2003-2006 Jeep Wrangler
2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006
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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2003 Jeep Wrangler (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Traditionally, great sound and Jeep Wranglers have not gone hand in hand, but this particular Wrangler actually gives you some pretty cool options for building a rockin' audio system. You'll find enough room in the dash and sound bar for just about any replacement speakers, and some interesting options for bass, ranging from replacing the sub in the center console to amplified subs that fit behind the rear seat. With a little bit of work, you can fit any DIN (2" tall) radio in the dash. That's really good news compared to Wranglers and CJ Series Jeeps of the past, which were definitely not built with audio excellence in mind.
The Jeep;s factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The Jeep Wrangler came with a standard AM/FM/CD receiver and offered two speaker options.
4-speaker system: two 4" 2-way speakers in the dash and two 5-1/4" speakers in the roll bar;
7-speaker system: two 4" speakers with accompanying tweeters in the dash, two 5-1/4" speakers in the roll bar, and a 6-3/4" sub in the center console.
Replacing the factory radio
There's only about 6" of space behind the dash, but you can unbolt and remove the factory radio's rear support without too much trouble, giving you plenty of room for any DIN-size radio. 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 connects your Jeep antenna to the new radio. These installation parts are available at a deep discount with most Crutchfield stereo orders, and our step-by-step MasterSheet™ instructions for your Wrangler are included free.
A closeup of the Jeep radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, flat blade screwdriver, 10mm socket wrench, panel tool
Steering wheel audio controls
It's relatively easy to retain your Jeep Wrangler's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.
Replacing the factory speakers
The Wrangler's speakers are relatively easy to reach and replace, so you'll get much better sound with minimal effort.
This Jeep will accept both 4" and 4"x6" speakers in the dash with the help of mounting brackets, and 5-1/4" speakers in the sound bar. It's a good idea to get speaker harnesses along with your new speakers. They'll allow you to attach the new speakers to the plugs that connect to the Jeep's factory speakers, and they make it easier to reinstall the factory speakers if you ever sell your truck These brackets and speaker wiring harnesses are available at a very nice discount with every Crutchfield speaker order.
You have plenty of options for replacement speakers, as there's plenty of room in both locations. Your Wrangler may not have speakers in the dash, in which case you'll have to go to your Jeep dealer for speaker grilles and brackets. Many Wrangler owners who drive with their top off choose marine-certified speakers that won't be bothered by an occasional shower or condensation.
Factory front speakers in 7-speaker system (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front speakers: Each of the front dash openings houses a 4" speaker and a tweeter, and you can access the location by removing two small screws. The easiest upgrade is to install 4" coaxial speakers and remove the factory tweeters. If you're willing to do a little work, you can put a nice set of 4" components up front, but you'll have to fashion mounting plates for aftermarket tweeters. You can also add 4"x6" speakers. Most will fit there, with or without a plate. You'll need a bracket for pretty much any installation in this spot.
Sound bar speakers: You only have to remove a few screws to replace these speakers, and you have enough room for almost any 5-1/4" speakers to fit.
The Wrangler's soundbar speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver
Custom speaker installations
Since the Wrangler is such a popular vehicle, there are several options available if you want to put speakers in other locations. These options also let you use larger 6-1/2" speakers, rather than being limited to 4" or 5-1/4" sizes.
Q-Logic builds Q-Forms for the Wrangler. These are unloaded enclosures that install down in the Jeep's kick panels, housing 6-1/2" components.
Select Increments offers Mod-Pods for the Wrangler, which are unloaded enclosures that hold 5-1/4" speakers just below the Jeep's doors. They also build Quad-Pods, which are unloaded enclosures that hold 6-1/2" speakers and 8" subs in the Jeep's back corners.
Mod Pods are a terrific speaker option for your Wrangler (Select Increments photo)
Bass in your Wrangler
Bumping up the bass in your Wrangler will really improve your overall sound. You have several options to choose from, here, too.
Lots of Wrangler owners install an amp and sub enclosure in the area behind the seats. If you like to get a lot of mud on your Wrangler, it's a good idea to splice connectors into the power and speaker wires so you can quickly remove your sub from the back of your Jeep when you're heading out on the trail. You'll also appreciate the quick disconnect if you're headed to a risky area and don't want someone walking off with your gear.
You'll also find a wide range of subwoofer options available. Select Increments makes the Stealth-Pod, an enclosure that bolts onto the back door and holds a 10" sub of your choice.
Select Increments Stealth-Pod (Select Increments photo)
MTX also makes a variety of dual 10" amplified and unamplified enclosures that fit behind the back seat. If you're into building your own enclosure, here's the available space: Width (side to side) = 35", Height = 15", Depth (front to rear) = 7" at top, 10" at bottom. The height measurement brings the box even with the top of tailgate.
You'll have to remove the center console to replace the factory subwoofer. It's not a difficult job, but it'll take some time. Here are the dimensions for this factory sub location:
- Mounting depth: 2.789 inches
- Magnet diameter: 4.178 inches
- Mounting height: 0.712 inches
You may have to re-drill screw holes, but you should be able to find a small 6-1/2" or 6-3/4" sub that's within these dimensions. And, as long as you're going to drop an upgraded sub in the console, you might as well put a small amp under the seat to give it some decent power. If you're keeping the factory amp, you'll want to replace the factory dual 2-ohm voice coil sub with another DVC sub so you don't lose power.
Here's the factory sub, removed from console (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, 10mm socket wrench (with ratchet and extension), T20 and T30 Torx drivers, needle nose pliers
Here are some other ideas for improving your Jeep's sound, security, and appearance:
When you head to the great outdoors in your Wrangler, some of the outdoors will undoubtedly find its way into your truck. Floor mats and cargo mats from WeatherTech will help protect your floors from dirt and damage. As for the seats, door panels, headliner and other interior surfaces, we recommend WeatherTech’s TechCare car care products.
Installing a security system in your Wrangler 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.
You can still get aftermarket nav functionality without installing a touchscreen nav receiver in your Wrangler's dash. A portable GPS from Garmin, Magellan, or TomTom will mount on your dash and give you turn-by-turn directions, traffic updates, and everything you need to make your trip go smoothly. Plus, when you get where you're going, you can put your GPS in your pocket and hit the trail.
I'm OK with the power of the Jeep system, but I'm constantly turning up the bass control trying to get more punch. What should I do?
You might try adding a powered sub first. Cranking up the bass control puts a huge strain on your Jeep's radio, and the extra bass produced by a sub allows you to turn the bass control back down so you get more usable power from your radio. The extra bass will also make your factory speakers sound better when you're driving with the top off.
My Jeep's system sounds cool in the driveway but it's useless at 55 mph with all the road noise. What should I replace first?
Whatever you replace, you should definitely buy an amplifier because clean power is what you need. The amplifiers that are built into car stereos are relatively low-powered — an outboard amp will give you more headroom so your system can coast along instead of straining to create the level you need on the highway.
I don't want to put a new radio in my Jeep, but my music doesn't sound that great. Will new speakers help?
Absolutely. If you're going to keep your factory radio, look for speakers that are efficient (sensitivity rating over 90 dB). Spend a little more money on the 5-1/4" speakers that are going over your head — a good tweeter will bring out all the details in your music without taking your head off.