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2006-11 Chevrolet HHR

2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011

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 HHR, 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.
2007 Chevy HHR

2007 Chevy HHR panel wagon (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Overview

The Chevrolet HHR ("Heritage High Roof") is unmistakably retro and proud of it. This compact wagon traces its distinct look all the way back to the 1949 Chevy Suburban, so it comes by its looks honestly.

Often dismissed as a PT Cruiser copycat, the HHR is very much its own kind of ride. Sure, it was styled by the same guy credited with the PT (Bryan Nesbitt, who'd moved over to GM by this time), but the HHR harkens back to a time when vehicles like this hauled gear to job sites or vacationers to remote hunting lodges. It's a broad-shouldered, brawny little wagon and while it's perfectly happy running errands, you get the feeling that it's willing to do some hard work whenever you are. If you have the high-performance, turbocharged 2008-2010 SS model, it's also ready to play.

Whether you have the standard wagon or the panel wagon, the HHR gives you the everyday utility you'd expect, but without the bland, boxy styling that makes it hard to remember which one's yours every time you walk out of the hardware store. A design like this is going to look cool for years to come, so why not make it sound cool, too?

Factory system

The HHR was available with two basic factory stereo systems centered around a single-disc AM/FM receiver with an auxiliary input. The base package used six speakers, while the premium Pioneer package had seven, including a factory subwoofer. Options included steering wheel controls, Bluetooth® connectivity, and speed-sensitive volume control. GM's popular OnStar system, an option in 2006 and 2007, became a standard feature in 2008.

Your HHR's dash will comfortably hold either a DIN (2") or double-DIN (4") receiver, so you can install pretty much anything from a digital media receiver to a big-screen DVD/Nav receiver. A number of receivers will fit, but the HHR's 6-1/2" cavity depth might be a limiting factor.

Chevy HHR factory radio

The Chevy HHR's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Replacing your factory radio

Removing the factory radio is a relatively simple process that requires nothing more than a couple of tools and a bit of patience.

To start, use a panel tool to gently pry out the receiver/climate control trim panel in the center of the dash, then disconnect harnesses to remove the panel. You'll need to remove the eight 7mm screws securing the climate control unit and the factory radio. Once you've done that, lower the climate control unit and pull the radio out, then disconnect the harnesses, and remove it.

Installing your new stereo is largely a matter of reversing the steps above. You will need a mounting bracket that's included free with most Crutchfield stereo purchases. You'll also get complete wiring instructions and a Crutchfield MasterSheet™, which contains in-depth info on how to remove and replace your new stereo gear.

The HHR's factory warning chimes are built into the radio, and in order to retain them, you must use the factory integration adapter recommended by Crutchfield. This is a safety issue and it's important. In fact, we cannot offer technical support for any installation undertaken without the correct adapter. The good news is that the adapter needed is the same one that allows you to retain OnStar. The better news is that it's 50% off when you buy it with a compatible receiver from Crutchfield.

Tools needed: Panel tool, 7mm socket, socket wrench and extension

Steering wheel controls

If you want to retain your HHR's steering wheel audio controls, you'll need an adapter to connect them to your new car stereo. Which steering wheel adapter you need will depend on the HHR’s factory radio package. Our advisors can help you find the right one.

Shop for car stereos that fit your Chevrolet HHR

Replacing your factory speakers

The HHR has speakers in the front doors, A-pillars, and rear doors.

Front door speakers

As with most vehicles these days, replacing the HHR's factory speakers starts with removing the front door panels. What you find behind the panels depends on your truck's factory stereo system. If your HHR is equipped with the base stereo, you'll find a pair of 6-1/2" speakers. If you have the Pioneer system, they'll be 6-3/4" models. A wiring harness is not available for the Pioneer package, so you’ll need to cut off the factory connectors and splice the vehicle's speaker wires to your new speaker wires.

Chevy HHR front door speakers

The HHR's front door speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the door panel is the easy part, but that doesn't mean you can rush through it. You're dealing with plastic, clips, and wiring, so take your time and work carefully. Start by prying off the screw cover behind the door release and removing the Torx T30 screw beneath it. Next, pry out the rubber mat in the door pull cup and remove two more Torx T30 screws.  At the rear of the door panel, you'll see a push pin retaining clip. Press in the center of the pin, then pry out the clip. Next, pry out the sides and bottom of the door panel to release those clips, then pry out a similar clip located at the top edge of the sail panel area. Lift the panel, disconnect the wiring harnesses and the door release cable, then remove the door panel. If you have the standard system, you'll remove one 7mm screw and unhook the speaker. If you have the Pioneer, you'll remove four Phillips screws.

The base speakers can be replaced with 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" speakers. They're easy enough to find, but the HHR's spade-shaped opening means you’ll need to drill new screw holes in order to secure the adapter brackets that are included free with your speaker purchase. The easiest way to do this is to hold up the speaker bracket around the opening, mark where the new holes will go, then drill out the new holes. Be careful when you're drilling, paying attention to things like wiring, windows, and safety devices. And always check your drilling depth and location to avoid damaging your vehicle.

Replacing the Pioneer speakers is a bit less labor-intensive. Aftermarket 5-1/4", 6-1/2", or 6-3/4" speakers will fit, though the smaller ones will need the help of your free speaker bracket. If you're installing an aftermarket 6-3/4" speaker, you might, depending on the size of your new speaker's magnet, need to cut out the back of the plastic cup or mounting bracket.

Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, panel tool, 7mm socket, socket wrench and extension, Torx T30 driver, drill and 1/8" bit

Front pillar speakers

The HHR's 1-1/2" tweeters are located at the base of the A-pillars. Getting to them is easy, but replacing them requires a little creativity. Not a ton, mind you, but a little.

Use a panel tool to pry open the "airbag" emblem and remove the 7mm screw from the pillar trim panel. Pry out the top edge of the trim panel to release the retaining clip. Pull out the trim and disconnect the wiring harness to remove. Remove the two Torx T10 screws securing the tweeters, then remove the tweeters.

Chevy HHR front pillar speaker

The HHR's tweeters are mounted in the front pillars (Crutchfield Research Photo)

You'll need to fabricate a mounting bracket or use a universal backstrap to hold your aftermarket tweeters in place. An aftermarket wiring adapter is not available, so you'll also need to splice into the factory wiring. It sounds like a bit of work, but it's worth it if you're planning to install a set of component speakers. This is a great location, and you'll definitely hear the difference in your favorite music.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Torx T10 driver

Rear door speakers
The HHR wagon's rear door

The HHR wagon's rear door (Crutchfield Research Photo)

As noted earlier, the HHR was available in a standard wagon with the expected number of windows, or a panel wagon that blocked off both rear side windows to add extra utility and space for corporate logos. Or, we hope, really cool murals involving warlocks and dragons. The mere existence of the two models underlines the fact that the HHR, while technically a "compact wagon," was a true descendant of its hard-working forebears.

In addition to obvious things, like overall utility and the amount of natural light allowed into the cabin, the two HHRs also differ in the amount of work necessary to replace the rear door speakers.

If you have a wagon, the removal and replacement info for the rear doors is essentially the same as it is for the front doors. Your Crutchfield MasterSheet has all the step-by-step instructions, plus photos, but it really is the same basic deal – same sizes, same techniques, same drilling new speaker holes when needed.

The panel wagon, on the other hand, is a bit different. That panel, on the inside of the HHR, is a door-sized piece of plastic. The interior door mechanism is basic, since the doors were primarily operated by buttons on the keyfob and dashboard.

The HHR panel wagon's rear door

Rear door in the panel wagon (Crutchfield Research Photo)

You'll start by prying off three retaining clips on the top edge of the panel. Pry out the screw cover behind the door release handle and remove one Torx T30 screw. Next, you'll pry out the retaining clip on rear edge of door panel by pressing in the center pin, then prying out the clip. Then, carefully pry out the sides and bottom of the door panel to release 10 clips. Disconnect the door release cable and remove the panel.

As noted earlier, no wiring harness is available for the Pioneer, so if your HHR is so equipped, you’ll need to cut off the factory connectors and splice into your new speaker wires. A speaker adapter bracket is required, and it's included free with your speaker purchase. The rest of the front door instructions also apply to the panel wagon.

Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, panel tool, 7mm socket, socket wrench and extension, Torx T30 driver, drill and 1/8" bit

Shop for speakers that fit your Chevrolet HHR

Bass in your HHR

The factory subwoofer and amp (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The factory subwoofer and amp (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Pioneer-equipped HHRs have an 8", 2-ohm subwoofer located in the cargo area, behind a panel on the driver's side. The factory amp is back there, too. If you replace the sub, you should replace the factory amp as well, just to be sure the sub is getting the power it needs.

Getting to them involves removing the back seat, most of the rear panels, and the cargo floor. In other words, it's a bit labor-intensive, so if you're going to go to the trouble, we'd suggest going with the best sub/amp combo you can fit back there. This procedure is not covered in the Crutchfield MasterSheet for the HHR, but our advisors have all the info you'll need to point you (or your professional installer) in the right direction.

If you want to add big-time bass, the panel wagon offers a lot of room for an enclosed sub. The available space measures 39" W x 28" H x 48"-56" D, so you really can put a massive sub box back there. Thinking about 12" subwoofers? Rock on. The regular wagon offers a reasonable 38" W x 13" H x 28"-34" D space, so if hauling kids and cargo isn't a big part of your life, you can still go big in an HHR.

If you do have real-world concerns like groceries and sports equipment, a powered sub will give you plenty of bass power in a compact, practical package.

Shop for vehicle-specific subwoofers for your Chevrolet HHR

Other options

Kenwood CMOS-310 backup camera

Kenwood CMOS-310 backup camera


Foam speaker baffles

To get the most out of your new door speakers, we recommend a set of foam baffles. The HHR is a big space and the doors are somewhat thin. The baffles compress easily to form a mounting seal that can reduce panel vibration. They also protect the speaker from dirt and moisture. If you use them along with a Dynamat speaker kit, you'll enjoy improved sound and performance.

Backup camera

The HHR panel wagon offers a lot of utility, but it comes at the expense of visibility. A backup camera will make life in the urban jungle a whole lot easier. We offer cameras from Kenwood, Alpine, Sony, Pioneer, and more. Some are designed to work with same-brand receivers only, but others come with a composite video connector and will work with almost any video receiver.

Security

If you're interested in adding a security system to your HHR, we recommend the Flashlogic FLCAN databus interface because it integrates all of the alarm system functions with the car's electronics. This is a challenging installation, so we recommend that you have the work done by a professional.

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