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How to Install an Amplifier in your Car

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by: Gary Brikowski



Required Tools:

You may also need one or more of the following:  Screwdrivers (Flat, Phillips) and Screws, Drill, Pliers, Knife, Flashlight, Soldering Gun, Panel Remover, Electrical tape


Decide on a Mounting Location


Find a suitable location in your vehicle. Be sure that there is sufficient air circulation around the intended mounting location. The mounting location should not interfere with walkways or any other space occupied by passenger extremities. Many common locations include the trunk space or underneath the seat.


Mark the location for the mounting screws by positioning the car amp over the mounting spot. Use a scribe or mounting screw to reach through the mounting holes and mark the mounting surface. Drill holes in the mounting surface for the mounting screws and attach the amp to the mounting surface with screws. Prior to drilling, investigate your vehicle to figure out where the gas tank, gas lines and electrical lines are located. This way you can avoid drilling through these areas.


Wiring Configuration


Prior to wiring, read your amplifier’s manual to get an understanding of the power, input and speaker connections. Make sure you understand the diagrams before you proceed.


Low-level input wiring, or RCA wiring, is the optimal wiring configuration. High-level input wiring, or speaker input wiring, is only recommended if your head unit does not have RCA inputs. For systems without RCA outputs, connect the speaker outputs from the receiver to the high level inputs of the amplifier.


In order to connect your amplifier to your vehicle’s power system, you will need an amplifier wiring kit. Install kits provide all of the necessary wires and parts required for the install.


Step by Step Guide


To prevent an electrical short circuit, engage your vehicle’s parking brake and disconnect the negative terminal on your battery.


The first step is to connect a ground wire from the power ground terminal of the amplifier to the vehicle’s chassis. Try to make this as short as possible. The next step is to attach the power wire to the positive battery terminal. Run the wire through the firewall (you may need to drill a hole to do so). Next connect the remote terminal to the remote output of the head unit. Now connect an empty fuse holder, and run wire from this fuse to the amp location. Connect the fuse holder to the power connection on the amplifier.


If your system has multiple amplifiers, you will need to run a pair of separate cables from the battery and a chassis ground to each amp. Each cable must have its own inline fuse. You will also need to ground each amplifier, either by using a distribution block or by running a separate ground wire for each amp. If you are running multiple amplifiers, you may need to install a digital capacitor to help modulate power from the vehicle’s electrical system.


Now you are ready to connect your speakers to the amplifier. Use the line inputs and outputs to connect all of the speakers. Be sure to follow proper polarity rules. After this step, now insert the fuse(s) into the battery fuse holder(s) and check all of the connections before powering the amp. Make sure all of the wires are concealed and tucked away. Set all of the controls to the minimum levels, and set all of the crossover controls and switches to the desired frequency points. Now you are ready to turn on the head unit and the amplifier. Adjust the volume control on the head unit to about 75% of the maximum, and adjust the amplifier’s input level control(s) to just below the level of distortion. Tune the amp until you find your desired sound output.


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