Do It Yourself – Stereo Head Unit Installation

This section is for people wanting to change the head unit in the dash of their car or truck. Your factory head unit may be worn out or you just want updated features and better sound quality.

Check for availability of the dash kits first

Is the head unit you want going to fit with dash kits available? Single DIN or Double DIN?

Most important is to procure all the right parts. Sometimes this means pulling out the factory radio and inspecting its connectors. There are running changes in some model cars that might have a variation from the part that is listed as being correct. Example would be a year model change. You might have the the first model car of the change in production, and have previous years harness or dash trim. GM calls some of their cars like this “classic”.

Is a simple wiring harness adapter going to take care of the wiring solution?

NOT Always. A lot of cars today have factory installed amplifiers and getting them to interface with aftermarket heads is more involved than one might think. We recommend trying to keep the factory amp installed if possible. That way, its easier to reinstall the factory radio later on.

You may need a data retention module to replace the computer chip that was inside the factory radio that communicates with the cars computer. These will help turn on that factory amp that keep the car data correct. The data retention modules usually have a wiring adapter with them.

Are there differences in car antenna systems?

Yes, adapters are required for most cars. Some antenna systems from the factory are amplified and need to be switched on even if the mast is not motorized.

Can I make the factory steering wheel controls work with my new aftermarket head unit?

Yes, but you need make sure that the head unit you are purchasing has the input for that signal and you will need the proper SWI module. Installing one of these is not always plug and play, some reading and programing need done. This is a totally optional feature. You do not have to add this.

Does satellite radio use my factory antenna?

In most cases NO. you must install the provided satellite radio antenna. Should be install on the roof or trunk lid. You want that antenna to be able see to south as much as possible.

Now that you’ve collected all the parts you can really start installing! first thing this getting out that factory radio (unless you already did). Remember how it comes apart some are easy and others not so easy. We use plastic pry bars for those heavy duty clips that hold many bezels on today. There is usually some hidden screws somewhere.
Fortunately most of the kits we sell have some directions included to help.

Now that the factory radio is out you can see how the new kit will fit. Pay attention to mounting tabs on the factory radio. Some Asian imports will have some type of bracketing on the factory radio that can be used. Take the time to set up the mounting solution correctly. It will help head unit line up and look good.

Now you can connect the wires out of the adapters or data retention module to the aftermarket head unit. Since EIA standardized the colors of on aftermarket radios and harness adapters the colors will match up. Crimp caps or solder and heat shrink will do. Now plug in the harness and test your new radio.

Once you have tested the unit, finish installing radio and kit and reassemble dash as needed.

A word on proper wire connections….. simply twisting the wires together with some black on them is not going to fly long term. Use the proper crimp tool with crimp caps or butt connectors. When you use solder and heat shrink its great but is time consuming and of course you have to own a solder iron,solder, and heat shrink.