1999-2004 Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty
Upgrading the stereo system in your F-250 or F-350
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your truck's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. We'll tell you all about:
- The factory stereo system
- Removing the factory radio
- Removing the factory speakers
- Adding more bass
- Other options for your Super Duty truck
Then, use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Ford.
Overview of the Ford F-250 and F-350
The average pickup owner can drive for years without even approaching the limits of their truck's hauling and towing capabilities. Pickups are cool, useful, and fun to own, but let's be honest, even a "light-duty truck" can handle more hard work than most of us will ever need or want to deal with.
The heavy-duty (or, in Ford parlance, "Super Duty") F-250 and F-350 debuted as separate models in 1999, and immediately upped the ante in the never-ending game of "top this" that is the modern truck business. Bigger, stronger, and more powerful than the F-150 (or any other Ford pickups to that point, really) the F-250 and F-350 can still handle almost any work or play duties you can come up with.
Whether you're towing an RV, a racecar, a boat, or a mobile shop, these Super Duty trucks will get you where you're going with a surprising amount of comfort and style. A new stereo system will make the miles roll on even easier.
Several factory radios were offered. This is one of them. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The factory stereo system
These trucks could be ordered as no-frills work trucks all the way up to the tricked-out Lariat models with enough creature comforts to rival Ford's luxury cars. The factory radios also went from basic to better-than-average, but whatever's in your truck now is probably due for an upgrade. There was a time when an in-dash CD changer was a big deal, but that was a while ago.
You'll find a wide variety of aftermarket stereos to choose from, but there are some things to keep in mind as you're shopping. Plenty of single-DIN (2" tall) receivers will fit in the F-250 and F-350, but video receivers with retractable-screens won't work due to the dash configuration.
Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions
If you want to add video and/or navigation to your truck, you can install a double-DIN (4" tall) receiver, but you'll have to modify the sub-dash to create the space most of them need. Once you make that modification, you won't be able to re-install the factory radio, so bear that in mind as you shop. And also remember that when you buy your receiver from Crutchfield, you'll get a big discount on the dash kit and wiring harness you need to install your new stereo.
In this article, we'll hit the high points of replacing the radio and speakers in the Regular Cab, Super Cab, and Crew Cab models, since the only real difference is in the location and removal of the rear speakers.
A set of DIN tools is basically all you need to remove the stock receiver. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the factory radio
Removing and replacing the stock radio is pretty simple. You'll start by setting the parking brake and disconnecting the negative battery cable to prevent any electrical short.
Once that's straight, grab the set of DIN tools (included with your Crutchfield stereo purchase) and gently insert them into the holes in the face of the factory radio about 1" or until you hear a click on each side. Spread the tools apart slightly, pull out the radio, disconnect the harness, and get it out of there.
If you're installing a single-DIN radio, you can choose between dash kits with a storage pocket on the top or bottom. Each kit comes with instructions, but basically, you're just inserting the new receiver into a DIN sleeve and attaching it to the kit.
If you're installing a double-DIN, you'll need to create space for most CD/ DVD, or Navigation receivers. This isn't hard (instructions come with the dash kit), but the work you do cannot be undone, and the old radio can't be reinstalled.
Tools needed: DIN tool
Steering wheel audio controls
It's relatively easy to retain the steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo in your pickup. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.
The big front doors house 6"x8" speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the factory speakers
The F-250 and F-230 don't have a lot of speakers, but the ones they have are reasonably easy to replace.
The stock front speakers are reasonably easy to reach and replace (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door speakers
There are some nuances to replacing the F-250/F-350 door speakers, but there’s nothing terribly complicated about it. What you need to do depends on which truck you have, though, because there are some procedural differences between trucks with manual or power windows.
Basically, we’re talking about the difference between removing a window crank and removing a power switch panel, neither of which are hard things to do. All the step-by-step details, plus handy illustrations, can be found in your Crutchfield MasterSheet.
The factory speakers are Ford’s standard 6"x8" oval models, and they can be replaced by same-size or 5-1/4" aftermarket full-range speakers. When you order from Crutchfield, we'll make sure you also get the wiring harnesses you need, plus mounting brackets if you're installing 5-1/4" speakers.
You can install a set of component speakers in this truck, but you’ll need to do some fabrication work to mount the tweeters in the sail panels. Depending on your level of DIY expertise, you might want to hand that project off to a professional installer.
You can also install a set of Q-Forms Kick Panel pods. These custom speaker enclosures fit into the space where your kick panels are now. Once you install your new 6-1/2" component speakers, they'll direct great sound up towards your ears. They're available in a variety of colors to match your truck's interior. Installation isn't massively difficult, but if you're not an experienced DIY-er, it might be wise to turn this job over to a car audio pro, too.
Power windows: small flat blade screwdriver, panel tool, 5/16" and 9/32" sockets, ratchet and extension, Torx T-15 driver
Manual windows: small flat blade screwdriver, panel tool, 9/32" socket, ratchet and extension, Torx T-20 driver
The rear speakers are also 6"x8" models, and wheever they are, they're not hard to replace (Crutchfield Research Photo)
All 1999-2004 F-250s and F-350s come with factory 6"x8" rear speakers, but with three cab styles available, there are some differences in how you go about removing and replacing them.
The "regular cab" trucks have speakers in the rear side panels (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Standard Cab rear speakers
The Standard Cab pickup's rear speakers are behind the seats, in the lower corners of the cab wall. A better set of speakers can make a real difference back here, so we strongly recommend replacing the old ones. You’ll need to remove some panels, but the overall process is reasonably easy to handle.
You can replace the factory 6"x8" oval models with same-size or 5-1/4" aftermarket speakers, and we'll make sure you order the harnesses and mounting brackets you’ll need to install them. There are no factory brackets, since the stock speakers mount directly to the metal side wall.
Before you put things back together, test the speakers to make sure they’re working properly. Disassembling this location isn’t hard, but that doesn’t mean you want to do it twice.
Tools needed: panel tool, 7/32" and 15mm sockets, ratchet and extension
Super Cab trucks usually have speakers in the rear doors. This base-model truck didn't, but the opening and wiring are still there (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Super Cab rear speakers
The Super Cab model featured a rear seat/storage area with smallish doors on wither side of the cabin. Speaker-wise, each door contains a factory 6"x8" speaker that you can replace with same-size or 5-1/4" aftermarket models. Again, we'll make sure you get the harnesses and mounting brackets you’ll need to install them.
Getting to these speakers isn't difficult, but there are a few steps involved, so stay organized and be patient with the plastic panels. Your Crutchfield MasterSheet contains detailed disassembly instructions for each door, so you can totally do this yourself. Don't forget to test the speakers (not to mention the windows and locks) to make sure they’re working properly before you put everything back together.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, Torx T50 driver, 1/4", 9/32", and 5mm sockets, ratchet and extension
The Crew Cab's rear speakers are also in the rear side panel (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Crew Cab rear speakers
The Crew Cab's rear speakers are behind the seats, in the lower corners of the cab wall – just like in the Standard Cab. Each door houses a factory 6"x8" speaker that you can replace with same-size or 5-1/4" aftermarket models. We'll make sure you get the harnesses and mounting brackets you’ll need to install them. The removal process is quite similar to the Standard Cab, and it's all detailed in your MasterSheet.
On both the Standard Cab and Crew Cab trucks, make sure the seat belt anchors are secured to manufacturer's specifications before you button everything up and hit the road.
Tools needed: panel tool, Torx T50 driver, 5mm sockets, ratchet and extension
Bass in your F-250 or F-350
There's not a ton of room for a subwoofer box in these trucks, but if you're curious, we'll give you the specs. We'll also give you some custom-fit suggestions to add bass without devouring your available cargo space.
Available area for mounting a sub box behind the seat in the Standard Cab is 42"W x 25"H x 6-11" D (top) and 10-14" D (bottom). That width measurement was taken between the plastic rear side panels (the maximum width to sit flush against the cab rear). The first depth numbers are with the seat all the way back, and the second numbers are with the seat all the way forward.
There is a small seat that fits into the SuperCab. We measured without it and came up with 52" W x 28" H x 17" D (top)/19" D (bottom) space. The CrewCab offers the least amount of useable space for subwoofers, anyway. The space, such as it is, is 35" W x 16" H x 4"/6" D.
If you’re really into bass and appreciate the style of custom-fit installations, MTX Thunderforms could be a great choice for your F-250 or F-350. When you enter your truck's information, you'll see which of these rugged enclosures, available in loaded or unloaded versions, are designed specifically for your truck. The fit is fantastic and you can choose a color to match your truck’s interior.
If you're not that much of a basshead and/or you still need your truck's behind-the-seat space for storing tools and stuff, you might want to look into a powered subwoofer. You’ll get plenty of bass, without giving up as much interior cargo space.
Other options for your F-250 or F-350
Here are some other great ideas for your Ford truck.
Rear-view cameras for better visibility
As you've probably noticed by now, your F-250 or F-350 is somewhat larger than, say, a Ford Fiesta. As a result, it's no party in crowded parking lots. A rear-view camera will really help increase your visibility and safety when your busy day takes you into town. It can also be a massive help when you're backing up to a trailer.
Dynamat to shut out the noise
This is a big truck with a big engine, so it punches a big, loud hole in the air at highway speeds. To keep wind noise and road roar from undoing the great work your new stereo is doing, be sure to install Dynamat when you're replacing your speakers. This material is a great way to dampen the sounds you don't like and get more enjoyment out of the ones you do.
Add an amp (or two)
A new 4-channel amplifier will help you get the most out of your new speakers. You'll get cleaner power (and a lot more of it), which will result in much, much better sound. A mono amp can provide the juice you need for a new subwoofer.
No matter how well you treat your truck, you're eventually going to get involved in some sort of truck-like activity that gets you and/or it dirty. When that happens, it's a good idea to have a set of WeatherTech Floor Mats on board. These incredibly durable mats trap moisture, contain dirt, and keep your factory carpets looking good.
Security and remote start
Installing a security system in your truck isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but considering how popular these trucks (and the trailers behind them) still are, 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 truck and new gear to a professional installer.