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How to Install a Car Stereo


Required Tools:

  • Screwdrivers (Flat, Phillips)
  • Wire Cutters
  • Wire Strippers
  • Electrical Tape

You may also need one or more of the following: Radio removal tools, Soldering Iron, Panel Remover

When it comes time to install your car stereo, you will almost certainly need electrical tape, screwdrivers (flat and phillips), a wire cutter and a crimping tool. You may also need one or more of the following: a soldering iron, panel remover, and factory stereo removal pins. Some panels do not even use screws so you can just pop out the panels using a panel remover.

Naturally, you must first remove the old factory stereo before you install your new car stereo. Set the parking brake and remove the negative cable from the vehicle battery. Factory stereos either rest in a mounting pocket with spring clips or they are bolted into the dash with brackets. For stereos secured by spring clips, you can use radio removal tools. Insert the ends of these horse-shoe pins into both sides of the unit until you hear a click sound. Pull the tools outwards and carefully remove the stereo from the pocket kit.

For stereos bolted into the dash, you might need to wedge a panel tool or flat head screwdriver underneath the plastic façade. Pry it open in order to access the bolts and plug pieces that hold the panel in place. After you remove these pieces, you will see the head unit. From here remove any screws that are holding the stereo in place and remove the unit from the dash.

Now unplug the factory stereo from the wire harness and unplug the antenna. If your vehicle does not have a harness or if the stereo plug was severed due to theft or misuse, you need to figure out which stereo wire matches up with the wires from your new car stereo. From here you must crimp or solder the stereo wires. Soldering gives a permanent connection, but crimping is easier and usually more practical.

The next step is connecting the power and ground wires. Use the free wire harness included with your order at Sonic Electronix* to provide your car stereo with power and ground connections.

Now install the free installation kit* you received with your order at SonicElectronix. Place the pocket piece in the brackets and use a screwdriver to secure the metal tabs. If your OEM factory stereo was bolted into the dash, you may have to remove the brackets from the sides of the OEM stereo and attach them to the aftermarket stereo. Connect the stereo wire harness to the vehicle’s wire harness and plug in the antenna. Place your head unit into the pocket piece, but don’t secure it until you are sure that everything is functioning. Now you can finish installing the stereo by securing it in place and putting back any loose panels or screws you removed earlier. Congratulations, you now know how to install a car stereo. Enjoy the music!

*Kits, harnesses, connectors and adaptors are available for most, but not all, vehicles. Some vehicles require no kit or harness, while others require a special wiring adapter to connect the aftermarket receiver to a factory installed amplifiers or speakers (these kits and other adaptors are not free). Call a sales representative at 1-877-289-7664 from 7AM to 7PM PST or e-mail us at [email protected] more details.

Staff writers at Sonic Electronix are experts in their field. In addition to a complete in-house training program, these experts typically have many years of hands-on experience in their specialty. Some come from car audio installer backgrounds, while others come with extensive retail experience.
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