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How To Wire A Car Stereo From Scratch

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Connecting Wire Using The Twist

How to wire up your radio from scratch

Although its easy to do and cheap , its the least reliable way to connect speaker or car stereo wires together. In my experience, the tape can come off later or the twisted wire may work its way loose at some point.

Its as easy to do as:

  • Strip about 1/2 inch insulation from the end of each wire
  • Twist the bare wire together as tightly as possible, wrapping around each other to help hold them together
  • Tear off some electrical tape and tightly wind it around the exposed wire and also the wire insulation
  • Car Stereo Wire Colors Codes

    It is very important to have proper and full awareness about wire colors .each color plays a role of code. With the color of the wire, you can identify the function of each wire.

    Here is a chart by which you will be better able to understand the function of car stereo wires with reference to the color.

    Wire color

    Wiring A Car Stereo With No Harnesses At All

    If your head unit doesn’t have a harness and someone cut the harness out of your car, you’ll have to do a combination of the above methods.

    The first step is to obtain a pinout for your head unit and fabricate a new harness. After that, identify all the wires in the dash to determine which ones are for the speakers, power, ground, and so on.

    Since there is no factory harness in the picture, you have two options to consider. You can either fashion a new harness for the factory wires that will plug into your head unit harness or solder your head unit harness directly to the factory wires.

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    Labor Costs To Install A Car Stereo

    While installing a new stereo can be easy, it can be a headache, especially if you don’t know what your doing! To avoid this, a lot of newbies out there elect to go to a licensed professional. If you have enough to spare after buying that new audio system, you could opt to hire a professional to do it for you.

    In most cases, the cost of a car stereo installation could range anywhere from free-of-charge to $300 if theyre installing a more complex system. Standard installations, however, will range from $40 to $80.

    Many companies offer a complete car audio system package. Car Stereo City offers the package at $400 to $500, including the system and labor.

    Audio Express offers the following rates for their installation of a car audio system:

    • A head unit installation can cost you $50 up to $70 if you want to install one with Bluetooth.
    • A standard In-Dash DVD installation will cost $90.
    • A speaker installation will cost $75 up to $140 for audio systems that have a more complex wiring system.
    • An amplifier installation can vary depending on the number of channels in your stereo. A system with 1 or 2 channels will cost you $100, $120 for 4 channel system, and $140 for 5 to 6 channels.

    Audio Express offers an hourly rate of $85 and $45 for every half-hour increment.

    No matter your budget, always be aware of what youre buying and paying to make sure that you dont overspend.

    Installing Your New Stereo

    How To Install A Car Radio From Scratch
  • 1Test the stereo. Before you install the stereo in the center console of your vehicle, reconnect the battery and turn the car on to make sure it is functioning properly. With the stereo completely connected, turn it on and try a few functions. Make sure all speakers in your vehicle are working and that CDs or your MP3 player play properly. If you have been able to connect the antennae cable already, check to make sure the radio works.
  • Checking the stereos functions now will prevent you from having to take the console apart again to address any issues with the wiring.
  • If something does not work properly, review the connections with the wiring diagrams that you have to make sure all of the wires are connected to their corresponding match.
  • Remove the keys and disconnect the battery again after youve tested the stereo.
  • 2Tuck all of the wiring into the dashboard. You may have noticed that most of the wires you connected to your stereo allowed for quite a bit of slack. Take the connected car stereo in one hand and use the other to tuck all of the extra wire back into the dashboard as you set the stereo in its opening. If you have not been able to connect the large antennae cable yet because it was too short, connect it now as you sit the stereo in its place.XResearch source
  • Be careful not to pull any wires out of the back of the stereo as you tuck them back into the dash board.
  • Try not to let the wiring get in the way of the bracket you will need to bolt the stereo too .
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    Wiring Up Stereo From Scratch

    • Please log in to reply
    • Location: Birmingham

    Posted 02 January 2013 – 12:09 AM

    • Local Club: Not yet!

    Posted 02 January 2013 – 12:42 AM

    1st Step2nd Step3rd Step4th Step5th Step6th Step

    Edited by mattdc2r, 02 January 2013 – 12:43 AM.

    • Location: Bromsgrove

    Hey guys, when searching for how to wire a Stereo into my 1993 Austin Mini from scratch I couldn’t find any visual information. The descriptions on this thread are great but sometimes you need visuals to get your head around it. I have translated the above description into a wiring diagram for a basic 2 rear speaker system. I am also planning to install the Stereo over the weekend so will try and remember to take photos when doing it to add to this post for anyone who is trying to figure it out in future. Let me know what you think/if it is helpful/if it is wrong or anything you would do different and I can update it to suit.

    Remove Your Factory Stereo And Install A New One

    Eating up the highway with clarity and volume a champion of car audio.

    During my first few years at Crutchfield, I served as one of our Advisors, helping our customers choose new audio components for their homes and cars. Eventually, I moved to the writing team and spent a decade researching new products and getting even more hands-on with car audio gear.

    I’ve performed many car and home audio installations over the years, some of them even on my own cars. As the editor of Crutchfield’s car audio web articles, I couldn’t ask for a cooler job. We listen to music and play with car audio gear every day!

    Like most of us here, I’ve always been into music. I installed my first car stereo system before the family car was even mine. In college, I helped friends and roommates install their car stereos and set up the stereos in their apartments. I was a volunteer DJ for the local community radio station for a few years . That’s where I also first learned a little bit about sound mixers.

    These days, I serve my community by volunteering with the Boys Scouts of America. I also love playing board games & RPGs, spending time with my family, and installing new audio systems for my friends.

    More about Robert

    More from Robert Ferency-Viars

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    What Gauge Wire Is Used For Car Stereo Harness

    Wire gauge, by its typical definition, is the measurement of a wires diameter. The size of the diameter will determine the amount of current that the wire can safely carry. The wire gauge will also determine the electrical resistance of the wire itself .

    Typically the car stereo will have wires with a wire gauge between 14awg and 18awg.

    The power lead will have the thickest gauge , and the rest of the harness wire will be thinner, typically between 16awg and 18awg.

    Testing Of Car Stereo

    Wiring a car from scratch part 1

    Once you have made the connections and secure them properly, first reconnect you are your battery and then reinstall your car stereo. Once you reconnect your car battery, turn on the car, and check if it is working properly. If the car is working properly, install car stereo .check one by one car speakers, cd players, and your radio.

    If something is not working properly then it means that your wires are not connected properly. Review the wires connections and make sure all the wires are connected properly and if not, then disconnect the battery and reconnect the wires and again repeat the same above procedure.

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    Can You Use A Wall Adapter For A Car Stereo

    While you can use a wall adapter to power a car radio with decent results, most are pretty poor and cant supply many amps and only a little bit of power. Youll also need to cut the wiring which in some cases can be a little tricky since its sometimes very small wire.

    Technically, you can use a wall outlet AC-DC 12V adapter, but I dont recommend it.

    Theyre pretty limited in power output and the amperage they can provide . Theyre designed to do things like charge devices or supply low-power devices.

    They also dont have good reserve power and when you start cranking up your car radio the voltage may begin to sag and it wont work well along with the sound breaking up & distorting. Youll need to find one with enough current and cut the wiring since most come with a connector attached.

    Caution! When using a AC/DC wall adapter, be careful because for some it can be hard to tell which wire is positive and which is negative.

    Always be 100% sure before connecting a radio to avoid a reverse polarity condition as that can damage electronics!

    Replace The Receiver Aka Head Unit

    You should know that most mediocre quality audio in cars are related to poor stereo receivers. In general, the best car stereo system often starts with a good receiver or head unit. An excellent receiver delivers cleaner and stronger audio signals to the amplifier, subwoofer, and speakers of your car. Replacing the stereo receiver is often one of the best ways to improve the overall quality of music in your car. You may have the best subwoofer or even the most powerful amplifier but if you dont upgrade your receiver, youll still end up with mediocre quality sound.

    The first thing you will need to do is to identify what things your current receiver can and cannot do.

    Conventional car stereos only play music either through a built-in CD player and an AM/FM radio tuner. Modern cars already come fully equipped with the latest in car audio. The question now is if you would also want your receiver to do the same.

    Do you need a receiver that can serve as a bridge to your smartphone or even Bluetooth-enabled laptops, enabling you to make calls and even stream your favorite music channel as well as work inside your car ? How about HD radio broadcasts or even those stations that play via satellite?

    Identifying what you want your stereo receiver to do should help you improve the way you listen to music and other sounds in your car. You can easily purchase the most ideal receiver for your car sound system if you can determine what exactly youre looking for.

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    Place The Wires Harness Into The Dashboard

    Once you are sure that all the connections are correct and are working properly then the next step is putting all the extra wires into the dashboard. Wait have you connect the car stereo antenna wire? If yet you did not connect the antenna wire then connect it.

    The antenna wire is a small wire .once you put all the wires in the dashboard, never pull any wire from the backside of the car stereo.

    Check For The Dimmer And Accessory Wires

    How to Wire a Car Stereo: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

    After you mark the 12V wire and set it aside, turn on the ignition switch, turn on the headlights, and turn up the dimmer switch, if equipped, all the way. If you find two more wires that show approximately 12V, turn the dimmer switch down and check again.

    • The wire that shows less than 12V at that point is the dimmer/illumination wire. It’s typically orange or orange with a white stripe.
    • The wire that still shows 12V is the accessory wire, which is usually red in aftermarket wiring harnesses. If only one wire ever had power in this step, it is the accessory wire.

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    Installation Of The Rim

    This is the last step reinstall each piece of the plastic clips in exactly the reverse order you removed .do this carefully to avoid any breakage of the plastic parts. While reinstalling the rim, make sure you are doing this in exactly the reverse order you remove them. First install the last piece you removed first, check if overlapped pieces layered properly.

    If some plastic part has been broken from the trim, try to secure them by the use of hot glue .here is a drawback of using the hot glue .by the use of hot glue, the plastic parts will get fixed and it becomes difficult to remove them in future.

    If an entire piece of the rim has been broken completely, then the last option is to buy a new one from the market.

    Basic Types Of Car Radio Systems That Youll Encounter

    Basically two types of car radio systems:

    1. Factory car radio

    These are made and designed together with the car making it a perfect match, be it a classical car stereo system or a modern infotainment one. Came with the car from the factory.

    2. Aftermarket car stereo and infotainment systems

    Built-in afterward for various reasons .

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    How To Splice Car Audio Wires

    The first and most important factor we will have to grasp is understanding how to splice .

    This is going to be the majority of the work in building a car stereo harness. Hence we have to understand the correct and incorrect ways to splice wires.

    The preferred method of removing the insulation shield is using wire strippers because they are specifically designed only to remove the wires insulation shield and not damage the internal wiring.

    If you use scissors of any kind, you will most likely damage or remove some of the wire.

    The best method of connecting wires together is to solder them. Many people often crimp wires together using a terminal, but that method is also subject to wear and tear and can eventually lead to faults.

    Heat Shrink is by far much more effective than electrical tape and is far more robust, withstanding a lot more punishment than electrical tape can handle.

    Check out the video below, where you will see how to splice and connect car audio wire.

    S On How To Install Your Own Car Stereo

    DIY-How To Build Speakers From Scratch! (PAM8403) Wiring & Testing

    After the seemingly arduous task of looking for and buying a new replacement for your cars audio system, you now have the monumental task of installing it. But before doing so, you must first disconnect your cars battery before working on it. Not doing so could result in a blown fuse and that can be time-consuming and nevertheless frustrating. Plus you’ll find that a major mishap can be a real shock! .

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    How To Install Car Radio Without Wiring Harness

    As mentioned, most car electric installations have a built-in wiring harness for connecting the car radio.

    But because of various situations , the wire harness may be missing.

    Youll find yourself in a situation where you simply dont have a plug for the car radio.

    But there is a solution to this:

    • If you have a radio with a standard slot for a wiring harness connector, go to your local car parts shop and buy a new wire harness connector that fits.

    Your task will be to connect the harness to the car installation making a plug-in connection of your own

    • If you have a radio without a wire harness connection , directly connect the radio wires to the car installation .

    Mostly, when you buy a new car radio it will have included the wiring harness connector, with used ones youre probably going to have to visit the car parts shop.

    So, once youve solved the missing wiring harness connector problem, youre good to go on connecting it to the car installation.

    To resume on this part: youre connecting the wire harness connector to the installation, not the car radio. Imagine this as installing an electric plug on a home appliance. Simple as that.

    The car radio is plugged in afterward.

    Before you start, have in mind that the car installation should have all of the needed elements .

    Your job is to merge that installation with the new wiring harness connector.

    The color of the wires is standardized on most cars so this should also help you.

    Heres the procedure:


    How To Wire A Computer Power Supply To A Car Stereo

    Using an ATX power supply for a car stereo isnt hard in fact, you only need a few steps:

    • Power connections: Cut a +12V wire and a ground wire from the main connector. Strip the insulation to leave about 3/8 to 1/2 bare wire. Use a crimp connector, solder, or another connector type to join the power supplys +12V output to the radios +12V battery wire . Do the same for the ground wires .
    • Supply on control: PC supplies dont turn on even if the on/off switch on the case is used. A PC motherboard uses a control signal to the supply on wire pin. To do the same, youll need to find, cut, and jumper this control signal wire to a ground wire either directly or with an on/off switch if you like
    • Radio accessory wire: Connect the radios accessory/on wire to the +12V power wire from the supply either directly or you can use an on/off switch if you like.

    Once youve connected the +12V and ground wiring to the radio, connect the supply on wire shown above to another ground wire as shown. The supply should start and your car radio should turn on.

    As I mentioned earlier, switching off the power supply will cause the radio to lose its memory so you may find it easier to use an on/off switch on the accessory wire or turn the radio on & off using the power button.

    Dont forget that a radio uses only a tiny bit of power when turned off so you can leave your power supply running if you like.

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