2006-2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser
2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010
Jon Paulette is a veteran automotive writer who has spent a fair portion of his life hanging out at racetracks and talking to amazing people who make extremely loud cars reach ridiculous speeds. Despite all that, he still has enough hearing left to enjoy a stupidly large music collection. A native Virginian, Jon lives in the Charlottesville area, roots for the Nationals and would like a good BBQ sandwich right about now.
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Overview of the Chrysler PT Cruiser
The first-generation PT Cruiser was a big hit for Chrysler, so when it came time for a mid-cycle update, the company faced a bit of a conundrum. How do you make a car that already looks kind of old look new and different without messing up the unique qualities that made it popular in the first place?
To their credit, Chrysler's designers made the "second-gen" PT better without taking anything away from the things that made it great. The exterior received a subtle nip and tuck, while the interior got a major revamp that included a new dash and door panels.
The changes helped make the PT a refreshed and refined version of the completely practical, yet charmingly quirky people-mover it always was. If you're looking for a versatile car with character to spare, the PT Cruiser wagon is a solid choice. There's plenty of space for you, your family, and your stuff. And, of course, a great stereo system.
This article is an overview of your vehicle's audio system and its upgrade options. If you're looking for step-by-step instructions on how to install a car stereo or speakers in your PT Cruiser, there's nothing better than our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™. This detailed, well-illustrated document is free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one separately for $9.99.
The PT's radio sits in a revised center stack (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
The original PT's center dash area was a busy place. After the interior redesign, it was still pretty busy, but it was also easier to deal with during a stereo installation. While a 4" double-DIN stereo will not fit (same goes for any receiver with a fold-down face), you can still choose from a wide variety of powerful 2" CD receivers or, if you're travelling disc-free these days, digital media receivers.
The PT's base system was an AM/FM/CD receiver with an AUX jack and six speakers. The optional 7-speaker Boston Acoustics system featured an AM/FM receiver with a built-in 6-disc CD/MP3 player and available Sirius satellite radio. You won't find any Boston Acoustics logos in the PT, but if you find an amp under the driver's seat and a subwoofer in the left rear side panel, you'll know you have a BA system.
When you replace the radio, you'll lose the factory Sirius satellite radio and the factory hands-free cell phone interface. Thankfully, there are plenty of aftermarket receivers that can give you both. If you have the factory amp, you should know that when you replace the factory radio, you'll lose the ability to fade the music from front to rear.
In any event, you'll need a special adapter to install your new car stereo. There are two of these adapters available. The first one, the C2R-CHY4 from PAC lets you integrate the new stereo with your PT's electronics without messing up anything. The second adapter, the RP4-CH11 from PAC also lets you keep your steering wheel audio controls and rear seat entertainment controls, if your PT has them. We strongly recommend that you purchase one of these adapters, and to make it easier, we'll give you a very nice discount when you buy it with any car stereo from Crutchfield.
A closer look at what's behind the PT's factory stereo (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory radio
Start by angling the dash air vents toward rear of vehicle. Once they're out of the way, you can remove the Phillips screw that's located in the lowest part of each vent. Next, pull out the receiver trim panel to release the retaining clips. Disconnect the clock and power window harnesses, then let the receiver trim panel hang while you're working on everything else. Do not disconnect the heater cables and harnesses. It's unnecessary, plus it's also potentially problematic. Now that the radio is exposed, remove the four Torx T20 screws that secure it in the dash, pull it out, unhook everything, and set it aside.
Installing your new stereo is largely a matter of reversing the steps you took to remove the old one. To install the new receiver, start by removing the metal DIN sleeve that comes with it. You won't need the sleeve, because the new receiver will be held in place by the mounting kit that's avaiable at a discount with your Crutchfield stereo purchase. Assemble the mounting kit and install the new stereo following the directions in your MasterSheet. Plug in the wiring harness and the antenna lead, then re-attach the screws and test everything out. If it works, start putting the dash back together.
Tools Required: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, Torx T20 driver.
Replacing your factory speakers
The PT Cruiser was equipped with factory speakers in the doors and dash.
The PT Cruiser's front speakers are easy to replace (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door speakers
If you have the base radio, your PT's front door speakers are slightly oversized 6-3/4", 4-ohm models. The Boston Acoustics models are the same size, but have a lower 1.7 ohms of impedance. These "oversized" speakers are found frequently in Chrysler and GM vehicles, so same-size aftermarket speakers are plentiful. With the help of an adapter bracket, which is free with your purchase, you can also install a wide variety of 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" speakers.
If you have the Boston Acoustics system, you should replace them with low-impedance speakers (like Infinity or JBL), otherwise you'll have a noticeable drop in volume.
You'll need to remove the door panel, but that's not a difficult process on the PT Cruiser. Just remember to work slowly and carefully, to protect the plastic panels from damage. The full procedure is covered step-by-step in the MasterSheet. We also include the speaker connection harnesses and adapter brackets (if needed) free with your speaker purchase.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, 10mm socket, ratchet, and extension.
A wide variety of speakers will fit in the PT's doors (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear door speakers
The PT's rear door speakers are basically the same as the front door speakers, and so is the process of replacing them. The base models are the same oversized 6-3/4", 4-ohm models found up front, while the Boston Acoustics models differ slightly from their up-front cousins by offering 2.1 ohms of impedance. Still, anything that fits up front should fit back here, so if you like one-stop shopping, you've bought the right vehicle.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, 10mm socket, ratchet, and extension.
The tweeter is located at the base of the A-pillar (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Regardless of system, the PT has a pair of 3-1/2" speakers in the dash, at the base of the A-pillars. The only real difference is that the base models are rated at 8 ohms and the Boston Acoustic model are 2.5 ohms. That's important to know, because if you do have the Boston Acoustics system, then you should look for low-impedance replacements for those dash speakers, like Infinity or JBL.
Regardless of which version of speaker is in the dash, the removal and replacement process is the same either way. You'll need to remove the front pillar trim and the dash pad, but the job is pretty straightforward.
Tools needed: panel tool, Torx T20 driver.
Bass in your PT Cruiser
The factory sub is located on the driver's side of the PT (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The PT's Boston Acoustics package included an amplifier under the driver's seat and an 8" dual voice coil sub on the driver's side of the cargo area. This sub receives only bass frequencies from the factory amplifier, and if you replace the sub, you'll also want (need, really) to replace the amp with a more powerful piece.
Plenty of replacement models are available, but getting to the old sub involves a fair amount of panel removal and you'll need to drill new mounting holes for the new one. You'll also need to find a place to mount the new amplifier. Nothing about the process is hard, but there's a fair amount of process. You can do this, but you'll want to give the job the time and patience it deserves. When you realize how much more bass you gained without losing even a little bit of cargo room, it'll all be worth it.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, 7mm, 8mm & 10mm socket, ratchet, and extension, Torx T50 driver.
Adding an aftermarket sub
If your PT is equipped with the standard factory system and you're interested in boosting the bass performance, there's plenty of room to work with in the rear cargo area. The available sub box space measures 39" W x 19" H x 19"-24" D, so if you’re thinking about dropping in a good-sized set of component subs, you’re in luck.
On the other hand, if you're interested in adding a reasonable amount of bass without losing an unreasonable percentage of your PT's cargo capacity, you can also add a compact powered subwoofer. We offer several standalone units that will give you the thump you want without devouring the entire rear compartment.
For the best of both worlds, take a look at a JL Audio Stealthbox. This custom-designed solution contains one 10" JL Audio subwoofer in a sealed enclosure that fits inside the driver's side cargo area trim panel. The sub gives you great low-end performance, but it doesn't compromise cargo space at all.
Note that the Stealthbox will not work in PT Cruisers equipped with OEM satellite radio, the optional cargo organizer or an air compressor/inflator kit. This is a somewhat involved installation, so you may want to consult a car audio professional.
Other options for your PT Cruiser
There are plenty of other ways to improve your PT Cruiser. Here are some of the ways Crutchfield can help.
Kick panel speakers
A custom-fit Q-Forms Kick Panel Pod is another great way to improve your PT's sound. These pods, which mount in the kick panel areas in the front of the car, hold your speakers in an ideal position, angling them upward to maximize sound quality. You will need to cut new holes in order to install component speakers in the pods. Additional modification may be necessary in some cases.
Installing a security system in your PT Cruiser 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.
System building tips
If you want to build a great-sounding stereo, a PT Cruiser is a great starting point. As with any car stereo system, you can build your system in stages, upgrading a piece at a time until you have the sound you want.
The best place to start is up front, by replacing either the front door speakers or the stereo. The speakers are fairly easy to get to (as door speakers go) and there's plenty of room in there for a wide range of aftermarket replacements. Installing a new receiver will give you more power (for improved sound), plus added features like a USB input for your smartphone and Bluetooth® connectivity for phone calls and streaming music.
Instead of standard coaxial speakers for the front doors, consider a set of component speakers, especially after you've replaced the stereo. Component speakers give you better imaging and add a surprising amount of clarity to your music. You can mount the new tweeters in the dash or create a spot for them on the upper door panel. If you've avoided replacing the rear speakers up to this point, now's the time.
Adding a 4-channel amp to power your speakers is the finishing touch for a great system. This component will really bring your favorite songs to life. The added power lets your speakers really open up and play the music for you, bringing out details that you've never heard before.
This is one approach to improving the sound in a PT Cruiser, but it's not the only one. If bumping up the bass is your biggest priority, then make that your first step. You can always handle the speakers and stereo later. The most important thing is that you're having fun with the process of making your car a better place to be.
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