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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 wire, as well as 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:

  • Jerry Schuivens from Lowell

    Posted on 11/28/2023

    Good afternoon I purchased the kicker49ptrtp10 with all the necessary wires and conectors My question is where the easiest spot is to tap in the signal wire on the rear speakers on a 2020 Chevy blazer non Bose system

  • Nat

    Posted on 8/28/2023

    I'm looking to install an amp in my 2012 Ford Fiesta SES with a factory head unit. What amp and wiring kit would you recommend?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 8/29/2023

    Nat, With questions like this, 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.
  • Kenneth from Bath, New York

    Posted on 7/31/2023

    I own 2 Infinity 1200 watt subs ( Dual voice coils). I am trying to get an idea on what would be a good amp to runs these subs.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 8/1/2023

    Kenneth, Is that sub power rating RMS? Are they DVC 2- or 4-ohm subs? Without knowing precisely what subs you're referring to, we can't help you with advice. If you want a question answered about a system, you must identify the gear by brand names and model numbers so we can get the right information to you.
  • Preston Thueson

    Posted on 3/20/2023

    I have a 1999 Toyota Tacoma extended cab. I just bought Kicker CSC65 6.5" speakers. How big of an amplifier should I get? And which one is best?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 3/20/2023

    Preston, You didn't say whether you had the 2-speaker or 4-speaker system, but a great (and in stock) 4-channel amp for your application would be a Pioneer GM-DX874. Give us a call so an Advisor can help you get everything you need for a successful amplifier installation.
  • DugEphresh from Alexandria

    Posted on 1/12/2023

    When grounding your amp, anything you grind to bare metal should be protected from rust when completed using an acceptable rust prevention protective product.

  • Seth Ferguson from St. Louis

    Posted on 4/5/2022

    My brother gave me his alpine amp&subs MRP-m1000. It did not come with a speaker input cable 4p. Do I need to purchase one separately ? And will any cable do or will it specifically have to be strong enough to handle the watt's? Thank you

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 4/6/2022

    Seth, I have no idea what a "speaker input cable 4p" is, nor what subwoofer you have, but that amplifier does not come with any wiring. You have to supply its power, ground, and turn-on wires; RCA interconnect wires; and speaker wires. The power and ground wires need to be 4-gauge, the speaker wires can be 12- to 16-gauge. Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you get the right wires and any other accessories you'll need to install your amp.
  • Ted Francis from Philadelphia

    Posted on 2/26/2022

    I have a Amp (pioneer GM-D8701 Amp) and pioneer a subwoofer (Pioneer TS-A120B Ported enclosure with one A-Series 12" 2-ohm) can I install this in my 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid (XLE touring) safely using factory head unit. Do need anything other than a 4 gauge wiring kit to install this properly and I believe I connect this to the battery in the rear. Any advice or tips? First time installer

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 2/28/2022

    Ted, A Line output converter will help safely get signal from your car for your sub amp's input. Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you pick the right one for your system.
  • Mike from BOWIE

    Posted on 1/27/2022

    I want to install an Amp to my JKU 2015 wrangler factory Alpine 430N . I was told I need to install a low output converter . Is this true ? Are there any instruction videos as to how ?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 1/28/2022

    Mike, For a vehicle like yours, the best way to add an amplifier and retain all the factory functions is by using an amplifier integration device and harness. A PAC AmpPro with a harness for select Jeep vehicles will probably work well. Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you pick out the perfect amp and interface for your system.
  • Vernon Sanders from BERWICK

    Posted on 7/13/2021

    Do you guys have a diagram of a 3 amplifier install?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/14/2021

    Vernon, There are many different configurations for a 3-amp system. Perhaps someday we'll put out diagrams for some of them. In the meantime, check out our Amp wiring diagrams showing a 2-amp solution.
  • Robert Elhardt from La Quinta

    Posted on 6/6/2021

    I have a very small teardrop travel trailer, space is at a minimum. Installed from factory is an underwhelming 12v 6 watt stereo/CD/DVD player matched to 2 6.5" speakers. I want to keep the unit with all its function and footprint but need to optimize audio quality. Is it possible to find a mini- amplifier to fit inside an enclosed cabinet? I'll also need to upgrade the speakers keeping their footprint. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 6/8/2021

    Robert, Crutchfield offers about six different compact 2-channel amps. Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you pick the perfect amp for your situation.

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