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How to Install a Car Stereo

When it comes to installing a new car stereo, you can either pay a professional to do the installation or install it yourself. While paying a pro is typically recommended to make sure the installation is done properly, it can save some money to install it yourself. Plus, depending on the type of vehicle you have, it might not be too difficult. In this article we are going to help teach you how to install a car stereo.

Installation Tools

Before you start, lets make sure you have all the tools you need. There is nothing worse than starting a project only to find out that you are missing tools.

Required Tools Suggested Tools
Screwdrivers Radio Removal Tools
Wire Cutters Soldering Iron
Wire Strippers Panel Remover
Electrical Tape

Tip: You can purchase a Complete Car Stereo Took Kit, to make installation even easier.

Installing Your New Car Stereo:

1Remove Your Old Stereo:

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 out of the stereo toward you 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 facade. 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.

2Connect Your New Stereo:

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

The next step is connecting the stereo’s 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.

3Finish Installing Your Car Stereo:

Next, 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. Then, 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 an aftermarket car stereo. Enjoy the music!

Shop Car Stereos

Shop our wide variety of car stereos in different sizes, styles, colors, and with different features!

*Kits, harnesses, connectors and adapters are available free of charge 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 adapters are not free). Call a sales representative at 1-877-289-7664 from 10AM to 9PM EST or e-mail us at [email protected] for 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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