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How to install a car amplifier

Learn how to wire and position an amplifier

Learn how to install an amp in your car

In this overview, we'll cover walk through a typical amplifier installation to see the steps involved when you install an amplifier in your vehicle.

How to install a car amplifier |  video transcript

Adding a car amplifier will let you play music louder. It'll also raise the soundstage and enhance the detail in every song at any volume. Let's take a look at what it takes to install a car amplifier in your vehicle.

In this video, we have one of our tech support advisors helping out. These are the same folks you'll talk to if you have questions during your install.

Find a place to mount your amplifier
Before you get started, find a suitable place in your vehicle to mount your amplifier. Amplifiers generate heat, so adequate ventilation is important. And you'll want to place it somewhere that's not too difficult to access.

Amp wiring kit and speaker wire
Your amplifier does not come with the necessary wiring, so be sure to purchase an amp wiring kit that includes power and ground wire, as well as fuses you'll need. You'll also need to purchase enough speaker wire for the job.

Disconnect the battery
First, disconnect the negative battery terminal to protect you and your gear during installation.

Step #1: Running power wire

Next, run the power cable from the battery to the amp. Cut a short piece of the power cable, enough to cover the distance from the battery to the fuse holder location, and strip the insulation off both ends. Crimp the terminal ring from your wiring kit to one end, and attach the fuse holder to the other end. Strip the insulation from the end of the wire that leads to your amp and attach it to the other end of your fuse holder. Assemble the fuse and holder, and attach the terminal ring to your positive battery terminal. Then mount the fuse holder securely. It’s important to keep the fuse close to the battery since the lead between the terminal and the fuse is unprotected.

In most vehicles, you can pass the power cable through the firewall that separates the engine compartment from the main cabin using an existing entry point. Once you're inside the cabin, tuck the power cable under trim panels or your carpet along one side of your vehicle until you reach your amp location.

Step #2: Running turn-on wire and signal cables

After running the power wire, the next thing to do is run the turn-on wire and signal cables. The turn-on wire is included in your amp wiring kit. Run these cables behind the dash to your stereo. The turn-on wire connects to a remote turn-on lead in your stereo's wiring harness. It's usually blue, but confirm this with your owner's manual. Plug the RCA cables into the appropriate RCA outputs on your stereo.

Run these wires, the turn-on wire and the RCA cable, down the opposite side of the car from the power wire. This will prevent electrical noise from entering your system and spoiling your music.

All of this assumes you have an aftermarket stereo with preamp outputs. If you have a factory stereo then you'll do things differently. First off, make sure your amp has speaker-level inputs and "signal sensing" turn-on capability. If the amp does, you can just tap into the speaker wires behind your stereo, or possibly the rear deck speakers, to get signal to the amp.

Step #3: Ground the amplifier

The third primary connection is the ground wire. This wire should be connected to the vehicle's chassis. Look for a nearby bolt that you can fasten the ground cable to. The ground wire terminal should be in contact with the vehicle's bare metal. Sand away any paint at the contact point for the best connection.

Step#4: Send signal from your amp to your speakers

Now you need to get that audio signal from your amp to your speakers. Run this speaker wire at the same time you run the amp input wires.

If you're powering speakers with more than 75 watts per channel, then you should run new speaker wire from the amp to each speaker. If your amp is only powering subwoofers, then just run speaker wire to the subwoofer box. Either way, use 14- or 16-gauge wire from your amp to your speakers.

Now, mount your amp and make your connections. Try to use gentle curves with your wires and cables when possible.

Before you fire up the amp to test, turn the amplifier's gains all the way down. And if you’ve disconnected any connectors relating to the airbag, make sure to reconnect them. You don’t want to trip an error light that’ll need resetting. Now, reconnect your vehicle's negative battery terminal. Verify that the amp turns on when you turn the car on. Then you can play some music and set your gains.

Remember, if you bought your amp from Crutchfield, you can call our tech support team if you hit any snags. If you have any questions about car amplifiers, please give Crutchfield a call.

For more info on amplifier installation, check out these helpful articles:

For more info on car amplifiers, check out these articles:

  • Vernon Sanders from BERWICK

    Posted on 7/13/2021

    Do you guys have a diagram of a 3 amplifier install?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/14/2021

    Vernon, There are many different configurations for a 3-amp system. Perhaps someday we'll put out diagrams for some of them. In the meantime, check out our Amp wiring diagrams showing a 2-amp solution.
  • Robert Elhardt from La Quinta

    Posted on 6/6/2021

    I have a very small teardrop travel trailer, space is at a minimum. Installed from factory is an underwhelming 12v 6 watt stereo/CD/DVD player matched to 2 6.5" speakers. I want to keep the unit with all its function and footprint but need to optimize audio quality. Is it possible to find a mini- amplifier to fit inside an enclosed cabinet? I'll also need to upgrade the speakers keeping their footprint. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 6/8/2021

    Robert, Crutchfield offers about six different compact 2-channel amps. Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you pick the perfect amp for your situation.
  • Ramon Ojeda from Bayamon

    Posted on 3/12/2021

    How can I connect an Rockford Fosgate R2-750X5 amplifier to a Kia Rio factory radio without loose the steering wheel controls and rear view camera.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 3/31/2021

    Ramon, Using the factory radio's speaker outputs for the amp's inputs and its outputs to the speakers through the vehicle harness should have no effect at all on the steering wheel controls and rear view camera, which connect directly to the radio.
  • Gadine robinson from Columbia SC

    Posted on 8/21/2020

    I have 2 12 inch infinity kappa at 1262 watts a piece together it's 2524 watts max and a boss ar3000 class d mono block one ohm amp how can I wire up my speaker to run to the amp should it be at two ohms or 4 ohms

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 8/24/2020

    Gabine, If you have Infinity Kappa 1262w subs, they're DVC 4-ohms rated for 300 watts RMS each, and the only safe way to wire them to that amp is like this.
  • Samuel Flores from San Bernardino

    Posted on 7/16/2020

    Hello, i have a Kenwood stereo along w/ 1500 monoblock amp powering my 15" Memphis sub. My question is what wiring do i need exactly to be all hooked up... Thanks

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/20/2020

    Samuel, As explained in this video, you'll need RCA cables connecting your receiver to the amplifier, speaker wire from amp to sub, and power and ground cables from amp to battery and chassis. Give us a call so an Advisor can help you get everything you need for your install.
  • Paul from Sebastian

    Posted on 5/11/2020

    Question about amp install 2010 prius. Mtx bass tube calls for 8 gauge cable 120rms amp w 20A fuse. Article from crutchfield about prius not real thorough about not going above 30A. Does the inline power fuse need to be 30A?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 5/12/2020

    Paul, Go ahead and use a 20A fuse system. 20A is not above 30A, so you'll be fine.
  • Chris from Mesa

    Posted on 2/5/2020

    I've purchased the Kenwood KAC-M1824BT and plan on installing it in my 2018 rzr. I've installed amps before, but they were monoblock's and were straight forward with the bat/ground/remote sense wire, however the Kenwood has a wiring loom/harness that plugs into the amp itself. What's throwing me is the fact that the power and ground cable on the loom/harness are a thinner gauge than what comes with the amp kit. I've got a distribution block installed that's running my accessories, but for the life of me I'm at a loss on how to get this thing installed. I feel I'm making it far more complicated than it is. Thanks.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 2/7/2020

    Chris, You don't say what amp kit you have, so it's difficult to straighten out your dilemma. Nothing prevents you from connecting small harness wires to larger wires. If you bought your amp from Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help installing your amp. Their toll-free number would be on your invoice. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Click on this link for details.
  • Ethan from Temple

    Posted on 12/22/2019

    I have a 2018 Kia Optima factory navigation system with Apple integration. Do you guys know if it already has rca output or a signal to power a amp? The mastersheet shows a outdated Kia dash stereo.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 12/23/2019

    Ethan, The factory radio has no RCA outputs. You'll have to add a line output converter or get an amp with speaker-level inputs. If you buy your new amp at Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help installing your system. Their toll-free number will on your invoice. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Click on this link for details.
  • Joe nowicki from perrysburg

    Posted on 12/9/2019

    my radio popped than i coundnt turn down the voulumn. shut car off than radio worked again. whats wrong

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 12/10/2019

    Joe, Sounds like there's something wrong with the radio and it needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • George from Parlier

    Posted on 12/3/2019

    I have a 2019 Chevy Silverado Custom without Bose equipment, do you folks make a T- harness plug and play type harness to hook up an amplifier to factory radio?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 12/4/2019

    George, I can't find any T-harnesses for the non-Bose system.