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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 wiring, as well 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:

  • 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

    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

    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?

    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.

    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.

    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

    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?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 12/4/2019

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

    Posted on 9/19/2019

    I had an aftermarket VFL 250.4 amplifier and (1) 15" 1,500 watt Clarion sub installed into my car. It is bridged on channels 1 and 2. A couple of American Bass mids are also hooked directly to the head unit. However, I kept my factory radio. The issue is every time I use the aux only the drivers side speaker delivers sound, which subtracts a substantial amount of wattage from my sub. How do I fix this?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/19/2019

    Maxwell, You should take your vehicle back to your installer and have them fix your system. If you bought your amp or sub from Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number is 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.
  • Al from Vista

    Posted on 6/14/2019

    I have a 2019 Toyota sienna do I need an Amplifier Adapter Interface to Factory OEM Car Stereo Radio.

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 6/17/2019

    Al, I can give you a firm "maybe" on that. It'll depend on exactly which factory system your vehicle has. Why don't you give us a call and talk with an Advisor who can help you get the right gear for your vehicle.
  • Jay from Phoenix

    Posted on 8/28/2018

    I just watched the install from this video and honestly hope that's not how crutchfield Installs are done? I love crutchfield and they have great service. But that install looked mediocre and lazy. Didn't even put a fork terminal on the power wire to the amp 12v input. Just wrapped and screwed down. You guys got me scratching my head on this one :/

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 8/29/2018

    Jay, There is not just one way to install an amplifier - everybody does it differently. This video shows what this one person did, not what everyone does. Some people think a direct wire-to-terminal connection is more reliable and conductive than one involving adding a crimped- or soldered-on spade connector.
  • Donnahue from Mount Vernon

    Posted on 6/17/2018

    I am upgrading the factory system in a 2000 Mustang. I would like to install the JL Audio JX400/4D amp in the same location when I remove the factory amp, which is located in the center console just below the radio. Do you think this location will provide adequate cooling for my amp?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 6/18/2018

    Donnahue, You should not mount that amplifier in the dash like the factory amp. Although it's small and runs cool, it still needs open air in order to dissipate heat adequately.
  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/13/2018

    Sam, There's really no way to know how long a specific installation will take. You could rush and tear panels apart, throw wiring around, and end up with a finished one-day build that may not even work. Or, you could take your time and work neatly and meticulously for a week and end up with a fantastic system. I expect the reality to be somewhere between those two extremes.

  • Sam from River Falls

    Posted on 4/12/2018

    About how long can I expect installation of four door speakers, two tweeters, and an amplifier to take in a 2016 Kia Optima LX? Some prior experience.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/7/2018

    Mitchell, It is best to ground all amps at the same spot, in order to help prevent noisy ground loops. Ground blocks are certainly useful and make for neat wiring, but they're not necessarily the best way to ground amps in all situations.

  • Mitchell Vernon from Platte City

    Posted on 3/6/2018

    If I'm wiring multiple amps, should they both be grounded to the same location or different? Would it be best to use a ground block? Thanks

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/19/2017

    Robert, An amplifier with speaker-level inputs will work in most situations. To make sure you get everything you need for such an installation, get in touch with a member of Crutchfield's Sales Advisor Team via phone or chat - just click on the Contact Us link at the very top of this page.

  • Robert McCann from Pembroke Pines

    Posted on 12/18/2017

    I have an old radio from the early 80's but it doesnt push the wattage through to my existing speakers. My wiring is nothing like the new harnesses. Ami i just out of kuck or can i connect an amp to them?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/30/2017

    Ben, A car amplifier needs its remote turn-on lead connected to a source of 12 volts in order to turn on. The source of that switched 12 volts can be the receiver's remote turn-on circuit or your vehicle's fusebox.

  • Ben Jones from Portland

    Posted on 10/28/2017

    Does the amp have to be connected to the Rem from the stereo to work?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/3/2017

    Sjon, Usually amplifiers go into protection mode when the impedance of the speaker is lower than what the amp can handle (1-ohm instead of 2-ohms, for example), or there's a short circuit in the amplifier's wiring. Check your wiring.

  • Sjon Mosch from Warmenhuizen

    Posted on 7/3/2017

    Hello, when i connect it to my car, he give a ter light protect, what are im doing rong? Greetz Sjon Mosch

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/11/2017

    Apollo, The remote turn-on lead wire connects to the "remote" terminal of an amplifier - usually spelled out on the chassis. The other end of that wire should connect to the "remote" terminal of an aftermarket receiver. If you have a factory radio with no remote connection, you use any convenient 12-volt source that turns off when the car's off - you can often find a circuit in the fuse box that can be used.

  • Apollo from Costa Mesa, CA 92626

    Posted on 3/10/2017

    My wiring kit did not come with a wire for the remote on the back of the stereo. Where does the remote wire go on the amp?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/10/2017

    Greg, A capacitor helps when a vehicle's lights dim along with loud music, so unless you're in that situation, there's no benefit in adding one.

  • Greg Goodman from Vincennes

    Posted on 2/10/2017

    I bought a ACP108LG-W3v3 and was wondering if I would need a power in line capacitor for this or not.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/1/2017

    Delbert, The amp's remote turn-on lead should connect to a switched source of 12-volts DC, so I don't see how a speaker wire would get involved. If you bought your amp from Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number is 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.

  • Delbert from Topeka

    Posted on 1/31/2017

    I bought a Clarion XC2110 and can't seem to have it come on. I have checked voltage on all wires and connection's and they all seem to be good. I couldn't get to the stock radio so I had to use a speaker wire for remote turn-on. The amp just won't come on.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/6/2017

    Juan, That amp has plenty of power for those speakers and sub. Check out this article on how to connect speakers to an amp using 9-conductor cable and your vehicle's speaker wiring. The signal flows from the receiver, through RCA cables to the amplifier, then from the amp's outputs back through the 9-conductor speaker cable to the vehicle harness, where you connect to the vehicle's speaker wires.

  • juan from Fort myers

    Posted on 1/6/2017

    I have a 1992 Lexus LS 400 and I'm building my system so far I have 5 channel amp (pioneer GM-D9605), 2 sets of (JBL Club 4020) 4" speakers, Pioneer AVH-X4800BS DVD receiver and Pioneer TS-SWX3002 12" subwoofer and I have some questions will that power enough signal to all the components (speakers and sub) will it work fine? And what's all the wiring I will need? Do I need to run speaker wire to each of those speakers because I'm not really understanding the diagrams you offer

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/4/2017

    Shannon, Matching audio gear together has to be specific - what model speakers and amps are you referring to? For instance, two speakers rated for 150 watts RMS each connected together to a 1000 watts RMS amp will likely blow to smithereens.

  • Shannon

    Posted on 1/3/2017

    Using 2 kicker freeair 6x9's 4ohm for midbass (no subs), the following taken from your glossary... "since mono amplifiers are stable to 2-ohms, you can connect them safely to two 4-ohm woofers wired in parallel." If I was to get a mono amp for these...good idea or bad?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/18/2016

    Nick, If you are unhappy with your amplifier installation you should go back to the installers and have them make corrections. You have a right to a working system, if you paid for one.

  • Nick

    Posted on 11/17/2016

    Hi. I allowed bestbuy to install my amplifier to my stereo and I wanna know I turn it off and just let the headunit play my speakers. When playing through USB, there is a white noise playing in the background. When I play it through bluetooth, the sound isn't there. It might be the headunit causing this noise, but I'm trying to figure out if it's the amp.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/6/2016

    Calvin, You should never attempt to connect live wires to an amplifier - it could electrocute you. Please disconnect the negative battery lead before doing any work involving your vehicle's electrical system. If your amp's fuse still blows after a proper installation, then it's indicating a short circuit (a wire in the wrong place) that needs to be corrected. If you bought your amp from Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number is 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.

  • Calvin from Lindsay

    Posted on 6/5/2016

    When I connect my hot to my amp it blows my fuse.

  • AJ Dawson from Denver

    Posted on 3/12/2016

    This video is extremely helpful! I plan on installing an Alpine MRV-F300 and a Kenwood KAC-9104D in my 2004 Mazda 3 that already has an aftermarket receiver. Any suggestions on wiring kits or mounting locations would be helpful. Also, this video doesn't address a distribution block for dividing the power to two different amplifiers, so any insight would be great also. Thanks! - AJ

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/25/2016

    Dave, That's quite a large amount of power for such a small vehicle's electrical system to handle. You may experience light-dimming or even engine cut-off when you play loud music without some sort of reinforcement applied to the car's electrical system. This article will provide some help in solving those issues if they do occur.

  • Dave from Lewiston

    Posted on 2/25/2016

    I have a 1996 Tercel and im going to install a 2 Slashv3 amps a 1200 and 300 rms in my car and a 13w7. I have a 50amp alternator. You have any suggestions

  • Michael from Winder, GA

    Posted on 2/13/2016

    I just bought an amp and wiring kit from Crutchfield, and this sounds like a good overview for the process.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/10/2016

    Dave, What you're looking for is a multi-amp wiring kit, and Crutchfield carries a few that might fit your needs. Give us a call.

  • Dave from Las Vegas

    Posted on 2/10/2016

    What kind of wiring kit should I use if I'm installing 2 amplifiers? Is it possible to run one power cable and then use a splitter?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/8/2016

    Juan, Without knowing precisely what amplifier you have, it is impossible to know if it might overwhelm your vehicle's electrical system or not. A 700 watts RMS amp may present a problem while a 700 watts "peak" amp would not.

  • Juan Romero from Rahway, New Jersey

    Posted on 2/6/2016

    Hello I'd like to know if with I can power up my accessories safely with my stock 80 amp alternator. I have kicker 200 watt peak speakers. 450 watt peak 150watt RMS subwoofer. Off a 700 watt amp. I appreciate the response.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/9/2015

    Piyush, I not sure where you got that phrase, but I think you're asking about the automatic signal-sensing circuit on some car amplifiers that use speaker-level inputs. When using the speaker-level inputs, this kind of amplifier senses the input signal and turns the amp's power on. This feature makes it easier to add an amplifier to a radio without RCA outputs or a remote turn-on connection.

  • Piyush from Delhi

    Posted on 11/9/2015

    what is sensing power input on any amp? can we connect through there??

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/3/2015

    James, You'll have to be much more specific when asking about your amplifier's power requirements. JBL does not make any amplifier that puts out just 100 watts, If you are referring to their MS-A1004 4-channel 100 watts RMS per channel amp, then you can use 8-gauge power and ground wires.

  • James R. Phifer from carlsbad n.m.

    Posted on 9/2/2015

    What gauge wire for power and ground I have a jbl 100wat amp

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/20/2015

    Kevin, I answered your comment on the Sub-tuning article with a suggested two 750-1200 watts RMS rated DVC 4-ohm subs solution. You could also use 4 DVC 2-ohm subs rated for 300-600 watts RMS each.

  • kevin from solomon

    Posted on 8/20/2015

    How many sub to use with a 4000 watts mono 1 stable ohm

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/14/2015

    Kim, Our Product Information team has not yet researched the 2015 Ford Focus, so I can't say whether or not it's easy, difficult, or even possible to install an amp in your car. Sorry.

  • Kim from Bunnlevel

    Posted on 8/14/2015

    I just purchased a 2015 Ford Focus. Is it possible to add my amp to this system?