2011-up Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited

2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014

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 Wrangler, 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.
20011-up Jeep Wrangler

2011-up Jeep Wrangler (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Overview

Once upon a time, driving a Jeep meant bumping along the road with the wind in your hair, bugs in your teeth, and every single road surface imperfection going directly to the base of your spine. In other words, it was very much like driving an old British sports car, except you could climb the side of a mountain and the wiring didn't fry every time it rained.

2011-up Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

2011-up Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Oh, how times have changed. The current "JK" series, introduced in 2007, proved that it was possible to combine the rugged, go-anywhere capability that hardcore Jeep enthusiasts demand with a level of comfort and refinement that appealed to a more mainstream audience.

The addition of a 4-door model, the Wrangler Unlimited, raised eyebrows among some purists, but quickly found favor among people who had always wanted a Jeep, but kept settling for more a "practical" SUV.

No matter which Wrangler you drive, if you still want to feel the bugs in your teeth, you can always remove the top, drop the doors, and head for the trail. When it's time to take the kids to soccer practice, put 'em back on. As the ads used to say, "Only in a Jeep."

For 2011, Jeep rolled out some improvements to the Wranglers, revamping the interior and improving the surfaces and switchgear. They also spent time working on the sound insulation, so this Jeep's interior is a much nicer home for an aftermarket audio system.

Factory system

The standard Wrangler system was a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 receiver that included an aux input. The optional Infinity (2011-12) and Alpine (2013 - up) speaker packages, available with both the standard and optional nav receivers, included a subwoofer in the cargo area. Nifty features like Bluetooth hands-free calling, Sirius satellite radio, and USB connectivity were also available.

If you replace the stock receiver, you'll lose the factory nav, satellite radio, and/or aux input. All of those things can be replaced – and improved upon – with an aftermarket stereo. The 2-door and 4-door models are the same in terms of receivers and speakers. There are some different subwoofer packages available, so enter your vehicle information in our Outfit My Car page to see what's available.

Replacing your factory radio

Jeep Wrangler radio

The Wrangler's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)

You can replace the stock radio with a variety of single-DIN (2" tall) or double-DIN (4" tall) receivers. Removing the factory unit involves a fair amount of dash disassembly, but it's nothing that the average do-it-yourselfer can't handle. The difficulty of installing the new one depends on what kind of receiver you choose.

A single-DIN receiver is rather easy to deal with. You'll secure the receiver to a custom mounting bracket, then make the necessary wiring connections. The bracket and the wiring adapter kit are available at a discount when you buy your stereo at Crutchfield.

Installing a double-DIN receiver is a tad more complicated, because you'll have to remove the metal receiver support bracket behind the factory radio. This is actually pretty easy, and only involves the removal of four screws. Next, you'll have to trim the bar at the top of the dash opening to create room for the new receiver. You don't have to trim it very much, just enough to get the receiver in. But it's still a bit of work, and you'll want to proceed carefully.

You'll find complete, step-by-step instructions for this installation, plus info on how to replace your speakers, in the Crutchfield MasterSheet™ that's included free with every stereo purchase.

Note: In some (rare) cases, the double-DIN mounting kit doesn't exactly play well with fold-down face receivers. Those receivers will fit – eventually – but there might be some trial and error involved in making everything look and operate just right. It may require a bit of extra patience, so take a deep, soothing breath before you start.

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

Steering wheel audio controls

If you want to continue using the steering wheel controls on your Wrangler, you'll need an adapter to hook everything up to the new receiver. We stock several models that will work, and our website's Outfit My Car feature will match things up nicely. If you have questions, a Crutchfield Advisor can help you get the equipment you need.

Shop for car stereos that fit your Jeep Wrangler

Replacing your factory speakers

The Wrangler's speakers aren't that easy to replace. The job isn't hard, there's just a lot of job to do. The results are worth it, though.

Front woofers

The Wrangler's doors aren't like the doors on your average vehicle. For one thing, you can take them off if you want to, which is not something you can do on a Honda Accord. As cool as that is, it means the speakers you'd normally find in the doors have to go somewhere else. In the Wrangler's case, the front woofers are mounted to plastic enclosures that are bolted to the sub-dash.

Jeep Wrangler dash speaker

Honestly, the driver's side speaker is really tough to get to (Crutchfield Research Photo)


Not surprisingly, replacing them is a little harder than it would be on most vehicles. Removing the enclosure on the driver's side is, to be quite honest, difficult and time consuming. The passenger's side is much easier, but all in all, this job can easily eat an entire afternoon.

There's no single part of the job that's really, really tough, it's just that there are a lot of parts of the job to get through. Be patient, take your time, and be sure to keep all the various parts and screws organized as you're removing them. That'll make it a whole lot easier to put things back together and enjoy the sound of your new speakers. Your Crutchfield MasterSheet will guide you through every step of the process.

Speaker tabs

These tabs need to be shaved or filed down in order to attach the new speaker bracket (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The factory front speakers are oversized 6-3/4", 4-ohm GM/Chrysler units. Aftermarket 6-3/4" speakers will fit using the factory bracket, but you'll need to shave the tabs off of the face of the stock enclosure in order for the new speaker to fit flush.

Jeep Wrangler dash speaker

The passenger's side speaker is much easier to work with (Crutchfield Research Photo)

In the case of 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" replacements, a speaker adapter bracket is required, and it's available at a discount with your speaker purchase. Once the speaker and bracket are attached, you'll shave the tabs off of the enclosure to make that combo fit flush.

Tools needed: Panel tool, socket wrench, extension, 7mm, 8mm & 10mm sockets, Torx T-20 driver, file

Front tweeters

The 7.8-ohm tweeters, which are about an inch deep, are located in pods on the top of the dash. To replace them, you'll need to pry the tweeter out of the pod. Provided the depth and cutout are sufficient, you can flush mount the aftermarket tweeters using the aftermarket hardware.

Jeep tweeter on the dash

The tweeter is easy to pry out (Crutchfield Research Photo)

If this is not possible, remove the tweeter from the grille, fabricate a mounting bracket, and re-use the factory grille. A wiring harness is not available, so you'll make your connections using Posi-Products connectors. This is much easier than soldering, and you get a more secure connection than just twisting and taping the wires. That's a good thing in a vehicle that's going to spend at least some of the time bouncing along backwoods trails.

Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver

Jeep Wrangler soundbar speaker

The Wrangler's weatherproof soundbar speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Soundbar speakers

The Wrangler has oversized 6-3/4" 4-ohm GM/Chrysler speakers located in the overhead soundbar. The speakers and grilles are held in with the same screws, so they're quite easy to reach and replace.

Due to the rather shallow mounting depth in this location, your replacement options are 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" units. A speaker adapter bracket is required, and it's included free with your speaker purchase.

The factory soundbar speakers are weatherproof, but if you do a lot of topless (the Jeep, we mean) off-roading, you should still consider a set of marine-rated speakers. You'll get the same level of power, plus the security of knowing that your speakers will still rock even after you've spent the afternoon splashing through creek beds and mud holes.

Tools needed: Torx T-15 driver

Shop for speakers that fit your Jeep Wrangler

Bass in your Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler factory sub

The factory subwoofer (Crutchfield Research Photo)

On Wranglers equipped with the Infinity or Alpine speaker systems, the factory 8" dual voice coil subwoofer is located in an enclosure on the passenger's side of the cargo area. The subwoofer and grille are both held in with the same screws, so it's easy to remove the old one. You'll have to re-drill the screw holes to mount a new aftermarket subwoofer, though. The factory amplifier isn't terribly impressive, so if you upgrade the sub, you'll want to replace the amp, too (see Other Options, below).

If your Wrangler doesn't have a factory sub at all, or if a new 8" sub isn't enough bass, you have some interesting options. Several manufacturers, including Kicker and JL Audio, offer custom enclosures designed to fit your Jeep perfectly. You can choose from several unloaded (pick your own sub) or loaded (comes with a sub installed) models that will add plenty of thump to your driving adventures.

Of course, if you want maximum bass, there's only one way to go: a custom enclosure stuffed with the biggest subs you can cram in there. In the Wrangler's case, if you want to go big, you have a 35" (with factory sub) or 41" (without) W x 12" H x 9"/12" D space to work with. For the Unlimited, the space increases to 13" H x 26"/33" D.   

Custom-fit JL Audio subwoofer

This custom-fit JL Audio sub fits your Wrangler perfectly.

Shop for vehicle-specific subwoofers for your Jeep Wrangler

Other options

Here are some suggestions on how to make your Wrangler even better:

Security

The key to adding a security system or remote start to your Wrangler is the XpressKit DBALL2 module (and a companion T-harness to make installation much easier). Many cars today feature an immobilizer security system that won't allow the car to start without first sensing the presence of a chip imbedded in the key or key fob. The XpressKit DBALL2 module tells your vehicle through its databus that it's okay for an aftermarket remote start or security system to start the engine or unlock the doors without that chip. The DBALL2 works with all Viper, Directed, and Python security systems, as well as most other brands.

Additionally, if you have an automatic transmission with keyless entry, then your Jeep is "remote start ready." You can add a remote start system by adding the DBALL2 and T-harness mentioned above.

Add an amp

The factory amps are okay, but they're just not as powerful as aftermarket amplifiers. In a boxy, noisy vehicle like the Wrangler, you need clean power going to your speakers and sub. A new amplifier will give you the "headroom" you need to get the sound you want at highway speeds.

Car care

If you're using your Wrangler as intended, it's probably going to get dirty every now and then. Keeping it in great shape really helps retain resale value, so protect your carpets (and your investment) with a set of custom-fit WeatherTech floor liners. For the rest of your Jeep, use WeatherTech® TechCare™ cleaning products to get everything clean and shiny after a day on the trail.

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