Ditch That Old Stock Stereo For A New, High Definition Audio Experience In Your Car

Some Tools You’ll Need

Before you go tinkering with your car’s stereo, you’re going to want to make sure you have the tools to even take the thing out. There are some obvious necessities, like a Philip’s screwdriver (bring a flat-head as well), electrical type and wire caps, but you probably didn’t consider how difficult your car’s dash or console may be to remove. Luckily on most vehicles, you won’t have this problem but with a double din stereo system (the tall, fat ones); you’re probably going to need to remove the surrounding material temporarily. That being said, a flat-head screwdriver will work on most occasions but there are certain tools that do the job as well like a pry tool.

Finding a Decent Stereo

When picking a stereo, there are a handful of things to consider. Note most modern stereo systems offer high-definition audio (really put those awesome speakers you bought to the ultimate test). Priority one should be check to see if it even fits in your car’s dash. Usually, this isn’t so hard given most stereos follow universal dimensions. As a back-up, a lot of manufactures ship their devices with a mounting rack that the stereo will, for the lack of a better word, be mounted on and in. There are extra holes and areas for screws, allowing adjustment on the fly. Refer to your vehicle’s manual for accurate specifications. You’ll also need to factor in amps and wattage – you risk either sucking your battery dry or practically frying your new car audio installation in extreme cases. You may also notice your automobile’s stereo is taller than it is wide. These are usually found in newer cars and they’re stock 9 times out of 10, but they’re referred to as double din stereos. They’re not much different than a single din, but they will require a bit more effort in removing the trim around the area during installation.

Preparing And Installing

Make sure you have all of your tools nearby (you’ll regret it if you don’t) and begin the process of prying off the trim. Do this carefully, given you don’t want to accidentally fracture any of the snapping tabs or plastic pieces that allow it to secure in place. For most people, this is actually the most annoying part – some of these are particularly difficult to remove. Once it is off, you can begin removing the stereo panel. On most models, you will find a series of nuts along the corners. Make sure you’ve found all the required screws and nuts to remove – you’ll know right away if it’s jammed. 

Be Careful… Really Careful

Gently begin prying the stereo from its panel. Once it’s given some room, it should slide right out. You’ll notice a series of plugs and connectors – make a memo that these are labeled and color-coded. Carefully remove them (you don’t want to accidentally short anything out). Your new stereo will come with its own set of cords, wires and connectors; these are marked as well, so you shouldn’t find too much trouble in connecting these pins to the correct circuits. If there are any extra cables (such as a miscellaneous ground wire), you can use the wire caps and electrical tape to seal it off and prevent a mishap.

The last few steps are the reverse of what was already achieved earlier during the initial install. Slide the stereo into the open panel and secure it with the nuts or screws provided by the manufacturer. If it didn’t come with any, that’s manageable: you can use the same ones that were installed previously (more times than not). Fasten the stereo into place and move on to some finishing touches.

Final Touches

Once that stereo is in, you can give a test. Flip the ignition and supply your car’s internals with some power – if it turns on without a problem, you’re halfway there! Test out a radio station or your favorite MP3. If audio comes through, then congratulations – you just successfully complete a marine audio installation with some tools and a DIY attitude. If you notice some issues with sound quality, remove the stereo and check your wiring. Lastly, place the dash or console shielding back where it came from. You may have to apply a bit of pressure for it to snap in place, but once it does, you’re ready to roll and enjoy a brand new, crystal clear sonic experience.