An aftermarket radio installation is not the easiest of DIY projects, but neither does it have to be the most difficult. If you have the right tools and information at your disposal it might not take you more than an hour or two to get the project done from start to finish. If you want to know how to install a car radio, there are several tips that might be helpful to you.
Understand the parts in your radio.
The radio is a fairly cut and dry piece of equipment if all you are doing is installing a completely new one, but there are some individual pieces that can be adjusted or changed to enhance the sound system in your car. For example, the capacitors will allow the amplifier to execute a range of sounds, and electrical transistors further amplify sounds. The higher the quality of the transistor, the higher the quality of the sound. If you want to make adjustments, a sound level meter could help you gauge and adjust a car stereo.
Consider using a radio wiring harness.
A stereo wiring harness will allow you to connect the factory wires from your car to your new radio without doing any damage to the factory plug. This is especially important if you are going to sell the car at some point and wish to replace the old radio without affecting the value of the car. Also, in some cases, cutting the factory wires will void the warranty. The harness looks like a modified version of the plug, and will go on top of that factory plug to allow you to successfully attach the new radio. Unfortunately, a wire harness might not be available for your particular car and radio.
Obtain a car stereo wiring diagram.
Whether you need to cut the factory wires, or whether you use a radio wiring harness, you will need to get the car stereo wiring diagram for your car’s year, make, and model to determine which stereo wires from the harness or car get connected to the wires on your new aftermarket stereo. You might find eight, 11, or even 16 wires that run from your car, or from the wire harness, and understanding what each of the different stereo wires indicates is easier with a car stereo wiring diagram. The diagram might show a picture of the individual wires and their indications, or it might list them in a similar manner to the following.
- Right Rear Speaker. Positive wire, brown and white.
- Right Rear Speaker. Negative wire, brown and blue.
They will also indicate other important wires, such as the ground wire, the battery wire which supplies power, and the illumination wire if it is applicable.
Before you begin, remember to disconnect the car battery, as you will be working with electronics, and unless you disconnect the battery you are at risk for electrocution. When you begin the stereo replacement process, it will be helpful to have on hand the wiring diagram, a screwdriver, wire strippers, electrical tape, wire cutters and crimpers, butt splices, and in some cases a soldering iron. Remember these tips, and if necessary find some pictures or a video to help guide the process. There are more in-depth resources online, video instructions, and a number of free wire diagrams available as well to help you successfully install your aftermarket radio.