Morgan D's 2003 Honda Civic gets a new stereo
A Crutchfield Advisor walks us through the installation process
A circuitous path, involving England, New York, rural Michigan, Indiana, and lots of parts in between brought Matthew Freeman to Charlottesville, where he's been writing about mobile audio/video for Crutchfield off and on since early 2000. He fosters an eclectic taste in film, and is fond of a wide range of music. A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, he found his way to the University of Notre Dame, where, in an act of charity unsurpassed in the history of Western civilization, he was given a B.A. in English.
More from Matt Freeman
Crutchfield Advisor Morgan's recent stereo upgrade gives us a good opportunity to share the experience of an average installation.
At Crutchfield, DIY is a major part of who we are. We enjoy being able to help customers, especially first-timers, install their own car A/V gear. To help make sure we set the stage properly for prospective do-it-yourselfers, we also try to provide as much information and perspective on the process as we can.
When we found out that Morgan, one of our advisors, wanted to upgrade to the Alpine UTE-52BT digital media receiver, we made him a deal: we'd provide the stereo if he let us document and share the process. Not surprisingly, he agreed.
Morgan drives a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid, a popular model for upgrading. Civics in general are pretty installer-friendly, which makes them ideal candidates for significant upgrades. Follow along for a general sketch of what the average installation involves.
When you buy a stereo from us, we offer deeply discounted installation gear and free instructions, available for most vehicles. Morgan's Honda gets a receiver mounting kit, a wiring harness, and a set of our exclusive, step-by-step MasterSheet™ instructions.
The first step for Morgan: using Posi-Products to connect the wiring harness we provided to the harness that comes with the Alpine stereo. This will then plug into the Civic's wiring harness, which will provide the receiver its power, and send musical signal to the speakers.
Next comes the dash disassembly. This involves removing climate control knobs and prying out the center dash assembly in order to get to the bolts behind it. Prying can be tricky (and initially a little scary for first-timers); a set of Bojo trim panel tools makes the job much easier.
With the dash apart and the factory stereo removed, it's time to set up the mounting kit. First step: securing the DIN sleeve. This sleeve wraps around the chassis of the reciever and holds it in place. Bendable metal tabs on the DIN sleeve secure it to the mounting kit.
Up next: attaching the mounting kit to the center dash assembly. The custom kit simply pops into place; as it's an exact match for the Civic's dash, it fits perfectly snug.
With the mounting kit in place, it's time to slide the receiver into its DIN sleeve. The receiver "locks" into place, thanks to tabs on the sides of the sleeve.
See the metal bracket sitting on the table in the picture above and to the right? That's part of the original factory stereo mounting system, and it gets used with the new stereo and mounting kit. Four screws hold it securely in place.
The last step before mounting the new stereo to the car: plugging the wiring harness into the Alpine receiver. The other end will plug into the car's wiring harness.
Just before mounting the new stereo in the dash, Morgan uses a Pro.Fit Wire Worm to route the cable for his new Bluetooth® microphone from the panel behind the steering wheel, where it'll sit, to the dash cavity, where it'll plug into the back of the stereo. External mics help callers hear the driver clearly.
The Bluetooth mic itself sits behind the steering wheel, where it can pick up Morgan's voice easily. An adhesive pad on the mic stand keeps it in place.
Now it's finally time to plug the stereo into the car's harness and mount the entire assembly to the dash by reversing the disassembly process.
Just before getting everything completely back together, Morgan tests the receiver to make sure everything works properly. This is a simple but crucial step that's prevented many a headache.
The finished product looks fantastic. Morgan's very happy with the performance, too. "This receiver is easy to use and intuitive. The Bluetooth performance is awesome both for calling and music. The multitude of adjustments you can make for the sound quality for hands-free calling is great. The TuneIt app is cool, too."
Vehicles in the Custom Car Showroom are submitted by customers and fans, and edited by Crutchfield writing staff. You can find more of these articles on the Showroom main page.