How to install a car radio (with pictures)

How to install a car radio (with pictures)
How to install a car radio (with pictures)

Replacing or installing a car radio is a very simple operation to perform. This is the subject of this article. Here we give you general advice on removal and installation, it being understood that some models of car radios take a little longer to install. In case of difficulty, we refer you to the assembly instructions for the device you have purchased.


Part 1 of 3: disassemble the old car stereo

Install a Car Stereo Step 1

Step 1. Check that the handbrake is tight and disconnect the negative (black) battery cable

This will prevent a possible short circuit during installation.

For more details on disconnecting the battery, read the article "How to disconnect a car battery"

Install a Car Stereo Step 2

Step 2. Undo all the screws that hold the console in place

If the console does not come, do not force: there must surely be a screw in place.

Install a Car Stereo Step 3

Step 3. Remove the console

Sometimes there are secondary parts that hold the whole thing in place. Usually you have to lift them.

  • It often happens that you have to remove buttons or lockers in order to remove the console.
  • Most often, these elements are removed by hand or using a small lever. Never force!
Install a Car Stereo Step 4

Step 4. Remove some items if necessary

If there are any items that make it difficult to remove the car radio, do so by remembering where and how these items are attached.

If these items are plugged in, unplug them. Before proceeding with this step, take a photograph of the wiring so that you can reassemble it

Install a Car Stereo Step 5

Step 5. Uncouple the car radio

Difficult to advise you as the fixing methods vary from one model to another.

  • If it is held by screws or small bolts, use the appropriate tool (flat or Phillips screwdriver, wrench). Do not use force, otherwise you will damage them!
  • Some car radios do not have screws or bolts on the front, because they are recessed. To take them out, use two identical extraction keys. They are small, fairly flat metal tools that usually have a rounded shape on one side and a notch on the other. Check with an auto supply dealer, he will be of good advice.
  • You insert one of the extraction keys in the left side space between the car radio and its box. Do the same on the right. Each time you will hear a “click”, the locking mechanism is then released. After that, all that remains is to pull the car radio out of its housing.
Install a Car Stereo Step 6

Step 6. Pull the car stereo out of its housing

Sometimes needle-nose pliers are needed to grab the device from the side. It must come effortlessly. If it does not come out, it is because it is prevented from doing so by an element in place.

Install a Car Stereo Step 7

Step 7. Take photographs of the wiring from different angles

You should clearly see the different colors of cables. These photos will allow you to easily and error-free your connection.

Install a Car Stereo Step 8

Step 8. Disconnect all cables

Usually there are one or two harnesses that just need to be unplugged, sometimes there may be an insulated wire. You must unplug everything to take out the car radio.

  • First, remove the antenna cable. It is quite easy to recognize, because it is bigger than the others (sort of "jack"). Once the antenna has been disconnected, you will be able to clear the car radio better, without however being able to take it out entirely.
  • Next, detach the electrical harness (s). To avoid having a lot of wires to undo, manufacturers have gathered all the small wires into a bundle that pulls out in one block. Depending on the model, the beam is held in place by a locking latch that is released by pressing on it. Sometimes it's a little button that you have to push in.

Part 2 of 3: install the new car stereo

Install a Car Stereo Step 9

Step 1. Match the wires

Connect the harness (s) of the car with that (those) of the car radio. The car harness connector is male, while the car radio connector is female. They must fit together perfectly.

  • To be sure of your wiring, compare the electrical graphics of the car and the radio.
  • If there is no harness, you must reassemble each of the wires in the correct order. Each thread has a color which corresponds to a feature. The principle of connection is simple: the red wire of the car must go with the red wire of the car radio, black with black, etc.
  • Connect the wires correctly. There are two ways to do this: crimping or soldering. Crimping is undoubtedly easier and faster to do, provided you use the right pliers. The advantage of soldering is that you have a very strong junction. We do not recommend securing them with adhesive tape - it will lose its qualities over time and the threads will "wander" all over the place. Instead, use a plastic hose clamp.
Install a Car Stereo Step 10

Step 2. Assemble the different parts of the car radio, if it is delivered as a kit

Strictly follow the assembly instructions supplied with the device (most often, it is a metal box that must be fitted into the console).

Push the box into its housing by pressing, using a flat screwdriver, on the retractable clips (located on the box)

Install a Car Stereo Step 11

Step 3. Plug in the power cord

If you have a harness, you don't have to do anything special, since one of the wires is the power wire.

If there is no harness, you must therefore supply your car radio with electricity using a specific wire. In general, if your car delivers alternating current (AC - which is rare) the wire is red, if it is direct current (DC) it is yellow. For more details on AC or DC, see this file

Install a Car Stereo Step 12

Step 4. Ground your car stereo

If you have a harness, you don't have to do anything special, since one of the wires is the ground wire.

  • If there is no harness, you need to follow the ground wire (black) which is attached to a bare metal part of the chassis. At this point, you will find either a screw or a bolt that holds the ground wire. Loosen the screw to release the old wire, then wind the new one under the washer and tighten everything.
  • Grounding is fundamental for good sound quality. It is this which prevents interference which results in crackling when listening.
Install a Car Stereo Step 13

Step 5. Connect the other wires

Reconnect the antenna cable, plug in the male (car) and female (car radio) harnesses in the correct direction. If necessary, connect a converter so that the sound from your new car stereo can be output to the existing speakers.

Install a Car Stereo Step 14

Step 6. Take a test

Don't forget to reconnect the battery! Turn on your car stereo and test the AM, FM bands, as well as the CD player. See if the balance is well on the different speakers, if all the settings (bass, treble…) are those desired. If all goes well, great! Switch off your car radio to complete the assembly.

Part 3 of 3: reassemble the car radio console

Install a Car Stereo Step 15

Step 1. Insert the car radio into its slot

You should hear a "click" which will let you know that it is well engaged.

Install a Car Stereo Step 16

Step 2. Reconnect the items you had to undo

Replace and tighten the fixture screws. Reconnect the items you have undone and replace the knobs and other trim.

Install a Car Stereo Step 17

Step 3. Snap the front of the console into place as it originally was

Check that the car radio is still working, that all screws are in place, that nothing moves or is askew.

Install a Car Stereo Step 18

Step 4. Turn on your brand new car stereo

Switch on the ignition and check that your device is operating correctly (volume, balance, CD ejection, etc.)


  • Before buying, please make sure your new car stereo fits well in your dashboard. The safest way is to ask in store if this or that model fits on this or that vehicle. Here you will find valuable advice on how to choose a car radio.
  • Some dealers offer to assemble your car radio for free or at a low cost on the condition that you buy it from them. Do not hesitate to ask !
  • If you don't want to lose the car stereo mounting screws and bolts, put them, for example, in the car's cup holder or in a box that closes.
  • If the harnesses (car and car stereo) do not match completely, be aware that there are adapters available at any good automotive supply store.


  • In any case, follow the instructions given in the assembly instructions for your new car radio to the letter. If this article gives you the outline of disassembly and assembly, there may be some additional instructions.
  • If you are not very handy or very patient, leave this task to a specialist - this will prevent damage to your car stereo or vehicle or worse, injure yourself.

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