2002-2005 Dodge Ram 1500 Regular Cab
2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005
Charlie Pastorfield writes about car audio for Crutchfield. Raised in Connecticut and the U.S. Virgin Islands, he graduated from the University of Virginia, but was having way too much fun to leave Charlottesville. After a long, beautiful career touring the East Coast from Boston to Atlanta as a professional guitarist (Skip Castro Band, The Believers), he married Emilie, had two daughters (Morgan and Emma), and got his first full-time job at Crutchfield. Still an extremely active musician, he's now a member of The Gladstones, a 4-piece group that plays just about anything, and Alligator, an 8-piece band that plays late 60's Grateful Dead.
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2002-05 Dodge Ram 1500 regular cab (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Overview of the Dodge RamThe Dodge Ram 1500 regular cab truck, with its oversized grille, is one of the most distinctive vehicles on the road today, and its retro styling really says "Made in the U.S.A." The 2002-05 version is a particularly cool-looking vehicle, so it's not surprising that lots of Ram owners want to upgrade their factory audio systems — they plan on hanging on to their trucks. As with any regular cab truck, you've got some space issues when it comes to bass, but you can definitely set up this Ram with a sound system that really rocks.
The Ram's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
Two options are available for these Dodge Ram 1500 regular cab trucks: the standard 4-speaker system, and the Infinity system with seven speakers. Either version will have the speaker grilles in the dash, so the best way to tell which system you've got is to look down through your windshield into those dash openings — if you see speakers, you have the Infinity system. It can get a little confusing at times figuring out how to upgrade the Infinity system in this truck, but we'll talk about that later. The good news is that you have lots of options for replacing your radio and speakers with either system, and you'll find some really nice subwoofer enclosures made specifically for this popular truck.
The stereo mounting kit for the 2002 Ram 1500 (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory radio
The Ram's factory radios are reasonably easy to remove and replace.
Standard 4-speaker system
This Dodge truck came with an AM/FM/cassette receiver in the dash, with the option of the Infinity AM/FM/cassette/CD deck. You can install a DIN radio (2" tall) in the Ram's dash. You'll need a mounting kit to trim out the new radio, a wiring harness that allows you to connect your new radio without having to cut the factory wiring, and an antenna adapter that allows you to connect the Dodge antenna plug to your new radio. These installation parts are available at a great price with most orders..
The mounting kit for this truck holds any DIN (2" tall) radio in the dash opening. You have to remove the entire receiver/climate control trim panel to access the stereo, but that's not too tough. Here's what the kit looks like installed.
Starting with the 2004 Ram, you'll need a special adapter to connect a new car stereo to the Infinity amp. You'll want to buy a new radio that has two sets of preamp outputs in order to connect this special adapter, and the bad news is that you'll lose the ability to fade from your front to rear speakers. The good news is that a new stereo will bring new life to the Infinity system because the Infinity amp will see a cleaner, more powerful signal.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you consider a new car stereo:
- If you have factory Sirius Satellite Radio, you'll lose this capability if you replace the factory radio.
- If your vehicle is equipped with a factory hands-free cell phone interface, you'll lose this capability if you replace the factory radio.
- If you have factory navigation, you'll lose it when you replace your radio.
- Video receivers with flip-out monitors aren't a good idea in this vehicle because of the way the dash is shaped.
If you like the sound of the factory system, but it's just not loud enough for you, you might consider JL Audio's Clean Sweep or some other factory sound processor. This type of processor allows you to tie an amp (and even new speakers) into your factory radio, for a big boost in performance.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, flat blade screwdriver, panel tool.
Steering wheel audio controls
There are two companies (PAC and Axxess) that make adapters for connecting your steering wheel audio controls to a new car stereo. We recommend the Axxess self-programming ASWC-1 adapter for this Dodge truck. It'll tap directly into the data wire in the dash. (You'll have to access the analog control wire inside the steering column in order to install the PAC adapter.)Shop for car stereos that fit your Dodge Ram 1500
A close-up of the Ram's front door speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory speakers
Depending on the model, your Dodge Ram will have factory speakers in the front doors and the dash.
You'll find two full-range 6"x9" speakers in the doors, along with 5-1/4" in the rear side panels. You're limited by the .84" mounting height available under the factory grille, so only a few 6"x9"s will fit there without modifying the grille. You can also put 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" speakers in the front doors with the help of adapter brackets, and that really opens up your choices. You'll find wiring harnesses (and mounting brackets, if needed) for every location, and brackets and harnesses are available with every speaker order.
The rear factory speakers are similar to aftermarket 5-1/4"s, and you can install almost any 5-1/4"s back there if you're willing to drill new screw holes. You also have the option of installing 3-1/2" speakers in the dash locations, but you'll have to run speaker wire to those dash openings.
You'll find a complement of 7 speakers: 3-1/2" speakers in the dash (left, right), a 2-1/2" center dash speaker, two 6"x9" woofers in the front doors, and two 5-1/4" speakers in the rear side panels. You have a factory amp behind the glove box that powers the three dash speakers, the front door 6"x9" subs, and the full-range rear speakers. If you're planning on upgrading your speakers, you have some choices to make.
- If you're keeping your factory radio, you can replace all your speakers, but keep in mind that the front door speakers are just producing bass. No need for a speaker with a silk dome tweeter in that location.
- If you're replacing the factory radio, you can connect your new stereo to the factory Infinity amp — you should get a little boost in performance but the speakers will continue to work as they do now. You can replace most of your speakers, but again, the front door speakers will only produce bass.
- You'll get the best results if you bypass the Infinity amp. Just run speaker wire from the new stereo to the glove box, then tie into the speaker wires coming off the factory amp. Then you have the option of running full-range 6"x9" speakers in your front doors, hooking up outboard amps, and building a full-blown audio system.
The factory Infinity system includes a center speaker. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
You'll have to pry out the panel that runs all the way across the dash to access these speakers. You can replace the right and left dash speakers. You'll have a hard time replacing the 2-1/2" center speaker, but you might as well leave it hooked up if you're keeping the factory amp.
You can splice or solder your new speaker's wires to the factory wiring, or use a set of Posi-Products connectors. We recommend the latter option, because it's faster, easier, and the connection is much stronger.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool.
You'll need to remove the door panels when installing new speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door speakers
You have to remove the entire door panel to access the front door speakers. If you're keeping the factory amp, go for the most efficient 2-way 6"x9"s you can find. If you're replacing the whole system and installing a subwoofer, then you should consider putting a round speaker (5-1/4" or 6-1/2") in the door for better accuracy. Here's a cool idea: if you're replacing the whole system but you don't want a sub, consider putting smaller subs in the doors and powering them with an amp. (Make sure you apply plenty of Dynamat or other sound deadener to the door panels and frame to eliminate rattling from the subs.)
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, T30 Torx driver
The rear side panel speakers really aren't hard to deal with (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear side panel speakers
You have to remove the factory toolbox and the side panels to access the rear speakers. A 5-1/4" speaker drops in the opening but you will have to drill new screw holes, so make sure you have the tools for that! A harness is available for those back speakers so you don't have to cut off the factory speaker connector.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, Phillips right-angle screwdriver, panel tool, drill and 1/8" bit, T25 and T47 Torx drivers.
The JL Audio Stealthbox houses a 13.5" sub and fits perfectly in the Ram 1500 cab. (photo courtesy of JL Audio)
Bass in your Ram truck
JL Audio makes an excellent Stealthbox sub for this truck, which houses a single13.5" sub in a sealed enclosure. The enclosure replaces the center seat cushion, but retains the factory storage tray and armrest.
The JL Audio W3v3 sub in this Stealthbox handles up to 600 watts RMS, so we're talking about some serious bass in the Ram regular cab's relatively small cabin. Best of all, this enclosure doesn't take up any space behind your seats, so you can still throw stuff back there.
There are plenty of other ways to improve the sound and functionality of your Dodge. Here are a few ideas:
Foam speaker baffles will really make a difference
We frequently suggest speaker baffles for other vehicles, but for full-size trucks like this Dodge, we strongly recommend them. These thick doors can waste a lot of great sound, and this is an inexpensive way to rein it back in. The rubber baffles are easy to install, and they'll give you better performance while also protecting your speakers.
With a vehicle this large, it's important to be aware of your surroundings. A rear-view camera is a big help when you're backing up in a crowded parking lot.
Installing a security system in your Dodge Ram pickup isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.
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