How to fit a car radio system

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How to fit a car radio system

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Fitting a car radio system is easier than you think and by doing it yourself you’ll save quite a bit of cash! Not only will you save money, you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing you took care of it personally. Installing a radio may sound intimidating at first, but the mechanics are actually quite simple, and in the end it’s well worth your time.


Electrical tape is the simplest way to connect the stereo wires, but you can also use a wire crimper or a soldering gun. If you have an older car (prior to 2000), you might need to buy an antenna adapter. There is a danger of electrocution if you do not disconnect the ground cable from the battery before working on any electrical components of the car.


Turn off your car alarm. You may need a code from the company that installed it. Disconnect the ground cable from your car battery. This is the black cable, not the red one. Take off any dash panels surrounding the radio inside your car. The way to do this differs with every vehicle, and some are more complicated than others. The owner's manual for your vehicle should contain instructions on how to take the dash apart. Remove the old stereo from the dash but don't disconnect it yet.


Connecting the Stereo - Inspect the back of the old stereo. Look at how it's hooked up to get an idea of what you're working with. The most simple connection is when the wiring harness just plugs straight into the back of the stereo. It's also possible there's an adapter involved. In some cases, a former owner might have jerry-rigged the stereo and left you with a tangle of individual wires, with no harness keeping them together.


Unplug the old stereo and set it aside. Inspect the wiring harness on your new stereo and see if you can plug it into the dash connection. If not, you can purchase a wire harness adapter kit from most electronics stores or online for around £10. If you're dealing with individual wires sticking out of the dash, bundle them together and tape them. Leave at least 2 inches of play at the top as this will make the wires easier to work with.


Match the old wires in the dash to the wires from your new stereo by colour. Even with slight variations between manufacturers, the wires should be the same colours or at least close enough to match.


Line up the matched wires. Stereo wires either supply power to the radio, or they connect to the speakers. There will be one positive wire and one negative wire going to each speaker. Positive wires will be solid-coloured or coloured with a white stripe, and negatives will be coloured with a black stripe.


Connect the wires by twisting together the copper wire sticking out of the ends. If there is not enough exposed copper, trim away some of the rubber insulation with a set of wire cutters. Once the copper tips are twisted together, secure them with electrical tape. Make sure to completely cover all exposed copper.


Set the new stereo in the dash and reconnect the battery cable. Turn on the car and play with your new stereo. Test all the buttons and listen to a few songs. Make sure all the speakers work.


Push the stereo all the way into the dash. Secure it there. If your stereo does not fit in the dash, you need to buy a dash adapter kit.


Replace the dash panels.


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