Installing a Car Hard Drive: Wiring

hard drive unit
  • 1-2 hours
  • Advanced
  • 100-500
What You'll Need
External USB computer hard drive (Note - choose an external hard drive that can use an external power source, as most stereo head units that support USB can't power the drive like a computer can.)
Stereo head unit that offers USB support
100 Watt (or more) DC to AC Power Inverter
Cigarette lighter adapter for inverter
Double-sided tape
Self tapping sheet metal screws
Drill with drill bits
Rubber grommets or washers

If you want to enjoy all of your favorite MP3s in your older vehicle, you can install an external USB hard drive that can hold literally thousands of your favorite tunes. Installing a USB computer hard drive in your car is not difficult and can be done in less than an hour. This simple guide will show you how.

Step 1 - Disconnect Negative Battery Cable

Before you start, you should disconnect the negative battery cable from the terminal post on your car battery. You will be installing a power inverter in your vehicle that could cause a short while performing the installation. So, just to be safe, you should remove the battery cable.

Step 2 - Select Location for Hard Drive Installation

Choose an installation location for the external USB hard drive you will be using with your stereo head unit. When considering the location, you should realize that the USB protocol does have limits on the length of the cable. The length of USB cable you'll be able to use will depend upon the USB protocol used with your car stereo head unit. If you are unsure of the protocol used with your unit, try to keep the cable length between the hard drive and the stereo less than three meters. Therefore, consider installing the hard drive on the dash of the vehicle or on the console. Secure the hard drive in place with double-sided tape.

Step 3 - Install DC to AC Power Inverter

power inverter

Choose a location to install the power inverter. A good location is under the passenger seat or another area on the floor board that is out of the way. Use a drill to create four screw holes that are slightly smaller than the diameter of the self tapping metal screws you will be using. Then, place the screws through rubber grommets and use them to secure the power inverter to the floor board.

Step 4 - Plug Inverter into Cigarette Lighter

Plug the cigarette lighter adapter into the power inverter and the cigarette lighter on your dash or console.

Step 5 - Plug Hard Drive into Power Inverter

Plug in the power cable for your USB hard drive into the rear of the unit and then plug the plug-in into the DC to AC power inverter.

Step 6 - Plug Hard Drive into Stereo Head Unit

car stereo

Connect the USB cable to the external USB drive. Then, plug the USB connector into the USB port on your car stereo head unit.

Step 7 - Tuck Wires Out of the Way

Try to hide the wiring for the USB hard drive and power inverter as much as possible. You may be able to run the wiring under the dash or bottom of the console. You can use cable ties to help organize the wiring as well.

Step 8 - Reconnect Battery Cable

Reconnect negative battery cable to terminal post on car battery.