Surprisingly, it is fairly simple to replace your old factory stereo with a brand new head-unit. The most important thing is to keep a clear head and take your time during the installation. If you do not, all you will end up with is a headache and problems.
1. Remove the stereo
Tools you will need for this installation include a flat-head screwdriver, needle nose pliers, and depending on your vehicle you may need radio removal tools. To begin, set your parking brake and disconnect the negative battery terminal under the hood of your vehicle. Next, remove any dash trim that is covering the stereo with your panel removal tool and some light force. Begin to work your stock stereo out of it’s pocket by pulling outwards with the removal tools, or by angling the screwdriver behind the stereo. Be very careful not to damage any of the surrounding trim. Needle nose pliers may help to pull on small tabs or clips that may be securing the stereo. Slide the stereo out and unplug the harness and antenna. You may now set your old receiver to the side and begin preparing for the new stereo.
2. Preparing to install the new stereo
Most vehicles will have a wiring harness available that will convert your factory plug into bare wires that you can connect to your stereo harness. Begin properly making the connections between your vehicle wiring harness and your stereo wiring harness one wire at a time (ex. RR+ to RR+, Ground to Ground etc). Butt connectors will allow for the easiest connections for these types of installations. If you are having trouble determining what each wire does, you may check your harness packaging and manuals for wire guides, or visit our knowledge base article “Wiring Harness Color Standards”. Once all connections are complete, go through and use zip ties or heat shrink to be sure the wires don’t move around after you permanently install the stereo.
3. Installing the new stereo
Connect one end of your harness to your vehicle, the other end plug into your new car stereo, and plug the antenna back in. Re-connect your negative battery terminal and turn the key forward to see if your stereo powers on. You may need to press or hold the power button on your stereo if it does not automatically turn on. If it powers up just fine, try playing some music at medium volume and individually check each speaker for clear sound output. Once everything is working, you can go ahead and use the dash kit specific to your vehicle (or the DIN cage for certain vehicles) to finish installing and securing your new receiver. Don’t forget to put back any loose screws or trim panels you removed earlier!
For more complicated and integrated applications, you may need to seek technical advice from a professional. We hope this guide helps you in the right direction for your stereo installation. Remember every vehicle is different but this guide shows the basic steps to properly put a stereo into most vehicles today. For a more in-depth tutorial, you may visit our knowledge base article “How to Install a Car Stereo”.