How To Install A Car Stereo – The Simple Way To Replace Your Car’s Head Unit


It may seem like a pretty bold move to get your hands on the electrical wiring of your car, but well-informed people don’t see it as a risk. That is why we have conjured a comprehensive guide on how to install a car stereo. This includes removing the pre-installed stereo and installing your new stereo.




Before you begin, I’d like to point out the most difficult parts of this project, so that you can take such areas more seriously. They include the wiring part, the fitting and mounting, and the trim and dash components. Of these three categories, the first part you’ll be dealing with is the trim and dash parts.

The Trim and Dash components:

In most cases, probably yours, you would be replacing an old stereo with a more sophisticated one, so, you have to be careful with the bolted areas as well as the other components on either side of the stereo area.

While removing the pre-installed stereo, make sure you’ve gotten all the bolts out before trying to force it out of the compartment to avoid breaking anything or cutting any wires.

Fitting and Mounting:

After emptying the stereo compartment, fitting the new stereo into the compartment is another huge deal. The most common problem in the category is that people don’t have a good measurement of the space before buying one. They only realize this after purchasing it and trying to fit it into the stereo compartment.

To deal with that, you can check online for the compartment size of your car type’s stereo space or go through the car’s instruction manual and make sure that you don’t exceed that size, or buy something less. The easiest feat is for those with the most common cars. Those parts are really easy to fit.



This is the most complicated part. If anything goes wrong with the wiring, you could damage the internal system workings of your car and then you would have to bring the professionals in. This could also damage your DIY confidence in other events.

Therefore, as a precaution, it’s always best to disconnect the car’s battery (that powers anything electrical in your car) before you even begin at all. Also, you have an advantage if the wires at the end of the stereo or at the ports of the car stereo compartment have adapters because then, it would be easy to make the right connections without faults.

If you’ve heeded my precautions, then you’re good to go.

Equipment Needed

One other important part of this installation is having the right set of equipment for the job. The major equipment you need include;

A pair of DIN tools, Screw drivers, wrenches, a pry tool, wire crimper and wire connectors, a soldering iron, a solder and a shrink tool (if there are no adapters).

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize that I haven’t mentioned anything about the pair of DIN tools I just included in the equipment needed. Here’s what they’re used for.

What are DIN tools used for?

If you’ve tried to remove the pre-installed stereo and you couldn’t find bots, then the stereo is probably fitted in with spring clips. To remove the spring clips, you need to insert the DIN tools into a pair of holes on either side of the stereo until you hear a click. Then, carefully spread the tools apart and pull out of the dashboard.

Otherwise, make sure you’ve gotten all the bolts out before pulling anything.



After removing the pre-installed stereo (either using a DIN unit or unscrewing the bolts on both sides with a screwdriver), you have to unplug the wires from the rear of the stereo. The two most important connections you need to detach are the plastic wiring harness connectors behind the stereo that connects it to the power supply, then the antenna. This may vary depending on the make and sophistication of your car’s dashboard.

However, at this point, you need to refer to your car’s user guide and/or the instruction manual included in the stereo package you want to install.

You could take a picture/make a video of the wiring to the previous stereo and consider the connections and make sure that you’ve matched the wires into their appropriate ports. The wires are usually colour coded, so it shouldn’t be that hard to figure that part out.

Connect to the power source. Depending on what type your vehicle uses, the power wires are usually red for switched power sources and yellow for constant power sources. It could also have both – refer to the instruction manual and the picture of the previously installed stereo you were advised to take earlier.

Ground the Stereo. If the wiring connection doesn’t have a harness, locate a screw, a bolt or a wire that is connected to the car’s metal chassis – that’s the earthing. Connect the stereo’s ground wire which is usually black, to this. You might need to undo the bolt or screw, slip the wire in, and tighten, or just connect the wires together – in case of the wire. Take this part seriously.

After making sure that all the wires are connected, and you’ve cross-checked with the instruction manuals and the picture you took, test the stereo before fitting it back into the compartment. If it works fine, then go ahead.

Using the DIN tools, make sure you hear that same click while you fit it in. For the bolted types, make sure exhaust all the bolts you collected while removing the previous one and there’s no space left. Then reconnect the trims and other components including the drawers and knobs.

Double check to make sure they’re all in place and secure. Then turn the power on again and test. Try out all the settings and make sure the functions are working.

Hope this helps in setting up your new car stereo.

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