How to Install a New Car Radio
While the prospect of installing your own car radio may seem like a tall order without the help of a professional, it’s actually a simple process! Our step-by-step tutorial will have your radio installed in no time!
Remove Your Current Radio
The first step to installing a new car radio is getting rid of the old one.
Start by setting the parking break and then disconnecting the negative cable from your car battery. This is vital as it prevents a short circuit within your vehicle’s electrical system during the removal and installation process.
Remove the control panel by slipping a nylon prying tool between the heater control and the dashboard, carefully popping the panel off.
Remove the trim panels and bolts by first prying the radio trim panel out to expose the radio fasteners.
Remove the bolts.
Using your phone, take a photo of how the radio is wired so that you can refer back to it later in the installation process.
Next, disconnect the electrical connectors and antenna that are present in the back of the radio. Completely disconnect all the wires.
Finally, use your tools to slowly lift the radio out of the dashboard.
Install the New Radio
Next is the exciting part: installing your new car radio! This part is a little more in-depth, but still certainly simple enough to be done as a DIY project. Find the necessary steps below.
Using the photo that you took earlier of the radio wiring, match up the wires to your new stereo system. For added help, check the diagrams that accompany both your new radio and your car. Most times, wires are color coded, which makes it a cinch, so there’s no need to stress about this step!
To fully connect the wires, you will have to either crimp or solder them. We recommend crimping as it is quicker and easier, but if you feel confident soldering, feel free to use this method as it may provide a more secure connection.
Use zip ties to securely bundle your wires.
Assemble the mounting kit per the instructions your new radio came with. You will most likely need to fit it to a metal housing sleeve. To do so, push down firmly on the tabs around the metal sleeve. Secure them using a screwdriver.
Next, you will need to connect the radio to its power source. The connection will be fostered when you connect your wiring harness to the new stereo harnesses within the car. This step will also serve to ground the stereo.
Connect loose wires - you will probably have some leftover wires that need to be connected at this point of the process. Plug in the antenna and connect the wiring adapter to the harness.
If an output converter is needed to make your new stereo compatible with the audio system that exists in your car, you will need to connect it at this point.
Now’s the fun part! Reconnect battery and test your stereo to see if your hard work has paid off. You’ll want to test both the AM and FM settings as well as the CD component. Also give the volume, fade, and balance settings a whirl to make sure everything's in working order.
Now you have to finish up your installation and tie up some loose ends. First and most importantly, ensure that the stereo is firmly pushed into place. You should hear it click once it's fully in, so push gently until you hear that cue.
Now, make sure that the stereo will stay in place long-term. Secure any screws that were taken out during installation, connect loose wires, and reinstall any knobs that you took off of the system.
Since you removed the outer layer around the stereo system, now’s the time to reinstall it. Do so by snapping the trim back into place and replacing any necessary screws that were removed.
Try the stereo one more time to ensure nothing went astray as you finished up the process. As long as it is working, you are in business!