car stereos & components?
2008-up Dodge Grand Caravan
2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012
2008 Dodge Grand Caravan (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The redesigned 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan retained all that was good about Chrysler’s genre-defining minivan line, while adding a host of family-friendly comfort and entertainment features. Some, like the slightly larger overall size and increased interior space, were subtle. Others, like the three available interior configuration options, were a little more obvious. Either way, this is a comfortable, capable people-mover with plenty of room for infotainment improvements.
The Grand Caravan is obviously not the Mopar to choose if you’re looking for oohs and ahhs down at the drive-in, but then again, you wouldn’t want to haul four kids to soccer practice in a ’70 Challenger R/T, either. This minivan is what it is, and does what it does, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a great place to be. With the right gear from Crutchfield, you can rock out to Blondie while the kids are watching Barney. Minivan or not, that’s still pretty cool.
In 2011, the Grand Caravan (along with its sibling, the Chrysler Town & Country) received a mid-cycle update that included a major revamping of the interior and dashboard. The changes actually made it much easier to remove and replace a factory radio, and we’ve noted the differences below. All other installation instructions are identical to the 2008-2010 models.
The Grand Caravan's factory radio with the DVD player at the bottom of the console (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
The Caravan’s base system was an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with four speakers. The next level of trim added speakers in the corner dash. The Premium Sound System adds a center channel speaker, rear pillar tweeters and rear side panel subwoofer, along with a main amplifier and dedicated subwoofer amp. Optional features, like navigation, Bluetooth® connectivity, satellite radio, and rear seat DVD entertainment pumped up the GC’s entertainment quotient.
As you might expect, the rear-seat entertainment system was a very popular option on the Grand Caravan. The DVD player is separate from the radio, and is located in the lower dash. If your van is equipped with this entertainment system and you’re planning to install an aftermarket stereo, you’ll need to purchase a radio replacement adapter to power the DVD player. Once everything’s hooked up, your passengers can watch a video while you enjoy music or use your aftermarket navigation system up front. Aftermarket DVD/nav receivers will not work with the factory fold-down screens so you’ll still need the above adapter to retain the factory DVD player.
Replacing your factory stereo
Removing the factory radio (2008-2010)
A wide variety of single-DIN units will fit neatly into the Grand Caravan’s dash with the aid of the mounting kit that’s free with most stereo purchases from Crutchfield.
If you’re planning to install a double-DIN receiver, be prepared for a bit more work. The culprit is a metal support bracket that gets in the way when you’re replacing the factory receiver. You’ll need to cut this bracket out using a hacksaw. If you’re extremely confident in your skills, proceed. If not, you might want to consult a car stereo installation professional.
The 2008-10 Caravan’s dash assembly is actually a series of interlocking pieces that starts at the A-pillars. You’ll need to pry those off, then gradually work your way through a series of trim panels that eventually expose the factory receiver. This takes some time, but it’s not difficult. Be sure to work slowly and carefully, though. You don’t want to scar the trim panels or break off the plastic retaining clips, so don’t rush through this stage. No matter how great your new system sounds; that broken trim panel will annoy you forever.
Once you’ve worked your way through the various panels and pieces, installing your new stereo is simply a matter of securing the receiver to the mounting bracket, connecting the wiring adapter to the stereo wires, and plugging that into the Caravan’s wiring. The mounting kit is free with most stereos purchased from Crutchfield. The wiring adapter needed for the Grand Caravan is more than the typical replacement harness. It's a special adapter that's needed so that the new stereo will work with the van's electronics, and Crutchfield offers it for half price with the purchase of your new receiver.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, Torx T-30 driver, small flat blade screwdriver
Removing the factory radio (2011- up)
A 2011 dashboard redesign made the radio removal process vastly easier. The painstaking process of removing multiple trim pieces with multiple tools was gone, replaced by a stereo removal process that can be summed up in two sentences.
- Starting at either upper corner, pry out the receiver trim panel to release the clips and remove the trim panel.
- Remove four Phillips screws securing the receiver to the dash, disconnect the harnesses and remove the receiver.
And that’s all. Your neighbor with the 2009 model will be green with envy. Unfortunately, 2011 models still have the same metal support in the dash, so if you’re installing a double-DIN receiver, you’ll still need to cut this away with a hacksaw. This is still difficult, so be prepared to consult a professional of you’re not comfortable doing the job. Or, you can always ask your neighbor.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
Steering wheel controls: If your Grand Caravan is equipped with audio controls on the steering wheel, you’ll probably want to keep using them when you install a new receiver. A steering wheel control interface will let your new stereo communicate with your steering wheel. There are several interfaces available, but we recommend the PAC SWI-RC interface, because it'll connect directly to the stereo wiring adapter mentioned above. 2009 and up Grand Caravans are a little more convenient. There's a second stereo integration adapter to choose from that has steering wheel integration built in. That means less expense and easier integration.
Replacing your factory speakers
The Dodge Caravan's stock front door speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door speakers
The Caravan’s stock front speakers, regardless of trim level, are 6"x9" units. The base models are 4 ohm, while the premium models are 2 ohm. No 6"x9" speakers will fit into the factory openings because of space restrictions (unless you're willing to do some cutting), so we recommend smaller speakers for this location. A wide variety of 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" speakers will fit using mounting brackets, which are included with your purchase.
If you’re keeping the factory amp, you’ll need to use low-impedance replacements (from Infinity or JBL, for example). Installation is relatively simple. You’ll need to remove the front door panel, of course, but the free instructions provided by Crutchfield help make this a straightforward process.
Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, Torx T-20 driver
Upper-end Grand Caravans are equipped with dash speakers – two corner speakers and, in the premium system, one center speaker. They’re nice to have and hard to replace. The corner dash openings are too shallow for most aftermarket 3-1/2" speakers. The center speaker has a 3-1/2" bolt pattern, but again, there’s isn’t enough space for an aftermarket speaker. Instead, this a great location to mount tweeters. You'll need to create a mounting bracket for them, and we offer a universal backstrap that we often recommend for just that.
Dodge Grand Caravan rear speaker, located behind the side panel (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The Caravan’s rear speakers are 6" x 9" models located on the mid-rear side panels. They’re very easy to access and replace; you only need to pry off the speaker grilles to get to them. Aftermarket 6" x 9" speakers fit right in, using the wiring harness that’s free with your speaker purchase. You can also install 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" speakers by using mounting brackets. Again, they’re included with your purchase.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
A pair of rear pillar tweeters was included as a part of the premium stereo package. They’re hard to reach and harder to replace. A fair amount of trim must be removed to access the tweeter location, where you’ll find 2-1/2" tweeters clipped into the factory bracket. If you want to replace them with aftermarket units, you’ll have to fabricate a new bracket. We suggest leaving them where they are.
Powered subs like the Sound Ordnance B-8PT are good options for minivans.
Adding bass to your Grand Caravan
Part of the joy of a minivan (Yes, we said joy….) is having the ability to carry plenty of passengers and/or cargo. On the other hand, rows of seats and multiple configuration options can make it tough to add big-time bass.
That’s why powered subwoofers have long been favorites of minivan owners who want better sound, but don’t want to give up cargo space to get it. These compact subs deliver a big, beefy low-end punch without taking up tons of room in the back of the van. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, these subs sound great and fit in out-of-the-way places.
The 10-speaker premium sound system came with a factory-installed subwoofer and amp. An aftermarket 8" sub will fit nicely in the opening, which can be reached by removing the rear side panel. This isn’t a quick job, but it’s not difficult. You’ll have to re-drill the mounting screw holes to install your aftermarket subwoofer, but the new piece will fit under the factory grille.
Factory subwoofer in the premium system (Crutchfield Research Photo)
If you do replace the 8" factory sub with an aftermarket model, we recommend that you also add an aftermarket amp. The factory amp, located behind the left rear quarter panel below the left rear speaker, served its purpose well, but if you’re investing in a better sub, you should give it all the power it needs.
To replace it, remove two (2) 10mm bolts securing the sub enclosure to the side wall, disconnect the harness and remove the enclosure. Loosen the three (3) 10mm bolts securing the amp to the side wall, lift the amp, disconnect the harnesses and remove.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, drill
Factory sound processor: If you don’t want to replace your factory radio, a sound processor is a great way to improve your Grand Caravan’s system performance. The factory stereo is programmed to make the inferior factory speakers sound their best, which often means dialing back the bass output as you increase the volume. This can make new speakers under-perform and sound weak. A sound processor will strip out that sound shaping and give you a clean, flat signal to send to your aftermarket speakers and amps. Read more about factory sound processors.
WeatherTech floor mats will outlast your Caravan
Security systems: Installing a security system in the Grand Caravan isn’t terribly difficult, but if you’re not experienced with these systems, you might want to leave the work to someone who is. You will need an FLCAN interface from FlashLogic if you plan on adding an alarm or remote start. The FLCAN integrates all of the alarm system functions with the car's system. You may also need an FLCHH T-harness, which makes things easier by eliminating the need to spice wires at the ignition switch. You’ll only have four wires to connect between the harness, and the remote start/security system.
Floor Mats: If you’ve ever owned a minivan of any kind, you don’t need us to remind you of what can happen when you hit the road carrying any combination of adults, kids, pets, and food. Floor mats and cargo mats from WeatherTech will help protect your floors from dirt, damage and discarded juice boxes. As for the seats, door panels, roof and everywhere else a scoop of ice cream can possibly land, we recommend WeatherTech’s TechCare car care products.
Where to start
You’d probably love to replace everything in your Grand Caravan at once, but you'll probably be happy to learn that you don’t have to.
If your Grand Caravan is equipped with the base system, the fastest way to better sound is a new set of speakers. Replace the front speakers first, then replace the rear speakers, then add an aftermarket receiver later. You’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy each incremental improvement in sound quality.
If you have the premium system, you should reverse the order. The premium speakers really aren’t bad at all, and a new receiver will help you get the most out of the entire speaker system.
Vans equipped with the premium system can benefit from an upgrade to the factory subwoofer, which in turn will need an upgraded amplifier. On base models, a powered subwoofer will add richness and punch to your Caravan’s sound without taking up a lot of space.
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