9 Simple Steps to Replace Car Stereo

How to Replace Car Stereo

Installing a stereo in your car is simple and you can complete this task easily without relying on mechanics. You just need to remember one thing that every car’s stereo system is different from others so some specifics may vary. Make sure your read all instructions that you will get with new stereo system before installing it.

5 Easy Steps to Remove Old Car Stereo

Before installing new stereo in your car, first step is to remove the old unit. Pay special attention to these steps as this will help you in installation process of new one but in reverse order.

1. Disconnect negative cable

Before you start, make sure you have set the handbrake and disconnected the negative battery. It is to prevent short circuiting of electrical system while installing car stereo.

Disconnect Negative Terminal From Battery

2. Remove Trim

Sometimes, accessing car stereo system requires the removal of one or more trim panels from your car’s dashboard. You should be careful while pulling off this trim because screws usually secure it. Locate and remove these screws to dissemble trim panels. Use pry tools or your hands to remove each piece of trim.

3. Loosen Screws or Nuts

Now that you have access to old stereo, you can start removal process. Loosen the screws or nuts with screwdriver to remove old stereo. Screws or nuts do not secure stereo system sometimes. In this case, you need to use radio-removal key to remove stereo system. This key is easily available at most car parts store. It is either in a circular shape or elongated horseshow shape.

Remove the Upper Screw from Dash

  • How to remove stereo with radio-removal key?

In order to loosen stereo from its housing, insert the keys into two small slots in the face of stereo. By doing so, you will release a mechanism securing stereo in place. Now slide these keys into every slot again until system loosen from its place. Old stereo can now easily be pulled out from its housing.

Grip the Side Bars

4. Pull the stereo out of panel

You need needle-nose pliers to hold the edge of old stereo and pull it off. Make sure you do it gently and in case it does not come out easily, you must have missed any components that are still holding system in place.

Use Hand and Grip Up side Down and Pull

5. Unplug old stereo connection

There are number of wires, which are connected to the back of stereo, and you need to unfasten each one of them. You should do it in following order:

  • Antenna wire should be disconnected first. It is usually a thick wire that is plugged in separately from the other wires. Now that it is disconnected, you can move the stereo more freely.
  • Now disconnect each of the wire harness connectors. Behind every stereo opening, you will find at least one plastic wiring harness. It connects stereo to your car’s electrical system. You can release these harnesses by pushing button or tab of plastic piece, which are holding them.

6. Take a picture

Although you would be paying attention while removing wires but at some point you could get confused. In this case, taking picture of every step would be best and will make your work easy while installing new stereo system.

How to Install New Car Stereo?

If you are on a tight budget but want a better sounding system in your car, install a stereo yourself. Installation of new system in your car is simple for anyone with wiring experience. This guide explains how to install it in your car’s dash.

  1. Match up the wires

To install the new stereo, first match wires of car’s harnesses with new stereo system’s harnesses. You will not have any difficulty in fitting them together because each harness connector is unique. You can verify whether you have connected all wires properly by checking wiring diagrams for both your vehicle and new stereo system.

Some car’s stereo system does not use wire harnesses. In this case, you need to match each wire manually. All wires are of different colors and you should only connect same colored wires of both stereo system and car wiring. There are two options for connecting the matched wires:

  • Crimping: This option is easier and faster. Make sure you use crimp connectors of correct size while crimping wires together
  • Soldering: It is more secure and stable connection that ensures maximum current transfer.
  1. Assemble the mounting kit

Today many stereo systems come with a separate mounting kit and one should only assemble it according to instructions given with it.

  1. Connect power source

Its time you connect power source. In case of wiring harness, this connection will establish whenever you connect the harnesses of car with new stereo harnesses.

You need to manually connect the power in case you are not using wiring harnesses. There are two power sources. One is switched power source (red wire) and other is constant power source, which is yellow wire. You need to determine which power source is equipped in your vehicle.

  1. Ground Wire

Good ground connection is important for proper performance of stereo. Your new system will not work whenever ground wire does not connect to bare metal. It will also result in poor audio output if ground wire connection is loose.

In case you are not using wiring harnesses, you need bolt, wire or screw that connects bare metal with your vehicle’s chassis. Now loosen the bolt and slip stereo’s ground wire (usually in black color) underneath the vehicle. Make sure you tighten bolt properly in the end.

  1. Connect Wires

Once your dash opening is ready for new stereo system, hold it near opening and start connecting the wires. Now attach stereo’s wiring adapter to your car’s wiring harness and plug in antenna cable.

  1. Test Car’s Stereo

Push stereo into dash opening gently but do not fasten it just yet. First, test it to make sure that everything is working perfectly. It is easier to fix any kind of problem when everything is still opened. In order to test stereo’s functionality, you need to reattach battery cable.

Turn on the power of stereo after installing it and test FM, AM, USB or CD components. Adjust balance and test fade settings to ensure each speaker is working correctly.

  1. Reconnect all components

Now it is time to fasten stereo into its place. You will hear clicking sound once stereo system is fully in. Reconnect all components and fasten in screws that are required to hold system in its place. Replace all knobs and wired components, which were removed before.

  1. Put trim back

Put all pieces of trim back in its place over the stereo. Ensure that you have secured all screws, nuts, and trim pieces properly.

  1. Time to check new stereo

Once you have checked everything and all wires and components are in its place again, check out new stereo system. Turn on power again and play different channels to make sure every setting is working correctly.

Replacement of car stereo is as simple as replacement of seat belts. It does not require professional services. You can perform this task easily with the help of above stated steps.

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