How to Install A Car Radio Head Unit Edit

Do your car speakers make music sound muted and dull? If you install a car radio head unit you should hear an improvement. You'll need to make sure you get the right parts, remove your old unit, and connect the new unit to your car. Soon, your speakers will start sounding great again.

Steps Edit

  1. 1

Inspect the unit to be installed making sure all the parts you need for the install are present(i.e. screws, harness, face plate, and mounting sleeve) and verify that it will properly fit your vehicle. ( offers an abundance of factory and aftermarket radio information)


  1. 2

Purchase all the necessary parts to install radio such as a Dash kit, Wiring Harness, Antenna adapter, and in some cases, a premium sound integration unit.

  1. 3

Remove the negative terminal of your battery.

  1. 4

Take your car radio head unit out of the dash. A vehicle repair manual is highly recommended. Also, the vehicle specific kit will contain detailed information on radio removal. Removal of dashboard components may be required, and if you don't know how to remove the parts properly, permanent damage may occur. In some cases, you may find two pairs of holes on the left and right of the face of the radio (most Fords)or slots (most European vehicles) in the front of your radio. These are called "key holes" and will require a special tool that can be purchased at most car audio stores or online.

  1. 5

Disconnect the car radio head unit wiring. With most harnesses, you will have to squeeze a clip or two for the harness to release from the radio. Make sure that you examine the harness before pulling on it. Be sure the harness you purchased fits the vehicle harness. If it doesn't, take the radio to a car audio shop and have them locate the correct harness adapter.

  1. 6

Disconnect the antenna (usually a thick black wire but can also be a thick single wire). Using a pair of pliers at the base of the wire may help. Make sure you are pulling on the connector and not the wire as this will cause signal loss.

  1. 7

Assemble the Dash kit according to the instruction. Use either the cage mount method (which involves using the metal sleeve that goes around your radio) or the ISO mount method which involves using the screws that were included with the radio. When ISO Mounting a radio you use the factory brackets or brackets supplied with the new ISO Mount dash kit to Mount the radio. Do not cut an ISO Mount kit and install the metal radio sleeve! If you cannot find the screws you can usually purchase them at your local car audio shop. (Make sure they do not exceed the maximum limits the manufacturer specifies or you will damage the radio.

  1. 8

Wire up the new radios harness to the harness you purchased making sure to match the colors exactly including the color of the stripe (i.e. white to white, black to black, orange with white stripe to orange with white stripe) To connect the wires the best way is to strip, splice, and solder the wires. A soldering iron and solder is required. Some solder has lead in it, so avoid breathing in the fumes when you solder.

  1. 9

Connect the completed harness to the factory harness and make sure it is securely connected.

  1. 10

Put the new car radio head unit into the dash. Connect wiring harness you prepared and the antenna. Make sure after your connect the wiring that the radio works properly so that you can find any wiring or radio problems before you reassemble everything.

  1. 11

Reassemble the dashboard making sure everything is plugged back in and none of the connections are loose or could fall out.

  1. 12

Reconnect the negative battery terminal and enjoy your new audio system.

Tips Edit

  • Make sure you have all the tools for the job before you start.
  • After installing your new radio, you may be able to recoup some of the cost of the new radio by selling your original factory radio. Online auction sites, such as eBay, are great places to sell these items. Factory radios are sometimes able to bring in over $100 or more.
  • Be sure to disconnect the negative battery terminal before installation.
  • Wiring diagrams are very useful when wiring the harness. Websites like provide useful charts with wire color and signal information.
  • Car repair manuals are required for proper radio removal.
  • Work with an experienced buddy to make things go faster and more smoothly.

Warnings Edit

  • Any wiring not taped properly or left uninsulated could short, causing failure of your unit or possibly fire.

Things You'll Need Edit

  • Socket set
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Electrical tape
  • Screwdrivers
  • Dashboard installation kit
  • Antenna adapter(not always needed)
  • Wiring harness adapter (specific to every car)
  • Door chimes module (not always needed)
  • Din tool (not always needed)
  • New Radio

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