Video: How to install a car stereo


Robert Ferency-Viars

Robert Ferency-Viars is the managing editor for the Crutchfield car A/V learning content, and has been with the company since 1999. A Virginia native from the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he loves spending time with his wonderful wife and sons, listening to music, writing, and playing games with friends. Robert's love for car audio began at 16 when he installed his first car stereo.

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Watch this video for a step-by-step overview of a basic car stereo installation. The installation shown in this video is only one example — the actual steps involved vary from car to car.

The vehicle-specific Crutchfield MasterSheetsm included with your order will illustrate the specific installation steps required for your vehicle. Use our vehicle fit tool to see if we have a MasterSheet and installation gear for your car.

Video Transcript

In this video we're going to show you the most common steps for installing a new stereo in your car. Now every vehicle is different so the specifics vary. Some vehicles are more challenging than others, but all you really need is the Crutchfield MasterSheetsm. That's a set of step-by-step instructions specific to your vehicle.

We'll walk you through the process of taking out the old stuff and putting in the new stuff. And with our database of over 15,000 vehicles, chances are we have a MasterSheet for your car. Now we also of course will need the installation hardware — a mounting kit and a wiring harness to go along with that.

Now the first step for installing your stereo can be done before you even come out to the car, and that's connecting the two harnesses. You have the harness that connects to your car and the harness that connects to the stereo. This comes with the stereo. This is the extra thing that you get from us.

You have to connect these two things together so then it's just a matter of plugging in the stereo. As you can see they're color coded so it's really not that hard a task but just to be safe you'll want to refer to the wiring diagrams for each piece just to make sure you're attaching apples to apples.

There are several ways to connect all these wires. Crimping them is easy and fast, but soldering creates a more permanent and secure connection. For the best of both worlds try Posi-Products wiring connectors. They're even easier than crimping and just as secure as soldering.

Alright, here we are with the completed project. I've taken the car harness, connected it to the stereo harness and I used the Posi connectors just because they were quick and easy. Now if your stereo plays videos or DVDs then you'll also have a really long green wire that has to be connected to your parking brake or as in the case with this Alpine stereo two long yellow wires. One connects to the parking brake, one connects to the foot brake.

Before you start disassembling the dash, make sure you disconnect your car's negative battery terminal. That'll prevent us from causing any accidental shorts once we're moving around inside the cavity. In this car, I start the disassembly at the bottom of the console around the gearshift and work my way up. Now, in my other car, I start at the top of the dash, lifting off an upper trim panel and work down toward the stereo — just another example of how every car is different.

In most vehicles, as we have done here, you'll have to remove one or two pieces of trim panel from the dash, and that's best done using some trim panel tools as I did so you can pry around everything without risking scratches or breaking something.

And now we're into the heart of the dash and a couple more screws and we'll have this radio assembly out. Again I'm just following along with my MasterSheet and it's walking me through and that's how I know which thing to pull off and which thing stays put. Now that the old stereo is out of the way this is the perfect time to run the extra cables you might need for the new stereo. For example, I have a USB extension cable. I can run that down inside and either up under the console or into the glove box for my iPod connection.

I mentioned before on the harness we had the two really long wires, one going to the parking brake. I've taken the mid console apart here. That was actually a lot easier that I thought it would be. So this wire, I'll just run down through here and using another Posi-Tap connector I'll tap onto the emergency brake wire down here which is a little pink wire. It connects to the pin switch on the emergency brake and I'll just tie the two in together. That way this gets the signal from the brake switch and this other wire I will run down through here over to the foot brake so that it gets signal when the brake gets depressed.

Now we just put it all back together. Oh yeah, that's gonna look nice. Reassemble the dash and make sure everything is back in place, then reconnect the battery and test it out. Do not try to test the stereo before reassembling the dash. Many newer vehicles have switches or indicator lights for the airbag on the console. Reconnecting the battery while those circuits are disconnected could trip an error light. Now this usually won't interfere with the airbag's operation, but it can only be reset via the dealer's diagnostic computer and that can easily cost you a hundred dollars.

And here we are. The installation is complete and we have a new stereo. Keep in mind, like I said at the beginning, every vehicle is different and if you run into any problems during the installation our tech support team is just a phone call away. To get started, go to There we'll show you a list of all the items that fit your car plus the installation hardware you need. And remember, if you order a stereo that's priced $129.99 or more, usually that installation hardware is free. If you have any questions you can also contact our advisors via phone, chat, or email.

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