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install Archives | Learn Car Audio
Tag: install

How to Install a Car Amplifier

How to install a car amplifier

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 8 AWG
400 to 1000 watts 4 AWG
1000+ watts 0/1 AWG


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.


Test Everything

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.

Pro tips!

    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.


How to Install Car Speakers

How to install a car speaker

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.


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.