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1973-1986 Jeep CJ5 and CJ7

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Jeep CJ

In a Nutshell

In this article, we'll tell you how to install car audio gear in your Jeep CJ. Installing a new receiver will give you better sound, plus modern features like smartphone compatibility. You'll also get preamp outputs that will let you expand your system with a subwoofer.

The Jeep's speakers are pretty basic, so you'd do well to replace them. To get maximum performance out of your new receiver and speakers, you might want to add an amplifier. An amp will give you better sound at higher volumes because you won't have to push your system to its absolute max.

If you like running your Jeep topless or you're a hardcore off-roader, consider weatherproof marine-rated audio gear. There are also plenty of Jeep-specific speakers and subs available, so enter your vehicle info to see everything that fits your CJ.

Full Story

Overview of the Jeep CJ

We don't remember the last time we saw a totally box-stock Jeep CJ5 or CJ7 on the road. We know they're out there, of course, but most of the older Jeeps we come across have been modified for maximum off-road capability. Thick roll bars, big tires, lift kits, light bars, and heavy-duty winches are as close to standard equipment on these vehicles as anything aftermarket could be. Considering that the original, military-grade Jeeps were identical, olive-drab vehicles designed for a very serious purpose, it's kind of neat to see how individual owners modify their rides for serious fun.

When you're climbing desert dunes or fording mountain streams in your Jeep, you're probably too busy to worry about sound and music. But when you're driving around town, a quality stereo is nice to have. If you're looking for great-sounding audio gear that's tough enough for Jeep duty, you've come to the right place.

We've done plenty of research on the CJ, and we've come up with a decent list of stereo upgrade ideas. That said, no one's done more research or come up with more innovative upgrade ideas over the years than actual CJ owners. If you have any suggestions, tips, or even corrections, please use the Comments section at the bottom of the article. We'd love to hear from you!

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 Jeep, 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.

Jeep CJ-7 radio

This is obviously not the CJ's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Factory stereo system

The long-running CJ5 didn't change much (visually, anyway) over the years, but it did get a new dash in 1973. That's where we pick up the story. The center dash cluster housed the speedometer, fuel gauge, temperature gauge, and…that was pretty much it, though some Jeeps were equipped with ridimentary in-dash or under-dash radios.

The CJ7, which debuted in 1976, was a bit wider and had a 10" longer wheelbase. Designed to be a little more user-friendly than the CJ5, the CJ7 offered an optional hardtop, doors, and even an automatic transmission. Creature comforts increased over the years, but the CJ7 probably didn't distract anyone who came to their friendly neighborhood dealership looking for a luxurious Concord sedan or a peppy (-ish) Renault Alliance.

The dash grew a few more knobs, switches, and whatnot over the years, but the CJ's interior was always a spartan environment. The shaft-style factory radio, if present, is located in that center dash area. The speakers were located in the dashboard itself.

Jeep CJ-7 aftermarket radio

A closer look at the vintage cassette receiver (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Replacing your factory radio

A lot of CJs have been modified by previous owners, so finding one with the original radio in the original location is somewhat unusual. In many cases, you'll find an older shaft-style aftermarket receiver, as seen in our photo Jeep. You'll also see receivers and equipment installed under the dash, which was common for the time.

If you're replacing a shaft-style radio and wish to retain that old-school look, Retrosound offers an impressive selection of digital media receivers that fit right in and sound great. These models don't play CDs, but you'll be able to enjoy your digital music from iPod®, iPhones®, Android™ phones, music players, and USB thumb drives. Complete removal and replacement instructions for shaft-style radios can be found in the Crutchfield MasterSheet (a $10 value) that's included with your receiver purchase.

If you're one of those Jeep owners who's happiest when the top is off and the trail is rough, you might want to take a look at our selection of marine-rated receivers. They're more than tough enough to handle a little rain or creek water, plus they're sealed to keep out salt and spray, so they can stand up to mud and sand, too.

Our database doesn't provide exact matches automatically, but if you measure the space you have available, we can help you find a receiver that's right for the space. Give us a call and our advisors will be happy to help.

Shop for car stereos that fit your Jeep CJ5

Replacing your factory speakers

Depending on the vintage, your CJ has speakers in the dash – and/or anyplace else a previous owner decided to put some.

Jeep CJ dash speaker

Later CJs offered dash speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Dash speakers

Assuming your Jeep has dash speakers in the first place, they're probably in need of replacement – especially if they're the original factory speakers. Most Jeeps live busy, active, outdoorsy lives, and that can be hard on electronics. Thankfully, we also stock marine-rated speakers for your Jeep.

A variety of 5-1/4" models will fit in your Jeep, but mounting depth is an issue due to the rather shallow dashboard. Even so, we also highly recommend a set of foam baffles, which reduce rattling and help your speakers perform at their best in the Jeep's cockpit. You'll want to look for 5-1/4" speakers that are shallow enough to fit in the dash with the baffles attached.

A set of component speakers can really help boost your sound, but mounting the tweeters will require some creativity on your part. Then again, it's an old Jeep, so the previous owner could have sawed out a couple of great big openings and installed a pair of 6-1/2" component speakers. Stranger things have happened.

If the speakers are behind the factory grilles, they're still easy to remove and replace. On driver's side, you'll need to remove Torx screws from the emergency brake handle and push the handle aside to gain some working room. If you need more, remove 3 Torx screws from the dash panel. This will allow you to pull the panel out for additional clearance.

Unscrew four nuts securing the speaker to the back of the dash, then disconnect the speaker wiring connector and remove the speaker. Connect the new speaker wiring connector and slide the replacement speaker behind the dash grille. Secure the speaker to the studs with the nuts you removed earlier, then test everything out. If it sounds good, you're done!

Jeep CJ aftermarket deck speaker

Here's one owner's aftermarket rear speaker installation. This photo was taken a few years ago, so obviously there are newer ways to add sound to your CJ. (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Additional speaker options

The Jeep CJ was around for a lot of years, and the automotive aftermarket never stopped coming up with innovative products to help loyal owners get the most out of their rides. Dash speakers are only the beginning, as it turns out. There are lots of great ways to boost your CJ's sound, and Select Increments has been one of the leaders in Jeep-specific enclosures.

If you're looking for an alternative spot for your 5-1/4" speakers, try the Select Increments Mod-Pod, a pair of unloaded enclosures that fit under each door. They're designed to hold 5-1/4" speakers, but you can enlarge the opening if you need to. The speakers, of course, are not included.

Select Increments Mod-Pod

The Select Increments Centra-Pod, on the other hand, mounts under the dash on the transmission hump of your Jeep. The Centra-Pod, which also holds a pair of 5-1/4" speakers of your choosing, radiates the sound directly towards the driver and the passenger for vastly improved soundstaging. The tough plastic enclosure protects the speakers from damage, whether you're off-road or on the way to work.

Your CJ obviously isn't much of a concert hall, but the "listening room" in your house can't get you to your duck blind, either. A CJ is made for action, not for sound, but you can always make it sound a whole lot better. If you want to boost both your full-range and your bass, mount a set of Select Increments Quad-Pods behind the rear seats of your Jeep. Each one holds an 8" subwoofer and a 6-1/2" speaker of your choosing. The tough plastic enclosures come with all mounting hardware and rugged 8" metal-mesh subwoofer grilles.

You can also mount marine tower speakers your Jeep's rollbars if you'd like. Or build a pair of boxes and mount a set of speakers on the rear fenderwells, like our CJ7's original owner. If you own an old CJ, your only limit is your imagination. If you're looking for inspiration, check out our entire selection of Jeep-specific enclosures, or visit our Custom Car Showroom to see what other owners have done with their Jeeps.

Shop for speakers that fit your Jeep CJ5

Select Increments Intra-Pod for the Jeep CJ

Select Increments Intra-Pod subwoofer enclosure for the Jeep CJ

Bass in your Jeep CJ

Nothing goes better with the great outdoors than serious, ground-pounding, tree-shaking bass. Okay, okay, we're kidding. But if you want better bass, there are some nifty, custom-designed enclosures designed for your CJ. Just remember to tread lightly and be kind to your four-footed friends. We mean it.

The Select Increments Intra-Pod is a great way to add some kick to your CJ. This textured plastic subwoofer enclosure is molded to fit neatly between the front seats. It will hold an 8" sub, and comes with a sturdy speaker grille and installation hardware. The console features two extra-large cup holders, a locking storage compartment, and storage pockets for your iPod® or cell phone. You can also mount an amp in the ventilated cavity located in the base of the enclosure, which screws securely into the floorboard of your Jeep.

There's also the Select Increments Stealth-Pod, a space-saving way to add some kick to your CJ. This rugged 1/4"-thick black plastic box mounts on the tailgate via bracket hangers which isolate the enclosure and reduce noise-causing vibrations. Just install the 10" sub of your choice, then add an amplifier and wiring. Some slight drilling modification to the tailgate or enclosure may be required, so be sure and take all necessary safety precautions.

Shop for vehicle-specific subwoofers for your Jeep CJ5

Other options for your CJ

Here are some other smart ideas for updating your vintage Jeep CJ5 or CJ7:

Navigation

Your Jeep's dash isn't going to hold a big-screen navigation receiver without a lot of customization. For the best directions, whether you're on the trail or off, a portable GPS is probably the choice for the active Jeep owner. Another bonus? You can slip it into your pocket and take it with you.

Smaller subwoofers

If you don't want to go to the trouble of adding a built-in sub or speaker enclosure, you can always add a powered sub and secure it in your Jeep's cargo area. Or, you can add a marine-rated amp and subwoofer combo so you won't have to worry about sudden showers or splashes.

Security

Installing a security system in your Jeep isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your Jeep and your new security gear to a professional installer.

Shop for car security systems for your Jeep CJ5

Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck

Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/6/2017

    Rick, Yeah, I think you got me there. I dug around some additional source material, and radios were in fact a thing before '81. Some were factory, some were dealer-installed, but they were definitely available. The article has been edited to reflect that. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  • Rick from Massillon

    Posted on 11/5/2017

    Umm. You better go back and check your facts. I know for a fact that my 78 CJ5 came with a factory AM radio, so they were in long before the 1981 you mentioned. My fathers 1960-something CJ5 had an AM radio.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/1/2017

    Keith, Good point! A manual transmission really is a pretty good theft deterrent these days, isn't it?

  • Keith from new caney

    Posted on 2/28/2017

    I have a 73 cj5 completely original. I don't worry mUchiha about a security system. Manual 3 speed with non power brakes and steering most people under 30 aren't able to drive it.

  • Mart

    Posted on 11/13/2016

    Didn't know what an actual radio for a CJ looked like till this article. I am somewhat like Gene's statement. I have a 1980 cj5 all pretty much original. Engine overhauled about at about 160K miles. It's an every day driver as long as the weather is nice. Does need some restoration work. Total miles is somewhere around 200K. I am the second owner.

  • Lori A from Topeka

    Posted on 9/10/2016

    I had s 1984 CJ7 Renegade. I truly miss it, wish I still had it.

  • Gene H from Alto, NM

    Posted on 8/5/2016

    My '80 CJ 7 very close to stock with the exception of Cow Catcher front bumper and Warn Winch. Engine rebuild at 100,000 miles and transmission 5,000 miles later .........All else still going strong 36 years later. Keep up the good work!

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/15/2016

    Randy, There's really no one designer (That I know of, anyway....) associated with the CJ5, which gradually evolved from the original military-spec Jeeps. But the AMC/Jeep design team deserves credit for the sharp-looking graphics packages on the Renegade and Super Jeep models.

  • Randy Crittenden from Cleveland, Tn

    Posted on 3/15/2016

    Can you tell me who designed the 1973 CJ-5 jeep?

  • Roy Cochran from Pittsburgh Pa.

    Posted on 6/21/2015

    I had a 1975 CJ-5 and installed marine wakeboard speakers on my rollbar. It sounded great

  • Vincent D from MD

    Posted on 6/12/2015

    Can you guys do articles on the 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2005-2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and 2011-present Jeep Grand Cherokee? Thanks and keep up the good work!


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