opinions. It is always recommended to consult with a professional installer before doing anything on your car. LearnCarAudio.com is not responsible for any typographical, conceptual, or visual errors on the website.