Steps to Replacing Your Old Stereo with a New One
When it comes to car stereo installation, there are two ways to go about it. You can either hire a professional installer, or you can attempt to do it yourself. On the one hand, by hiring a professional installer, you know that the work is guaranteed and that the person doing it has done it several times. That usually gives people enough security to warrant the cost of the installation. However, if you’re the type of person who isn’t afraid to learn a new skill and follow directions, installing the stereo yourself is the way to go. You’re going to save some money on labor by doing it yourself, and you won’t have to be without your car during the install.
To make things nice and easy to follow, we’ll take the entire process step-by-step from purchase all the way through to the end.
Step #1 – Purchase a Compatible Stereo for Your Vehicle
When it comes to purchasing a new stereo, you need to make sure that it will be compatible with your vehicle. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to install it. Thankfully, car stereo manufacturers make it easy for you to check which products are compatible with specific vehicles. Double-check and make sure your vehicle is included on that list before hitting the “buy now” button.
Step #2 – Taking Out Your Old Stereo
Before you put in your new car stereo, you’ll need to take your old one out. Set your parking brake and disconnect the negative cable from your car battery. This ensures that nothing in the electrical system short circuits and accidentally harms you or your equipment. You will then need to unscrew any screws securing the car stereo’s trim in place (the border of the car stereo). Once all the screws are removed, you can use a flathead screwdriver to gently pry the trim away from the car stereo.
After the trim is removed, the next step is pulling out the old car stereo. It will either have its own set of screws or nuts, or you’ll need to use a radio removal key (available online and at most auto parts stores). Once you pull the stereo out of its housing, you’ll see that it is connected to the car’s electrical system via wires. Take pictures of those wiring connections so that you have them for later reference. These pictures will be your guide for how to wire the new stereo. Once you have all the photographs you need, you can feel free to disconnect those wires from the old stereo, starting with the antenna wire, then each of the wire harness connectors. Look for a button or tab you can press to release these connectors.
Step #3 – Installing the New Stereo
Remember those pictures you took of the wiring when you took your original stereo? You’re going to need those when installing the new stereo. Obviously, the new stereo is going to come with instructions and a wiring diagram. Still, the pictures usually serve as a better reference point because the hook-ups should be pretty much the same. Match the wires using the diagram and your photos. Once you know where everything is going, you can go about connecting them.
The connection can be made in one of two ways: crimping or soldering. Crimping is going to be faster and easier; it also doesn’t require a soldering gun. However, by soldering the wiring connections, you ensure a much more stable connection, which will result in higher quality playback. The choice is up to you.
Once your connections are made with the wiring, you can start assembling your mounting kit. The new stereo will come with all the materials along with the assembly instructions. Follow them to the letter so that you can fit the metal housing sleeve into the mounting frame.
After that, you can finally connect the power source. If you have a wiring harness, this connection will be made when you connect the new stereo harnesses to the vehicle’s harnesses. If you aren’t using a wiring harness, you’ll need to manually connect the power. Check your wiring diagram if you get confused about this.
Next, you’ll need to ground the stereo. This connection will be made when you’re connecting the harness pieces if you’re using wiring harnesses. If not, you’ll need to locate the bolt, wire, or screw that connects the car’s metal chassis. Loosen the bolt, wire, or screw, pull the stereo’s ground wire underneath, and tighten it firmly. Make sure the connection is good. If it isn’t, it will result in poor playback.
Plugin the remaining wires (again, using photos and the diagram as reference). You’ll need to plug in the antenna cable and connect the output converter (if needed). Not a single one should be hanging loose. If there is, that means you missed something, and your install isn’t complete.
You’re now almost done. All that’s left is to test to ensure that everything is in good working order. Connect the negative cable back on your battery and turn on the power of the stereo. If everything sounds as it should, then you know you’re clear to finish the install by pushing the stereo fully into place until you hear a distinct click.
Once the stereo is fully engaged, you can go about fastening any screws and putting the trim back on. Double-check and make sure everything is firmly and securely in place. Once that’s done, you are now the proud installer of a new car stereo.
Professional Car Installation Options
For some of you, all those directions may have looked relatively easy to follow. However, if this may look like too much or you’re worried about doing it improperly, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local shop about car stereo installation. It’s a relatively inexpensive service, and you know the job will get done right. Car stereo installation in San Diego is widely available, and most shops can get it done on the same day you make the appointment. Call your local shop if you can’t figure out the installation on your own. There’s no shame in hiring a pro.