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1999-2006 Volkswagen Golf and GTI

Upgrading the stereo system in your Golf or GTI
1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006

volkswagen GTI golf

In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your car's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. We'll tell you all about: 

Then, use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your vehicle. 

Overview of the Volkswagen Golf

There's always been a lot to like about the VW Golf. Even in base form, the Golf is stylish, practical, comfortable, and even kinda fun. In GTI form, it's all of those things, just with a lot more power and even better handling, which makes it even more fun.

Know what else is fun? An awesome stereo. Whether you're planning a larger customization project or just looking for a way to add some joy to your daily driving, we can help you find the right gear for your Golf.

This Golf generation debuted in mid-1999 and stuck around until mid-2006. Because of those odd mid-year intros, you'll be asked to specify whether you have the "old" or "new" body style when you enter your vehicle info for '99 or '06 cars. Hopefully, this will eliminate any confusion, but if you have questions, just give us a call.

vw golf gti radio

The double-DIN (shown) and single-DIN factory radios are very easy to remove and replace (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The factory stereo system

The Golf's factory radios are pretty basic by today's standards. Package-wise, there was the base system and the optional Monsoon system. The radios look pretty much the same, though, so how do you tell which system you have? If you have the Monsoon system, the receiver display will flash the word "Monsoon" when you turn it on. Or, you can look for the amplifier, which can be found on the right side of the rear deck in sedans.

Radio replacement is pretty easy in these cars, but on 2004-up models equipped with OnStar, you'll lose the voice prompts when you replace the factory radio. This is a pretty old edition of OnStar, though, so you might not miss it.

volkswagen golf gti radio replacement

You'll need two of these tools to remove a single-DIN radio and four for a double-DIN like this one (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the factory radio

Replacing the radio in your Golf or GTI is pretty uncomplicated. If you're new to car audio DIY, this can be a real confidence-builder.

You'll start by setting the parking brake and disconnecting the negative battery cable to prevent any electrical short, because nothing destroys one's confidence more than being electrocuted by a car that's rolling slowly down a hill. Once you've done those things, you're ready to get started. You'll need one pair of VW-specific radio removal tools for a single-DIN (2" tall) radio and two for the double-DIN (4" tall) models, and they're included with your Crutchfield stereo purchase.

Insert the tools into the slots on each side of the factory radio face and slowly press them in until you hear a click on each side. The click will unlock the radio, and you'll pull the tools towards you to remove it. Disconnect the wiring harness and unplug the antenna lead, then remove the old radio and start installing the new one.

Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions

MasterSheet image
With step-by-step disassembly instructions and plenty of up-close, detailed photos, our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™ takes the guesswork out of removing the factory stereo and speakers. It's free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one separately for just $9.99.

When you buy your stereo from Crutchfield, we'll give you a deep discount on the wiring adapter you'll need to connect the new receiver to the factory wiring. It'll come with its own instructions, which you'll follow as you connect it to the receiver.

With almost all aftermarket receivers, you'll have to remove the factory radio's rear support bracket. This isn't hard, but work carefully even though no one will ever see anything you mess up. And if you're using an antenna adapter, be sure the antenna cable (lead) is plugged in and the power wire is connected to the receiver's power antenna wire before you install the receiver.

Once the new receiver is in place and hooked up, test it and make sure it's working before you move on to anything else.

Tools needed: VW radio removal tools

Steering wheel audio controls

If you're Golf or GTI has steering wheel audio controls, you can retain them when you install a new stereo. 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.

Shop for car stereos that fit your Volkswagen Golf

volkswagen golf gti front door speaker

You'll need to remove the rubber ring surrounding the woofers, then drill out the rivets (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the factory speakers

The degree of difficulty involved in speaker replacement varies a bit, but it's still a job that's well within the range of the average car audio DIY-er. There are some slightly challenging bits, but you can do this.

Removing the front door woofers

Removing and replacing the door speakers will make good use of the confidence gained while replacing the radio. It's not a hard job, but depending on how your car is equipped, there can be some interesting parts. Once you have the old ones out, you can install your choice of 5-1/4", 6-1/2", or 6-3/4" aftermarket woofers (component systems are highly recommended here) and enjoy vastly improved sound whether you replace the radio or not.

You'll need to remove the door panels to get to the woofers and the tweeters, a process that's detailed in the Crutchfield MasterSheet that's included with your stereo or speaker purchase. There are some differences between the driver's side and passenger's side doors, and some other differences that depend on whether your car has manual or power windows. Either way, it's all covered in the MasterSheet. 

Once you've removed the panels, you'll need to remove the rubber ring surrounding the woofers. Use a cordless drill and a 3/8" bit to drill out the rivets securing the speaker assembly to the door. Pull out the assembly, disconnect the harness, and remove the speaker. Use a nail punch to knock out the remaining rivet bits in the mounting surface to make sure nothing interferes with installing the new ones.

Your speaker purchase includes (if needed) mounting brackets to help install your new speakers. Secure each speaker to the bracket following the instructions supplied with the brackets, then place the assembly in the speaker location, mark your new mounting holes, and drill new holes with a 1/8" bit. For final installation, make sure the bracket is positioned with the slot for the wires on top. If your new speakers don't include mounting screws, you'll need to make a trip to the hardware store before you begin the installation.

Drilling isn't hard, of course, but you're drilling into a car – your car – so you'll want to do it right. Make sure you know what's around and behind what you're drilling into, work carefully, and always wear eye protection.

When it comes to connecting the speakers, there's another variation to note. If your car has the Monsoon system, your purchase will include the wiring harness adapters needed to make the necessary connections. If your car has the base model stereo system, there's no harness available at this time, so you'll need to use Posi-Products speaker connectors to connect the new speakers to the factory wiring system.

Once the new woofers and tweeters are installed, test them out to make sure they're working properly. If they are, then you're ready to put the doors back together. When you do, make sure the locks and latches are functioning properly. Now, let's talk about those tweeters. 

vw golf jetta gti front tweeter

Replacing the tweeters involves a bit of work, but it's nothing a DIY-er can't handle (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the front tweeters

The factory tweeter is a 1.569" model that's molded into the door sail panel. You'll be able to get to them when you remove the door panels. They're kind of tricky to remove, but it can be done if you work carefully.

There are no direct replacements available, but pretty much any component system tweeters will fit if you secure them with universal backstraps, hot glue, or silicone. No wiring harness is available for this location, so you'll need to use Posi-Products speaker connectors to connect then to the factory wiring.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, flat blade screwdriver, 1/8" and 3/8" socket, ratchet & extension, hole punch, Torx T-15 driver

vw golf jetta rear door

The rear door speakers are a lot like the ones up front. Same goes for the removal process. (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the rear door speakers (4-door)

Pretty much everything we mentioned above also applies to the rear door woofers and tweeters. That took a long time to type, so we're not going to go through it again. Our much-more-industrious Research Team did go to the trouble of writing it all down, however, and all the details can be found in your MasterSheet.

If you run into trouble here, or at any other point in your installation, remember that your Crutchfield stereo purchase also includes free tech support for the life of your gear. We're here if you need us, so give us a call.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, flat blade screwdriver, 1/8" and 3/8" socket, ratchet & extension, hole punch, Torx T-15 driver

vw golf gti gold rear side speaker

You'll need to remove the rear side panels to get to the speakers. It's not hard, but it can take some time. (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the rear side speakers (2-door)

The 6-1/2" rear side panel woofers found in the two-door models can be replaced with a wide variety of aftermarket models. Some will require mounting brackets, which will be included along with your Crutchfield speaker purchase. The tweeters are a smidge under 1-1/2" and can be replaced with lots of different component tweeters.

The stock woofers only produce bass, so the simplest swamp will involve a set of component speakers. If you want to get full-range sound from this location, you'll need to install an aftermarket stereo and bypass the factory amp by splicing together its input and output wires. Like we said, component speakers are easier.

As for the actual speaker removal process, it's a bit involved, but it's still do-able for a DIY-er. You'll start by folding up the rear seat bottom and pressing the seat bars toward each other to remove it. Lower the rear seat back, raise the outer edge, and work the seat latch away from the center seat to remove the seat. Be sure to store the seats in a clean, dry place until it's time to put them back in the car.

Remove one plastic nut located on the wheel well and pry out the forward front edge of the rear side panel to release two retaining clips. Pry out bottom front edge of panel to release two more plastic clips Disconnect the tweeter harness while you're still holding out the panel.

Keep holding out the panel and push toward the rear of the car just enough to disconnect two metal clips from the other panel. Slowly work the panel out of car and set it aside. Remove the four Phillips screws securing the speaker, disconnect it, remove it, and get to work installing the new woofer.

If you're replacing the tweeters, the work's pretty simple, but there are no mounting brackets for these speakers, so you'll need to secure them with universal backstraps, hot glue, or silicone. No wiring harness is available for this location, so you'll need to use Posi-Products speaker connectors to connect then to the factory wiring.

Once you're done, be sure to test the speakers to make sure they're working. If they are, start putting the panels back together. If you run into trouble, remember that your Crutchfield speaker purchase also includes free tech support for the life of your gear. We're here if you need us, so give us a call.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver

Shop for speakers that fit your Volkswagen Golf

vw golf gti trunk

There's plenty of room for a subwoofer box in the Golf's trunk (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Bass in your Golf or GTI

If you're really serious about bass, these cars do offer some space for a subwoofer box. Your Golf or GTI sports a 39" W x 18" H x 31"/23" D space in the cargo area. How big you go depends on how much you use that area for everyday tasks. If you're worried about losing cargo room, consider a smaller powered subwoofer.

Focal AP 4340 Auditor Series 4-channel car amplifier

A 4-channel amp (like this one from Focal) will really improve your car's sound.

Other options for your Golf or GTI

With cars like these, there are lots of ways to upgrade your in-car experience. Here are some of the ways Crutchfield can help.

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 your new subwoofer, too.

Quiet road noise with Dynamat

These are reasonably quiet, well-assembled cars, but they have a few years on them and that's when things get squeaky and loud. A Dynamat Xtreme Door Kit will really maximize the impact of your new system. This heavy-duty insulating material is easy to install, and it really makes a difference. One kit should be more than enough for your Golf.

Add a security system

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

Let's get started!

Ready to shop? Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your car or truck. If you have questions of your own, give us a shout via phone, chat, or email

  • Miroslav Nad from COTTONDALE AL USA

    Posted on 12/15/2021

    I am hesitant. I bought the Sony head unit and have the adapter harness... but there is an amplifier in the trunk. Will it plat with OEM amplifier without frying the Sony headhunt?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 12/16/2021

    Miroslav, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.
  • Cy from Seattle

    Posted on 10/16/2021

    How hard is it to remove the factory Monsoon amp and rewire a aftermarket amp in place of it? I replaced all 4 monsoon speakers with some Focals but the factory amp doesn't have enough power to move them.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 10/18/2021

    Cy, That depends on your skill level, of course, but we can help you figure it out. With questions like this, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system.
  • Jonathan Delamar from Fort worth

    Posted on 7/26/2021

    So I have a problem with my wiring I suppose. When I installed the aftermarket radio on my car (02 vw golf) I noticed that it powers up when the key is not in the ignition. This is a huge problem because it kills my battery. I have wired everything properly and I even replaced the entire ignition assembly. (It was already broken. I had to start the car with a screwdriver.) It still powers on without the key. I was told to find a wire that has power when the car is on but not when it's off and then just tap into that wire to power the radio. Any suggestions?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 7/27/2021

    Jonathan, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system.
  • Erik from Yuma

    Posted on 4/17/2020

    Great info! I want to change my rears to a focal 165as2 and my fronts to a focal 165as3; if I do this will I need to run all new wires from my aftermarket head unit to the amp, to the new speakers? I was looking at the 4 channel class d that offers 120w x 4 at 4 ohms

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 4/17/2020

    Erik, Excellent choices! I've sent your question to our sales team, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

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