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How to Install a Car Audio System

Car Stereo Systems



Car Audio Installation

There are all kinds of car audio setups. The most simple install is replacing a factory AM/FM radio/CD player with a new after-market stereo. The new unit may have everything the old unit had plus extras such as iPod/USB hookup, MP3 capability, iPhone calling, Bluetooth, HD radio or satellite radio, DVD player, navigation and more. For a simple head unit replacement you will still use your existing speakers and existing wiring inside the car. You are just replacing the head unit.

More complex installs involve adding power amplifiers, subwoofers, additional speakers and wiring. For these installs you may want to consult a pro install shop or you could do it yourself if you have experience with electrical, audio/video setups, wiring and tools.

SIMPLE INSTALL - REPLACE HEAD UNIT.

What you need: a new car stereo with all the features you want, which is also called a head unit, wire strippers, electrical tape, a screwdriver set, socket wrench, and wire cutters/crimper. Also you may need a wiring harness adapter, butt connectors or a soldering iron and solder.

STEP by STEP

1) Buy a new stereo head unit. Purchase one that fits correctly where your old factory unit was located. You may need to use the old mounting brackets off the factory head unit. In addition, when purchasing a stereo you might want to get a wiring harness which is specific for your new stereo and your vehicle's make, model and year. These are available for most car makes and models for years going back 10 years or more.

Car audio head units come in a single DIN size about 7 in. wide by 2 in. tall and the double DIN size, 7 in. wide by 4 in. tall. You may need to buy an install kit for your unit if the height sizes do not match up. Usually a double DIN opening in the dash can be used for a single DIN head unit by using a tray or other covering on the bottom 2 in. You also need to consider the depth. Usually the depth of the unit will fit into the dash but measure to be sure. Many head units appear to be wider or taller than the standard DIN sizes due to the front panel faceplate but the actual box of the hardware containing the CD player/radio, for example, is standard DIN size. Install kits specific for your car are available to flush the new faceplate with the dash.





2) Make sure the engine is turned off. Disconnect the negative (black) car battery cable. Never work on any part of your car's electrical system with the car battery connected, as the electrical shock could be fatal.

REMOVE OLD RADIO

3) Depending on your exact vehicle, the removal process varies. Generally you must take apart the dash components to get at the radio. Remove the dash panel covering surrounding your car stereo. Typically you just pry a plastic frame off using a flathead screwdriver. Some cars may not have a frame covering because the stereo is flush with the dash. Unscrew and remove your old stereo (head) unit. Usually four screw bolts hold the head unit in place. Remove these and pull unit partially out. On the back of the unit there will either be a batch of individual wires or a plug connecting a lot of wires. If you find a bunch of wires, do not take them apart just yet. You will need to do them one at a time. Some units have several plugs with multiple wires. Also there may be an antenna wire connected to the unit. This needs to be removed as well as the wiring harness in order to disconnect the head unit.

Example of required process to remove radio head unit:

Newer cars may have a more complicated removal process than older cars.
2007-2008 Toyota Camry Factory Radio Removal

1. Remove the top center air vent assembly. It comes straight out but there are clips along the top and bottom seams. Disconnect harness.
2. Remove shift knob and the shift console cover by gently pulling up to release clips. Don't break any of the plastic snap pieces.
3. Remove shift console top cover trim by gently pulling up. Note harness.
4. Remove the vertical trim columns to the right and left of the storage box (that is below the climate controls) by pulling straight out - again releasing clips.
5. The space behind the vertical trim columns will reveal screws that hold down the storage box. Remove the screws and partially pull out the box.
6. (Steps 2 thru 5 are necessary to gain access to two bottom bolts securing the bottom of the head unit/climate control assembly) Remove the two bottom bolts.
7. (Step 1 gains access to two top bolts securing the top of the head unit/climate control assembly) Remove the two top bolts.
8. Slide head unit/climate control assembly out. Disconnect wiring harnesses.
Before you start - disconnect the negative battery terminal and set your shifter as far back as possible.



4 Screw bolts holding stereo in dash. Remove in order to pull factory stereo from the car's dash. Use a socket wrench.



Old head unit removed. Disconnect wiring harness(s) and pull out antenna wire. Dash should look like the above image.

INSTALLING NEW HEAD UNIT

4) Now you must decide how you are going to wire up the new head unit.



The above image shows the head unit's male connection pins for power, ground and the speakers. Before, your old head unit was connected using the female factory wiring harness directly to the factory head unit. However, with your new head unit, you probably have a different pin configuration and your old factory wiring harness will not be compatible, physically or electrically. Therefore, you have to wire up the car's existing wires for power, ground and speakers to the new head unit's pin setup. This can be done wire by wire manually using butt connectors or soldering or you can use an adapter to plug into the factory wiring harness.



Adapter harness plugs into factory wiring harness.

This is the recommended method but you could just cut off your factory harness and attach each wire manually using solder, butt connectors or just electrical tape over twisted wire connections. You still need a chart showing what each wire is used for so you know which wires to connect. This information is available online or in your vehicle service manual. The following is one example.

PIN USE IN DASH Wire Color New Radio Wire Color
A Right Front Speaker (+) Green Gray
B Left Front Speaker (+) Pink White
C +12 Volt Ignition Wire Gray Red
D +12 Volt Battery Wire Blue w/ Yellow Stripe Yellow
E Right Front Speaker (-) Blue Gray w/ Black Stripe
F Left Front Speaker (-) Purple White w/ Black Stripe
G Ground Wire Black Black
H Power Antenna Wire 1  Blue (join wires 1 & 2
I Power Antenna Wire 2  together to this blue wire)
J Do Not Use  
K Right Rear Speaker (+) Red Purple
L Left Rear Speaker (+) Black Green
M Right Rear Speaker (-) White Purple w/ Black Stripe
N Do Not Use  
O Do Not Use  
P Left Rear Speaker (-) Yellow Green w/ Black Stripe




Wiring Harness Pins





Connect the ground wire (black) to anything metal on the car. Make sure it's a good, solid piece of metal actually connected to the chassis. And to connect, its best to put a small ring terminal on the end of the wire and use a sheet metal screw to hold it down. May have to drill a small pilot hole. This will be the most solid connection. Use a "ring terminal" and "star washer".
www.wiringproducts.com
www.almabolt.com

You can solder and shrink wrap your connections. It's not hard, and it'll be worth it to be certain things won't come undone. If you just twist and tape, eventually things slowly loosen and can come undone. Also very hot or cold temps can make the electrical tape either lose it's stickiness or just slide off. Here's one of many tutorials showing how to do it: Soldering wires

You'll get familiar with wire colors. They are mostly standard. The yellow wire always supplies power to the head unit so that it can keep it's memory for radio staion presets, base & treble settings, etc. The red wire is powered only when the key is turned on and gives power to the head unit. The orange wire is powered when you have your parking lights or headlights on, it tells the head unit to change it's coloring or dim or whatever feature the unit has so it's brighter in the daytime and dimmer at night. The blue wire sends power from the head unit downstream to tell amplifiers to turn on.

5) Plug your new wiring harness into the connector, if you were able to purchase one. This wiring harness will then plug into the backside of your new car stereo. If you were able to do this, then you can skip steps 6-8.

6) You will need to connect each of the wires manually if you did not buy a wiring harness. Connect positive wires from each of your speakers to positive connectors on the backside of your stereo first. Next, connect negative wires from each of your speakers to negative connectors on the stereo. If you find only one wire coming from each speaker this means that they have been grounded at the chassis. If this is the case, new speaker wiring must be installed.

7) Connect the -/black (ground) wire on the stereo to a bolt or screw near where the stereo is mounted within the dash. This attachment must be made to metal, not fiberglass or plastic.

8) Connect both +/red ignition power wires and the 12 constant wires to the new radio. Refer to the installation manual for correct placement of these wires.

9) You should now have a single connecter which can be hooked to the proper wires in your vehicle, either through the new connection made in steps 6-8 or from your wiring harness.

10) Slide the new stereo into your mounting bracket, which should have been included with purchase. In some cases, you may need to use your old bracket from your original stereo.

11) Plug the wiring harness connector into the backside of your new radio. You should see one, single wire hanging unaccounted for, coming from your old system. This wire is your antenna. Plug this wire into your new stereo unit. You may also see a power antenna wire, which must be connected as well.

12) Slide the stereo into dash slot. Test it before screwing it in. Reconnect your battery cable. Start your engine to power up the stereo. Turn on some music and listen for the performance of each speaker. If everything seems to be working, bolt your new stereo into place and replace your dash cover(s).



This harness is used to wire up to the aftermarket radio harness and plug into the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) wire harness behind radio for 1987-2008 Toyota models.

Provides power to aftermarket radio
Allows speaker connection
Fits into factory plug

WIRE CONNECTIONS

There are 3 ways to attach wires together:

1. Twist bare ends together and wrap parallel to the wire, then wrap with good electrical tape. When all wires are taped, then tape all together with electrical tape into a bundle.
2. Butt connectors and a crimping tool.
3. Solder and wrap with electrical tape.

Butt / Wire Connectors

Butt wire connectors, sometimes known as butt splices, securely fasten two wires with a crimp connection. Butt connectors are available either insulated or non-insulated.



These heat shrinkable, nylon butt connectors feature an all weather seal. Installation is simple. Select the correct butt connector for the wire gauge, strip wires and insert into crimp barrel, crimp connection using the correct tool, then apply heat until the tubing shrinks and adhesive/sealant flows making water-tight connection.



Wire cutter/stripper and crimping tool

SOLDERING WIRES



Vehicle specific wire colors:

1996 Cadillac Fleetwood Car Stereo Radio Wiring Diagram
Radio Constant 12V+ Wire: Orange
Radio Ignition Switched 12V+ Wire: Yellow
Radio Ground Wire: Black
Radio Illumination Wire: Gray
Radio Antenna Trigger Wire: Pink
Left Front Speaker Wire (+): Tan
Left Front Speaker Wire (-): Gray
Right Front Speaker Wire (+): Light Green
Right Front Speaker Wire (-): Dark Green
Left Rear Speaker Wire (+): Brown
Left Rear Speaker Wire (-): Yellow
Right Rear Speaker Wire (+): Dark Blue
Right Rear Speaker Wire (-): Light Blue


2006 Cadillac DTS Car Radio Wiring Diagram
Car Radio Battery Constant 12v+ Wire: Dark Green/Tan
Car Radio Accessory Switched 12v+ Wire: N/A
Car Radio Ground Wire: Black
Car Radio Illumination Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Dimmer Wire: Yellow
Car Stereo Antenna Trigger Wire: Pink
Car Stereo Amp Trigger Wire: Pink
Car Stereo Amplifier Location: Behind driver side rear seat in trunk.
Left Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Tan
Left Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Dark Green/Red
Right Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Light Green/White
Right Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Light Green
Left Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Brown/White
Left Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): Brown
Right Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Dark Blue
Right Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): Tan/Red


2005 Cadillac Escalade EXT Car Audio Wire Color Codes
Car Radio Battery Constant 12v+ Wire: Orange
Car Radio Accessory Switched 12v+ Wire: Run a wire to the steering column and use the orange wire in the ignition switch harness.
Car Radio Ground Wire: Black/White
Car Radio Illumination Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Dimmer Wire: Brown/White
Car Stereo Power Antenna Trigger Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Amp Turn-On Trigger Wire: N/A
Left Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Tan
Left Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Gray
Right Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Light Green
Right Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Dark Green
Left Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Brown
Left Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): Yellow
Right Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Dark Blue
Right Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): Light Blue
Car Subwoofer Speaker Positive Wire (+): N/A
Car Subwoofer Speaker Negative Wire (-): N/A


2001 Cadillac Seville Car Radio Installation Instructions
Car Radio Battery Constant 12v+ Wire: Orange
Car Radio Accessory Switched 12v+ Wire: Red
Car Radio Ground Wire: Black
Car Radio Illumination Wire: Yellow/Black
Car Stereo Dimmer Wire: Brown
Car Stereo Antenna Trigger Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Amp Trigger Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Amplifier Location: Mounted To Back Of Rear Seat Behind Trim
Left Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Tan
Left Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Gray
Right Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Light Green
Right Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Dark Green
Left Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Brown
Left Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): Yellow
Right Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Dark Blue
Right Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): Light Blue


2001 Toyota Camry Car Radio Wire Diagram
Car Radio Battery Constant 12v+ Wire: Blue/Yellow
Car Radio Accessory Switched 12v+ Wire: Gray
Car Radio Ground Wire: Brown
Car Radio Illumination Wire: Green
Car Stereo Dimmer Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Antenna Trigger Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Amp Trigger Wire: Pink/Blue
Car Stereo Amplifier Location: Located to the right of the glovebox behind the passenger side of the dash.
Left Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Pink
Left Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Violet
Left Front Tweeter: Powered by the same wires as the left front speaker.
Right Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Light Green
Right Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Blue
Right Front Tweeter: Powered by the same wires as the right front speaker.
Left Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Black
Left Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): Yellow
Right Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Red
Right Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): White


2002 Toyota Tundra Car Stereo Wire Diagram
Car Radio Battery Constant 12v+ Wire: Blue/Yellow
Car Radio Accessory Switched 12v+ Wire: Gray
Car Radio Ground Wire: Brown
Car Radio Illumination Wire: Green
Car Stereo Dimmer Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Antenna Trigger Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Amp Trigger Wire: N/A
Left Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Pink
Left Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Violet
Right Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Green
Right Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Blue
Left Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Black
Left Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): Yellow
Right Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Red
Right Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): White


2005 Toyota Camry Car Stereo Wiring Diagram
Car Radio Battery Constant 12v+ Wire: Blue/Yellow
Car Radio Accessory Switched 12v+ Wire: Gray
Car Radio Ground Wire: Brown
Car Radio Illumination Wire: Green
Car Stereo Dimmer Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Antenna Trigger Wire: N/A
Car Stereo Amp Trigger Wire: Pink/Blue
Car Stereo Amplifier Location: Located to the right of the glovebox behind the passenger side of the dash.
Left Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Pink
Left Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Violet
Left Front Tweeter: Powered by the same wires as the left front speaker.
Right Front Speaker Positive Wire (+): Light Green
Right Front Speaker Negative Wire (-): Blue
Right Front Tweeter: Powered by the same wires as the right front speaker.
Left Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Black
Left Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): Yellow
Right Rear Speaker Positive Wire (+): Red
Right Rear Speaker Negative Wire (-): White

» Car Audio & Electronics
» GM Car Radios

Delco Radio Wiring

Use harness adapters in case you need to plug the original radio back in.

American-made GM products are made with Delco electronics. Standard GM radios, whether they were installed in Chevy, Cadillacs or GMC trucks, are all Delco radios with a standard set of plastic plugs and wire colors. Models up to 1989 or 1990 have a different set of plugs and color codes from models manufactured subsequently.

Instructions

Older (Up to 1989 to 1990) Delco Radio Wiring

1 Locate three plastic plugs fanned out of a single harness bundle. Plug colors are blue, white and black. Each plug has four pin positions and may have four corresponding wires. All plugs are almost square, and have alignment ridges that guide insertion to specific slots at the rear of GM radios. A fourth, smaller and flatter plug may accompany the other three. This plug is usually connected for electronic preset and clock memory.

2 Locate the following colors on the blue plug for rear speaker connections:
Right: Negative=light blue, Positive=dark blue
Left: Negative=yellow, Positive=brown.

3 Locate the following colors on the white plug for front speaker connections:
Left: Positive=tan, Negative=light gray
Right: Positive=light green, Negative=dark green

4 Locate the following colors on the black plug for power connections:
Yellow=12 volts ignition, black=ground, gray=illumination, pink, if present, activates a power antenna.
The small, flat plug has an orange wire to a 12-volt battery for preset and clock memory.

5 Trace each wire through the adapter plugs, strip the ends applicable to the stereo you are installing and use crimp connectors to mate the wires with the stereo's output wires. Use a test light to test power and illumination connections. Use a multimeter to test for ground wire continuity and speaker connections.

Newer (1990 and up) Delco Radio Wiring

1 Find a harness bundle with two four-connection plugs for speakers, and one six-connection plug for power connections.

2 Find the following colors on the front-speaker, four-connection plug: Light gray=left negative, tan=left positive. Light green=right negative, dark green=right positive.

3 Find the following colors on the rear-speaker, four-connection plug: Light blue=right negative, dark blue=right positive. Yellow=left negative, brown=left positive.

4 Find the following colors on the six-connector plug:
Yellow=12 volts switched
Black=ground
Gray=dimmable illumination
Pink=power antenna activate
Orange=12-volt battery wire for preset and clock memory

5 Trace each wire through the adapter plugs, strip the ends applicable to the stereo you are installing and use crimp connectors to mate the wires with the stereo's output wires. Use a test light to test power and illumination connections. Use a multimeter to test for ground wire continuity and speaker connections.

General Motors Radio Wire Harnesses

Car Stereo Radio
Unlock a Radio

Car Audio and Install Links of interest:

www.installdr.com
www.tune-town.com
www.tune-town.com harnesses

www.installer.com
River Oaks Car Stereo
4129 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX. 77027
713-626-7628

www.parts-express.com
www.parts-express.com Car Audio

Parts Express - Your Source For Audio, Video & Speaker Building Components

Parts Express • 725 Pleasant Valley Dr. • Springboro, Ohio 45066 • USA • 800-338-0531

www.autozone.com

Crutchfield has a website tool to let you see what head units fit your car and a shopping guide showing specific products based upon your vehicle selection.

www.crutchfield.com Outfit my Car

www.crutchfield.com Audio Video

call 1-800-319-8264 for advice, consultation.

iPod® Car Stereo Adapter Guide
How to choose an iPod adapter

Stereo Adapter

These days, iPod control can be integrated with almost any vehicle's stereo by using vehicle specific adapters.
What does an iPod adapter do?

iPod control adapters make it easier than ever to listen to your iPod in the car. In fact, a control adapter can make your whole in-car iPod experience better: better sound due to the direct audio connection, your iPod's battery stays charged, and it's safer because you don't have to play with the iPod. Different adapters offer different degrees of control.
Basic features you gain from using an iPod adapter in the car

Music controls — Use the stereo's controls to play, pause, stop, forward, and reverse the music.
Access to playlists — You'll have access to playlists, but some adapters, especially those for factory stereos, limit the number of playlists you can get to. Many adapters allow song searching.
Power — The iPod is powered by the adapter and the battery charges while connected.
Locked iPod — In most cases, the iPod's controls are locked out — you have to use your stereo's controls, so you can tuck the iPod safely away in your console or glovebox.

Speed: How fast do the car stereo and iPod communicate?
Speed of control depends on the type of adapter you have.
USB connection — Stereos that have built-in iPod controls and connect to the iPod via USB input are the fastest at relaying information between the iPod and stereo. This style of interface is found on a lot of aftermarket stereos, like the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X493. In many cases, you can use the cable that came with your iPod to connect and control it from the stereo. But, shop carefully — some USB inputs are not compatible with iPods. They only work with other USB devices and thumb drives.

Kenwood Excelon KDC-X493
Use the cable that came with your iPod to control it with the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X493 CD receiver.

Built-in iPod controls — Some stereos have the iPod controls built in using either a front-panel or rear-panel USB slot. You can use the cable that came with your iPod to connect it, or you can purchase an additional cable so you can leave your other one at home.

Kenwood
The Kenwood KCA-iP101 lets you leave your original iPod cable at home.

External control boxes — Often, the iPod controls are housed in an outboard box that connects to the stereo and iPod. This creates an extra step in the processing chain, and tends to have some lag time between song selection at the stereo and playback from the iPod. This is the most common option for aftermarket stereos and the usual method of controlling an iPod with a factory stereo.

USA Spec iPod adapter USA Spec makes iPod adapters for factory stereos.
Functionality: How easy is it to control your iPod from the stereo?

Functionality refers to how easy it is to manipulate the iPod's functions from your car stereo. This factor is usually more dependent on the stereo than the iPod adapter, but, as mentioned above, adapters vary in how much access they grant to the iPod's features.

The stereo's display: Consider a basic display with a single line of text, limited to 8 or 10 characters visible at a time. Song text might scroll across the display. You probably have to switch view settings to see artist name, song title, and playlist, or there might be only numeric designations for playlists. Factory stereos usually fall into this category.

Compare that display to one with three lines of text that shows you all of the song information at once. Searching for songs and folders is going to be much easier on a display that shows this much detail.

Kenwood Excelon KDC-X493
The large wheel mimics the iPod's click wheel on the Alpine iDA-X305 digital media receiver.

The stereo controls: Just as the display is important for being able to see what you're doing, having radio controls that are suited for searching and accessing a song library affects iPod control too.

When it comes to controlling an iPod, newer Alpine head units are among the easiest to use. Their "Percentage Search" feature uses the radio preset buttons to jump through playlists.

iPod Connection

Built-in audio/video
Built-in audio only
Optional audio/video
Optional audio only
Optional audio only (no iPod controls)


The first two options are the best solution: these stereos have iPod connections built in; you don't need to buy any optional adapters and they tend to give you the best level of control.

The next two options represent the bulk of the car stereos. These are the stereos that require some form of optional adapter in order to connect your iPod. If the adapter is just a cable, iPod controls are built into the stereo, and control tends to be at full speed, so you get fast song-retrieval on par with the first two categories above. If the adapter is an outboard control box, communication can be a little slower, since the box is acting as a "middle man" between the iPod and stereo.

The fifth category consists of a small group of stereos that don't have control capability, but do have an adapter that offers audio input and also charges the iPod's battery.

Almost all stereos offer some for of iPod control, but you don't always know if the stereo does it in a way that's satisfying to YOU. By separating the stereos according to iPod compatibility, we hope that you'll have an easier time finding the right stereo.












 
All information on this site is provided "as is" without any warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, including but not limited to fitness for a particular use. Any user assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and use of this information. Verify all wire colors and diagrams before applying any information.