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2004-2008 Acura TL

How to upgrade the stereo system in your TL

Acura TL

In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your TL'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 Acura.

Overview of the Acura TL

As Acura nears its 30th anniversary, it's hard to believe that anyone ever doubted Honda's ability to invent a brand and compete head-to-head with European sport sedans. "Not a chance," harrumphed the same sort of "industry experts" who thought the Cadillac Cimarron was a great idea. "Who's gonna pay that kind of money for a Japanese car?"

Quite a few people, as it turned out. Acura quickly went from a risky proposition to a serious player, and it's held station ever since. The brand's success changed the automotive landscape, as Nissan and Toyota quickly followed suit with upscale marques of their own: Infiniti and Lexus.

In the face of increased competition, Acura just kept cranking out great automobiles. The 2004-08 TL, for example, is a comfortable, stylish, sporty sedan that's sure to make both drivers and passengers happy. This car's looks, performance, and typical Honda quality make it a great choice for anyone looking for a sedan with a little something extra.

While upgrading the TL's receiver is incredibly difficult, you can still improve your sound with a well-chosen set of speakers and a subwoofer. We'll tell you all about it below.

Acura TL factory radio

The Acura TL's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The factory stereo system

The TL's factory audio system was pretty impressive, with 225 watts of power pumping through eight speakers, plus built-in Bluetooth and XM satellite radio capability. This was actually the first 5.1 surround sound system available in a regular production vehicle, and, though you needed to load the in-dash, 6-disc AM/FM/CD changer with discs specially formatted for 5.1-channel audio (DVD-Audio or DTS Surround – remember those?) to get the full effect, the sound was considered to be quite good with even a regular CD.

The only step-up for the TL was a DVD-based navigation system with an 8" touchscreen, voice-recognition, and a rear-view camera. The nav system also included Acura's 3D solar sensing technology, which would figure out where the sun was in relation to the passenger(s) and adjust the climate controls accordingly.

Pardon us for a moment while we abandon our usual editorial detachment and note, for the record, that a solar-sensing climate control system is just plain nifty. Ahem.

Acura TL radio cavity

Before you remove the TL's radio, you'll have to remove a lot of other things first (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the factory radio

Here's bottom line when it comes to replacing the stereo in your TL:

  • You'll need to do a ton of work just to get to the stereo in the first place.

  • You'll lose the center channel speaker and the factory subwoofer.

  • You'll lose the ability to adjust the clock when you remove the factory receiver.

We usually don't spend a lot of time and space describing factory systems, but this third-gen TL is an interesting case. Acura was quite proud of the work that went into the TL's stereo, which might explain why it's so incredibly difficult to remove and replace the receiver. It can be done, but the process seems designed to make you think long and hard about why you'd ever want to tamper with the wonderful stock system that Acura and Panasonic worked so hard to give you.

The TL's interior is a beautiful, smoothly integrated design that's lovely to look at and absolutely maddening to take apart. Removing the receiver is a complex, time-consuming 19-step process (trust us, we counted) that involves dismantling the TL's lower dashboard and center console. Oh, and if you replace the factory receiver, you'll lose your factory XM satellite radio.

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.

On the upside, once you've gotten the radio out of there, you can choose from a wide variety of single-DIN (2" tall) and double-DIN (4" tall) receivers, many of which are packed with great features like smartphone compatibility, built-in Bluetooth® connectivity, and customizable sound-shaping tools. You'll need a mounting bracket, but it's included at a discount with your Crutchfield purchase.

In all honesty, replacing the TL's factory receiver might involve more work than the average DIY enthusiast is equipped to handle. If you're an experienced installer or "good with tools," you might be okay. If that doesn't sound at all like you, it's probably best to have the work done by a professional.

That said, it's totally worth it. The base radio isn't awful, but the nav unit is ancient and likely bested by your smartphone when it comes to finding the nearest coffee shop. Updating those old maps isn't cheap, so it's smarter to just go for a new nav receiver with better maps and a lot more functionality.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver

Read our Car Stereo Buying Guide for shopping tips and advice.

Shop for car stereos that fit your Acura 3.2TL

Steering wheel audio controls

In most cases, it's reasonably easy to retain your car's steering wheel audio controls 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 a compatible aftermarket receiver.

Removing the factory speakers

The TL has speakers in the front doors, the dash, and the rear deck.

Acura TL front door

The Acura TL's front door (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Front door speakers

The TL's front doors contain a set of 6-1/2" 2-ohm speakers. Due to a rather shallow speaker cavity, aftermarket 6-1/2" replacements won't fit. And most 5-1/4" replacements won't fit without some modifications to the cavity.

The problem is two-fold. There isn't much space behind the speaker or in front of it. You can solve the "behind" problem by cutting out the rear of the factory mounting bracket to create room for your new speaker. But, alas, there's no way to make more room in front of the speaker.

To access the speakers, you'll need to remove the door panel. Start by prying out the screw cover behind the door release handle. Remove two exposed Phillips screws, then remove one Phillips screw located under the door pull handle. You'll then remove another Phillips screw in the rubber door stop, before removing the stop itself.

Acura TL front door speaker bracket

The TL's stock speaker bracket (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Next, you'll pry around the sides and bottom of the door panel to release a series of retaining clips. It's best to work slowly and carefully here, since you're dealing with plastic bits that can break off when treated roughly. Once you've gently loosened the clips, lift the panel, disconnect the wiring harnesses and door release cable, and remove the whole thing. Remove the three Phillips screws securing the factory speaker, pull out the speaker, and disconnect it.

With the old speaker out of the way, secure the new speaker to the speaker adapter bracket that's included free with your Crutchfield speaker purchase. As we mentioned above, you will probably need to remove the factory speaker bracket and cut out the rear portion to create the depth you need for the new speaker.

Connect the new speaker's wiring adapter to the vehicle's speaker harness, then secure the speaker with the screws you removed earlier. Give it a quick listen, and if everything works, you're ready to put the doors back together.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver

Acura TL center dash speaker

Removing the center speaker is surprisingly easy (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Dash speakers

The TL's upper dash features a center speaker and two tweeters in the corners, near the base of the A-pillars. They're all relatively easy to reach and replace, and it's definitely worth your time. Improving your soundstaging will make it seem as though your favorite band is playing a concert on your dashboard.

The center speaker is a 3-1/2", 4-ohm model located at the top of the center stack. To access this speaker, pry up the speaker/grille assembly; then disconnect and remove it. Remove the two Phillips screws securing the speaker to the bottom of the grille and set the old speaker aside.

Replacement 3-1/2" speakers are available, and they can be attached to the grille using the screws you just removed. Connect the speaker wiring adapter of the new speaker to the vehicle's speaker harness, reinstall the speaker/grille assembly and test to make sure it's operating properly.

While there aren't any individual replacements for the (roughly) 1-1/2" dash tweeters, this is a great place to install the tweeters that are part of any component speaker system. You'll need an adapter to hold the tweeter in place, but our universal backstrap will help here.

To access the tweeter, pry up the assembly, then pry out the clips on the rear of the speaker to release and remove it. Use your universal backstrap to fix the speaker in place, then connect the speaker wiring adapter of the replacement speaker to the TL's speaker harness. Reinstall the speaker/grille assembly, and you're done.

Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat-blade screwdriver

Acura TL rear deck speaker

The TL's rear deck houses two speakers and a subwoofer (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Rear deck speakers

The TL makes efficient use of its rear deck, housing two 20-watt 6-1/2" speakers and a 40-watt 8" woofer.

These 2-ohm models are quite easy to replace once you get to them, but getting to them, as with so many sedans, is a bit of a process. You'll need to remove both the bottom and back seat cushions, the rear deck cover, and the C-pillar trim. None of this is hard, as you'll see in the detailed Crutchfield MasterSheet included with your order, but it does take time, tools, and (perhaps most of all) patience.

If you do it yourself, we recommend blocking off at least an afternoon, depending on your level of experience. In other words, don't rush. We also suggest that you have a couple of old (but clean) blankets handy to protect your Acura's nice leather seats from dust and damage.

A wide variety of 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers are available for the TL, and we include adapter brackets that will help them fit right into the factory openings.

Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, socket wrench and extension, 8mm and 10mm sockets

Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information.

Shop for speakers that fit your Acura 3.2TL

Acura TL factory subwoofer

The TL's 40-watt subwoofer is located in the rear deck (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Bass in your Acura TL

As we mentioned above, the factory subwoofer is an 8", 2-ohm woofer. If you replace it with another sub, you'll want to add a new amplifier too, because the factory amp just isn't going to have the power for an aftermarket sub.

If one 8" subwoofer isn't enough bass for you, there's always the trunk. The available space for a sub box is 35" W x 16" H x 37"/33" D. If you only need a bit more bass and still want to occasionally haul luggage and groceries back there, you can choose from a number of powered subwoofers, or pair a compact class D amplifier with a woofer box. Either way, you can take your sound to new places without taking up the entire trunk.

Learn more about building a bass system in our Car Subwoofer Buying Guide.

Shop for vehicle-specific subwoofers for your Acura 3.2TL

weathertech custom floor liners

Keep your carpets looking sharp with a set of custom-fit WeatherTech floor liners

Other options for your Acura TL

There are plenty of other ways to improve your Acura TL. Here are some of the ways Crutchfield can help.

Protect the carpets with WeatherTech floor liners

It's easier than you think to mess up your Camry's interior while you're going about your daily business. Floor mats and liners from WeatherTech will help protect your car's carpeting from dirt and damage. And if they're already dirty and damaged, these mats will cover it up and make your car's interior a nicer place to be.

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 rear deck subwoofer, too. Learn more about adding amps to your system in our Car Amplifier Buying Guide.

Sound deadening

One good way to get the most out of your Acura's sound system is to keep more of the sound in your Acura. The Dynamat Xtreme Door Kit is the perfect way to seal out road noise and seal in the sound. This heavy-duty insulating material is easy to install, and it really makes a difference. This is a great thing to do while you’re installing new speakers. Why take the doors apart twice if you don’t have to? One kit will take care of the front doors on your TL. If you're adding a powerful subwoofer out back, purchase some extra Dynamat and line the trunk lid.


Installing a security system in your Acura TL 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 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

  • Jay from Atlanta

    Posted on 12/30/2022

    Any thoughts on just replacing the rear deck stereo speakers only and leaving all the other speakers factory? (since the other speakers are hard or even impossible to replace) Will the new speakers sound out of place playing along with the old speakers?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 1/3/2023

    Jay, 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.
  • Walter G from Philadelphia

    Posted on 9/26/2022

    Hello I have a 2005 Acura TL my current Original Car Radio System has completely stop working, my mechanic stated that I need another unit. I've always wanted to upgrade to a 2005 Acura TL Navigation System which I just recently just purchased. Since I've made this purchase what proper adjustments I must make before taking it to my mechanic for changing out my original Car Radio for the upgraded Navigation Radio?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 9/26/2022

    Walter, OEM-style swaps like that really aren't our area. You might want to consult some online owners' forums to see if any other TL owners have successfully managed this upgrade. Good luck!
  • Jason StOnge from Bedford

    Posted on 7/12/2022

    how long is the proces of removing the head unit aproximatly???

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 7/13/2022

    Jason, It's hard to put an approximate figure on the process, really. Skill levels vary, interruptions happen, etc. It takes as long as it takes. Besides, the goal is to do it right, not to do it fast. Clean an afternoon, then work carefully and stay patient.
  • Louis from NY

    Posted on 10/31/2021

    I wanted to upgrade my stereo Is there any way to add a aftermarket head unit and retain function of the stock sub and front dash speaker.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 11/1/2021

    Louis, Radio replacement is possible, but difficult. The sub and the center channel speaker cannot be retained if you replace the radio. Upgrading your other speakers might be the best way to get better sound.
  • Justin Madison from Richmond

    Posted on 10/27/2020

    I have a 2004 Acura TL and lately I've been having trouble with my factory stereo. Quite frankly, it just doesn't get loud anymore. I have the volume turned up to 40 (max) at all times and I'm still able to have conversations without raising my voice. The speakers aren't busted so I'm thinking it's an issue with the factory amplifier. Would I be able to install an aftermarket amplifier and retain all functionality of the factory system?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 10/27/2020

    Justin, It could be the speakers or a connection, but an am might also help. 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.
  • Angelo from Hampton

    Posted on 9/15/2020

    What can I do to fit aftermarket door speakers? I would like to go 6.5 but need help.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 9/16/2020

    Angelo, That's going to take some custom wiring and fabrication work, and it's not going to be easy or cheap. You might find some tips in an online owners' forum, but your best bet is to check with a car audio specialist in your area.
  • Noel Landas from LAVEEN

    Posted on 9/4/2020

    I have a 2006 Acura TL. I replaced the speakers (fronts/rears) , added a powered sub, and a new deck. It was great for the 1st few weeks but all of a sudden the right side speakers cut out every so often. What could be the problem? Some mentioned to bypass the factory there an easy way now that everything is tucked and I really don't feel like losing another day :-(....

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 9/8/2020

    Noel, Possible, but it could be as simple as a bad connection, so check those first. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.
  • Dustin Garcia from Middleburg

    Posted on 6/7/2020

    My 05 tl stopped playing CDs' and only the am/FM works. Any ideas/suggestions?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 6/8/2020

    Dustin, That could be a receiver that's on its last legs. 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.
  • Richard from Orlando

    Posted on 3/23/2020

    I want to increase the volume on my system. Will just replacing the speakers do the trick in my 2005 Acura TL? If I replace the sub woofer as you suggested, how much is the required Amplifier? I am sure the 2 front door speakers will also need replacing.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 3/24/2020

    Richard, Replacing the speakers is always a great way to get the most out of your factory radio. And adding a sub and an amp can be even better. 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.
  • Tim

    Posted on 9/1/2019

    I have 2006 Acura TL, does not come with auxiliary port. I wanted to know if I can replace this radio with 2007 or 2008 Acura radio? since Those have the auxiliary port

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 9/2/2019

    Tim, That kind of OEM-to-newer OEM swap is not really our area of expertise. If you're serious about maintaining Acura accuracy, you might want to check around on some owners' forums to see if anyone else has made that swap work. Failing that, give us a call and we'll help you find some aftermarket solutions. Good luck!

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