This may be a pretty basic post for a lot of you guys, but today we’re going to show you how to install a car stereo. My oldest son is heading back to college for the fall semester and really wanted to upgrade the stereo in his 1995 Chrysler Concorde before he left. We ended up replacing the factory cassette player with a modern CD head unit with aux/MP3/iPod inputs. To simplify the installation I used an aftermarket wiring harness adaptor and mounting kit, which are inexpensive and available for most vehicles from the 1970’s to present.
THINGS YOU’LL NEED:
- Radio (…courtesty of Captain Obvious!)
- Radio wiring harness adaptor, specific to your vehicle
- Radio installation/mounting kit, specific to your vehicle
- Wire strippers/crimpers
- Wire snips
- Electrical butt connectors
- Electrical tape
HOW TO INSTALL A CAR STEREO
- To get started, remove any necessary trim or bezels from around the radio. Be gentle to avoid breaking trim tabs that will make it difficult to reinstall. If you feel like you’re forcing it, especially with plastic trim, check to make sure there are no screws or hardware that need to be removed first.
- Remove the existing radio from the dash. Our Chrysler radio was held in place by two small bolts.
- Unplug the antenna and wires from the back of the radio.
- Test fit your aftermarket wiring harness to ensure it is the correct harness for your vehicle. Don’t trust the package without a test fit!
- Match the like wires from the radio to the harness. In most cases the wire colors will match, but confirm with a schematic because there can be differences in color for like circuits. The harness wires are usually marked. The radio may or may not be, but should come with a schematic.
- Connect each of the like wires with a butt connector, and crimp the connections securely. I hate soldering, but it’s a better way to make connections if you’re able to. I like to wrap the connections in electrical tape for a little extra insulation and security. If you have the patience, heat shrink tubing is a better way to wrap connections.
- If you have any unused wires left in either harness clip the ends and wrap them in electrical tape. Bare wire ends can cause short circuits or blown fuses after you put everything back together, which are no fun to troubleshoot.
- Select the frame from the installation kit that will best fit your radio and dash. Most kits are meant to work with multiple vehicles and have a few frames available. Install the frame with the factory mount hardware.
- Your radio will likely have a metal sleeve the head unit locks into. Slide the sleeve into the plastic frame and turn down the tabs that will hold it in the frame.
- Run the wires from behind the dash through the sleeve, plug the harness wires into the dash wires and into the back of the radio. If your radio has a separate ground strap, hook it up. Don’t forget to plug the antenna into the back of the radio.
- Test the radio for proper operation and reception now, before you lock everything in place and have to take it all apart if something doesn’t work. Don’t forget to check for backlighting to come on with your head/dash lights, and for the power antenna to operate correctly if you have one.
- Gently feed all the wires into the dash and tuck them back as far as you can. Then slide the radio into the sleeve until it locks.
- Replace the car’s dash trim, and if your installation kit or radio came with one, clip on the bezel.
- Rock on.