Car Stereo Installation Guide
This installation guide walks you through the process of installing (car stereo installation) a new car stereo. We’ll cover:
- How to remove the factory stereo
- Connecting the new receiver — what you need to know about the wiring
- Installing the new car stereo
Please read over these guidelines before beginning the installation in order to give yourself an idea of what to expect.
Get your toolbox
You’ll need a few tools to get the job done, but nothing serious. A couple of screwdrivers and a wrench for the battery cable are most common. One of the more important tools you’ll need is a panel removal tool to help you safely remove the dash panels without scratching the surfaces or breaking anything. car stereo installation
Remove the factory stereo
When installing a new stereo in your car, your first step will be to remove the old stereo. Pay close attention to the steps involved, for the process for installing your new stereo will be the same, but in reverse.
For detailed information on how to remove the factory stereo in a specific vehicle, refer to your instructions, if available.
Before you begin, start by setting the parking brake and removing the negative cable from the car battery to prevent accidentally short circuiting something. They will walk you through the process step-by-step. Otherwise, you may use the general guidelines below.
Your factory stereo will be mounted in one of two ways:
- secured in a metal mounting sleeve by spring clips
- bolted to the dash with brackets
Spring clip mounting
If the stereo is held in by spring clips, you’ll need a pair of DIN tools. Insert the DIN tools into the holes on eitter side of the unit until a click is heard. The tools serve to release the spring clips and also hook onto the sides of the stereo so that you can pull it out easily. Spread the tools apart slightly then pull the stereo out of the dash.
Bolted in place
Sometimes, accessing the stereo requires the removal of one or more trimpanels from the dash. You may have to (carefully) pry the plastic trim away from the dash (which is often secured by hidden pressure clips), or locate and remove bolts to disassemble other pieces of panel. Once you have gained access to the factory stereo, removal should be obvious.
If your vehicle has (or once had) a factory stereo, or if it was pre-wired with a “stereo prep” package, there should be at least one plastic wiring harness behind the stereo opening. This plug connects the stereo to your vehicle’s electrical system, and also makes the speaker connections. You will need to unplug the factory stereo from the wiring harnesses, and unplug the antenna to complete the removal process.
Installing a backstrap
A mounting bracket — or backstrap — is often included with new stereos. For most installations, a backstrap usually is not a necessary part of the installation process. However, it can be useful to help support the stereo in your dash; it also helps reduce vibration. One end of the backtrap attaches (with a screw) to the rear of the stereo. The other end attaches to an existing bolt or screw behind the dash. Just bend and shape the backstrap as necessary to enable mounting.
How to wire a car stereo
If Crutchfield carries a custom wiring harness for your vehicle, you can use it to connect your new stereo to your vehicle’s factory wiring harnesses. This will ensure that everything works seamlessly, just like the factory stereo did. car stereo installation
A good ground connection is vital for proper stereo performance. If you are not using a custom wiring harness, look for a bolt, screw, or wire that contacts the bare metal of your vehicle’s chassis. Loosen the bolt, slip the ground wire underneath (this is almost always a black wire), then tighten the bolt. If your ground wire doesn’t contact bare metal, your stereo won’t operate. A loose or weak ground connection can result in signal noise interfering with your music.
In-dash video — tapping into the emergency brake wiring
If your new stereo has a video monitor built in, you will also need to connect a wire to your emergency brake wire. This wire acts as a switch to turn on the video monitor when the parking brake is engaged. Follow the instructions included with your in-dash monitor to locate the emergency brake ground wire. And once again, Crutchfield’s award-winning tech support team can be a big help here.
Usually, it is best to make all of the new stereo’s wiring connections via the wiring harness, but if you have to make a direct power connection, you’ll need to know the difference between “switched” and “constant” power. car stereo installation
Tell us what you drive
The link above takes you to our Crutchfield Outfit My Car tool, where you can tell us what kind of vehicle you have. From there, you’ll be able to see the details about which stereos, speakers, and other gear will work with your vehicle and also see the installation gear you’ll need to do the job right. If you have any questions about choosing a new car stereo, contact us via chat, email, or phone – the info is at the very top of the page.