How to Wire a Car Stereo from the scratch

Getting a new stereo is a nice way to have a new breath of life in your car dash. Adding an MP3 or CD enabled stereo gives you the chance to listen to music in a way that suits your ears while on the go.

Having to do the installation can be very daunting especially when you don’t have a guide handy.

How to wire a car stereo from the scratch
Photo Credit: Jackson David,

This guide will answer all the questions you find confusing and put you through the steps you need to take in wiring your car stereo from scratch.

You need to note that all stereo models come with their peculiarities so before you get started you might have to research a bit on the stereo involve.

Tools Needed in Wiring a Stereo

Before you commence with the wiring, there are tools you need to have for the job, and you need to assemble them beforehand. There is always a good tool for every job regardless of your status; Professional, installer, student or you are just doing it for the time.

The following tools are very important during wiring of stereo and having them saves you a lot of time and energy.

  • Crimpers
  • Digital multimeter
  • Soldering iron or the butt connector
  • Wire strippers
  • Speaker tester
  • Measuring tape that helps in wire management

Wiring the New Stereo

Buying a wiring adaptor. The new stereo comes with an illustrative diagram that indicates what the individual wires need to connect but this is simpler when you use a clip adaptor of the wiring harness.

The adaptors are usually configured to make it simpler to connect the new stereo to the existing clip of the car.

You have to make use of the diagram accompanying the stereo and the diagram that comes with the clip so you can easily connect the wires to the new adaptor.

You can place an order for adaptors online, auto parts or electronics stores. You will notice that if you use an adaptor, it will drastically reduce any chance of making a mistake wiring.

Identify the Loose Wiring and Connect them

In the event that you don’t use the clip adaptor of the wiring harness, you have to properly identify the wire that comes from the stereo and the one that comes from the car.

If you don’t use an adaptor, you need to cut the cable at the back of the harness clip of the car. However, do this one at a time when connecting it to the appropriate stereo wire to avoid confusion.

Use your car repair guide or search online for a wiring scheme for your car to assist you in identifying each wire. Almost all vehicle stereos require these connections:

  • The main power wire from the stereo is red and is likely to connect to a similar red wire coming from the car.
  • The main ground wire used for the audio is black in color and the same goes to its corresponding cable from the vehicle. If there are no ground wires, then you can safeguard the ground wire to the ordinary metal in the car body to serve ground purposes.
  • 12volt power cable is yellow or blue although it can be different colors emerging from the vehicle.
  • The wire of the antenna is usually thicker when put in a metal head and is connected individually before the stereo is installed.

Connecting Output Converter

Some cars need the output converter to function properly with other components of the car which are uncommon in the industry. Some manufacturers always use external amps that the stereo signal compensates.

The stereo might have arrived with the output convertor and it’s likely that you have to order it from a reliable electronics or auto part store. Make sure you order a good output converter configured specifically for the year, model and make that suits your car.

Secure all Wires

After all the wires have been connected to the corresponding wires from the car, you must make these connections permanent. There are different ways to permanently connect two cables.

While some are more durable than others, most are well suited for car radio applications. Make sure that no bare metal is visible on the cable connection by wrapping it with electrical tape or shrinking wrap.

  • To solder two wires, you will need solder and a soldering iron. You will melt the solder on the cable to glue them together, and when the solder cools, it will form a permanent bond.
  • For car radios, simply twisting the cable and covering it with shrinking film or insulating tape will be enough.
  • You can buy a connector that only pushes the two cables together and fasten them with pliers or turn them together using your fingers.

Video: How to wire a car stereo from the scratch

This video explains how you can wire a car stereo from scratch.

How Can You Test Stereo Wires for the Right Connections?

Continuous Wire: This conductor comes continuously with 12 volts. First, turn off the ignition for the test. Connect the black wire. Take the probe from the red meter and connect it with a permanent yellow wire. The constant cable provides measured values ​​up to 12 volts with a difference of ± 0.5.

Ground Wire: Now that you have identified a permanent conductor, you can now identify the ground wire. The ground conductor is linked to the black cable after proper testing.

You have 2 color meter probes to measure black and red, first you have to install a red probe with a permanent cable and a black probe with a cable that is being tested. Check meter reading. If this coincides with constant cable testing, be sure to check the ground cable.

Additional Power: When you turn off the ignition, this cable shows zero volts per meter. When you turn on the ignition, a value of 12 volts ± 0.5 volts is displayed

Speaker Cable: A multimeter and 9-volt battery is required to test your speaker cable before testing a digital multimeter for durability.

Test your Stereo. Before installing the stereo in the center console of your vehicle, reconnect the battery and start the car to make sure it is functioning properly.

Turn on the stereo and try some functions. Make sure all the speakers in your car are functioning and your CD or MP3 player is playing correctly. If you have connected the antenna cable, check that the radio works.

  • By checking the stereo function, you can no longer divide the console to correct cable problems.
  • If something is not working properly, check the connections again using the cable diagram to make sure that all cables are connected to their respective pairs.
  • Remove the button and turn off the battery after testing the stereo.

Plug all Cables into the Control Panel

You might have observed that most of the cables that you have connected to your stereo allow for significant slack. Take the stereo connected in one hand and use the other to pull the entire additional cable back to the control panel when you set the stereo system to open.

If you cannot connect a large antenna cable because it is too short, connect it now while sitting on the stereo instead.

  • Be careful not to pull the cable on the back of the stereo when returning it to the dashboard.
  • Don’t let the cable interfere with the bracket you need to tighten and stereo (if your stereo needs to be tightened).
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Slide the stereo back into position

Gently slide the radio back into the slot on the center console of the vehicle, taking care not to press too hard on your face. If you encounter obstacles, don’t force the stereo system again. Instead, detach the stereo and identify the blocking item, move and slide the radio again.

If you push the stereo into place, the cable may become clogged or a plastic clip can snap into place. Forcing a stereo along a sled can cause interference and cause the stereo to malfunction or fail to fit into the vehicle.

Some vehicles require an adaptor to install a new stereo in the opening for the old one. This adaptor can be ordered from auto parts and electronics stores.

Safeguard the new stereo. If the stereo uses a spring clip, click when it locks into place and you don’t need to take additional action to safeguard the stereo.

If your stereo uses screws and brackets, reuse screws that you removed earlier to safeguard the new stereo in the same place. If you have to use an adapter to put a stereo in the room on the console, make sure the stereo is attached to the adapter and the adapter to the car.

  • If you use screws, make sure the screws are tightened before you replace the panel.
  • Then try swinging the stereo. It should not move with the right restraints.

Replace the Panel

Take care not to damage the plastic clips that hold the pads in place and replace each part in the reverse order that you removed. This means that you have to install the last item, then to the second and finally to the last, etc. This ensures that overlapping parts are coated correctly.

If you divide the clip and the trim does not stay in place, you can attach the clipped part to the car with a hot glue gun. However, keep in mind that it will be difficult to delete it in the future.

If you divide the trim, you may need to order a special replacement from the dealer, because most auto parts dealers do not have coating components.

These steps will certainly be of help to you. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

You can also check the best stereo for your car here.