It doesn't have to be difficult to install a new car radio, in this article you will find general instructions on how to do that. Keep in mind that some cars and some headunits are more difficult than others, so the steps don't apply to all cases. So always read the user manual of the car radio before you start.
Part 1 of 3: Taking out the old car radio
Step 1. Apply your parking brake and disconnect the negative terminal of the battery
You do this to prevent a short circuit during installation.
Read this article for instructions on how to disconnect your battery
Step 2. Loosen the screws holding the cover edge
Always loosen all screws before attempting to remove the cover, otherwise it may break.
Step 3. Remove the cover edge
Some cars will require you to remove several pieces of plastic, usually from the bottom up.
- If you need to remove a piece of dashboard with knobs or drawers, remove these items first before removing the trim.
- Use your hands or something to stab with to carefully remove each piece of dashboard.
Step 4. Remove any components
If you need to remove certain components in order to access the car radio, do so now.
Disconnect components that are secured with wires. Take a picture of each connection so you can easily reattach it later
Step 5. Detach the car radio
How this should be done can differ per car.
- If the car radio is secured with screws or nuts, remove it with the appropriate tool (screwdriver or wrench).
- If the car radio is not secured with screws or nuts, you need a special wrench to remove car radios. These keys are either in the shape of a long horseshoe or they are round on one side and have a notch on the other. Go to a store that sells auto parts.
- Insert the key into the two small slots on the front of the car radio. This unlocks a mechanism that keeps the car radio in place. Slide the key into the slots again until you feel the car radio release from the housing. After this you can pull the car radio towards you relatively easily.
Step 6. Pull the car radio out of the dashboard
You may need pliers with a thin nose to get a grip on the car radio. Gently pull the car radio towards you, making sure you haven't overlooked anything that might still be holding it.
Step 7. Take a picture of the wires attaching to the back of the car radio
This is very important because you will be able to use this photo as a reference when you install the new car radio.
Step 8. Disconnect all wires
There are all kinds of wires attached to the back of the car radio, and you have to disconnect each wire.
- First disconnect the antenna wire, which is usually thicker and separate from the other wires. When that wire is loose, you can move the car radio a little easier.
- Now disconnect all plastic connectors. There are usually several plastic connectors on the back of the car stereo, each with multiple wires inside. You can disconnect the connectors by pressing a button on the side. After unlocking it in this way, you can gently pull the connectors off the car radio.
Part 2 of 3: Installing the new car stereo
Step 1. See which wires go where
See which wires from the car belong to which inputs and outputs of the new car radio. Each connector is unique, so it should be easy to figure out which connector belongs where.
- Just to be sure, check the diagrams of your car and the car radio to verify that you have connected them correctly.
- If your car does not use bundled connectors, you will have to manually figure out where each wire belongs in the car radio. The wires are different colors to match the colors on the car radio, so that way you can figure out what goes where.
- Connect the wires. There are two options for connecting the wires: crimping or soldering. Crimping is faster and easier, but soldering will give you a more stable and secure connection. Use the correct size heat shrink tubing and try not to tape the wires together - it will dry out and eventually fall off. Better to use tie wraps.
Step 2. Mount the cover to the mounting frame
Many car radios come with parts intended for assembly, read the owner's manual for further instructions (usually a metal shell must be fitted into the frame).
Press down the metal tabs on the cover with a screwdriver to secure the metal cover
Step 3. Connect the power
Usually you do this by pushing the correct connectors to the correct inputs of the car radio.
If your wires are not bundled by means of plastic connectors, you have to connect the power manually. Determine whether your car uses a switched power source (usually a red wire) or a constant power source (usually a yellow wire). For more information on switched versus constant current, click here
Step 4. Connect the ground of the car radio
If you use connectors, the earth is connected when you connect the connectors.
- If you're not using the connectors, you'll need to find the bolt, wire, or screw that connects to the car's chassis. loosen the bolt, wire or screw, run the car radio ground wire underneath (usually black) and retighten.
- Earth must always be connected to ensure proper operation of the car radio. If the ground wire does not make contact with the metal, the car radio will not work. And if the ground wire is a little loose, it can result in poor audio quality.
Step 5. Connect the remaining wires
Connect the antenna cable and connect the remaining wires. Connect the output converter if needed to make the new stereo compatible with the car's audio system. Keep in mind that all wires should be connected eventually and no loose wires should hang.
Step 6. Test the car radio
Turn on the car radio and test the radio and CD player. Test the balance between the left and right speakers and the balance between the front and rear. Turn the car radio off again.
Part 3 of 3: Finishing
Step 1. Push the car radio into place
If the car radio has been pushed in far enough, you should hear a click.
Step 2. Reattach all components
Retighten the screws needed to hold the car radio in place, reattach any wired components, and replace knobs and drawers.
Step 3. Press the cover edges back into place
Double-check that all screws and dashboard components are tight.
Step 4. Try out the new car stereo
Turn on the car radio and test if everything is still working properly.
- Always buy a car radio that fits your type of car. If you're not sure, go to a store that specializes in car radios.
- At some stores, the car radio is built in for free if you buy the car radio there.
- Put screws and nuts in the holder for coffee cups.
- If it doesn't work, get help from a professional--otherwise you could damage the car or injure yourself.
- Follow the instructions that came with the car radio.