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How to connect the car radio in the car with your own hands? (photo - video instruction)

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In the article we will tell you how to replace the head unit on any car, step by step instructions.

Installing a new head unit is one of the easiest updates that you can make for your car, even a beginner can handle it. The new stereo can improve car audio performance, give you access to all the HD radio channels in your area, or even add a satellite receiver, DVD player, or a host of other fun options.

What you need to replace the head unit

Before you begin, it is important to make sure that you have bought the right new head unit and that you have the necessary tools at hand.

The most important factor is that you need to buy a car radio of the right size. That is why it is so important to understand the difference between a single DIN, a double DIN and a half DIN.

If you make sure that your new car radio has the necessary functions and that it really fits your car, then in the future you will avoid many headaches.

In terms of the tools you will need to do this job, here are the most important ones:

  • Screwdriver
  • Mount
  • Wiring harness adapter.
  • Soldering iron or crimp tool and soldered or crimp connectors if you do not have a harness adapter.

The specific tools required to install the car radio may vary depending on the car, so do it slowly. If something is stuck, you may need another tool. Never press anything, otherwise you may break the expensive trim or mounting bracket.

Each car needs its own radio

In most cases, you will find that the fasteners holding the car radio are hidden. This is understandable because the visible screws and bolts are not very attractive.

This means that the first step when replacing a car radio is to find all the screws, bolts or other fasteners that hold the head unit in place.

In most cases, you will need to remove some kind of decorative part or trim to gain access to the fasteners. These scraps sometimes fall out, but many of them have hidden screws behind an ashtray, switches or plugs.

After you unscrew all the screws, you can insert a screwdriver and try to remove the finishing part.

Never push on the nozzle, front panel or other plastic elements. If it seems that the component is attached to something, then probably it is. Carefully inspect the area where it is attached, and you are likely to find a screw, bolt, or other hardware.

Some receivers are held by other methods. Ford Head Unit sometimes held by internal locks, which can only be released with a special tool.

Carefully remove the head unit

After you have successfully unfastened all the fasteners holding the cover plate or front panel, it should loosen.

In some cases, you may need to turn off the various switches, and it is extremely important not to pull out the wires.

Some cars also have climate control, which is connected to rods, vacuum lines and other components. If you damage these components by pulling too much, heating, ventilation and air conditioning may not work properly when you assemble everything.

After you have disconnected all the switches, you can pull out the cover plate or front panel.

Unscrew the car stereo

With the exposed head mounts, it's time to actually remove the radio from the dashboard.

Some head units of the original equipment are held in place by screws, but others use bolts, Torx fasteners, or a proprietary fastening method.

In this car, pictured above, the stereo is held by four screws, so the next step is to loosen them, and then carefully pull the head unit out of the dashboard.

Unscrew all extra brackets

Factory car radios are often held in place by carefully thought-out brackets, and you may need them when installing a new radio.

In the car pictured above, the factory stereo is connected to a large bracket that includes a storage pocket. The bracket and space in the dashboard can hold a much larger head.

Since we are replacing one DIN head unit with a new one DIN head unit, we will reuse this bracket. If we installed a larger head unit, we would have removed the pocket and, possibly, did not use the bracket at all.

If your car has such an arm, you need to determine if your new head unit needs it. You may be able to install a dual-DIN head, or you will find that you have one of the few cars designed for a 1.5-DIN head.

Install universal mounting clamps if necessary.

Most secondary stereo systems come with a universal collar that will work in a wide variety of applications. These clamps can often be installed without additional mounting hardware because they have metal tabs that can be bent to grab the sides of the dashboard jacks.

In this case, the single DIN collar is too small to fit directly into the dashboard, and it also does not fit into the existing bracket. This means that we will not use it. Instead, we simply screw the new head unit into the existing bracket.

Please note that existing screws may not be the right size, so you might have to go to a hardware store.

Car stereo wiring options, check connectors

The easiest way to install a new car radio is to use a spare head unit that is compatible with your existing plug in the wiring harness. This limits the number of head units you can use.

In the car above, the plug and connector are clearly not the same. There are several different ways to deal with this situation.

The easiest way is to buy an adapter harness. If you find a harness specifically designed for your head unit and car, you can just plug it in and get started. You can also find a harness that can be tied to the pigtail supplied with your new head unit.

Another option is to cut off the harness that was connected to your factory radio and connect the pigtail directly to it. If you decide to go this route, you can use crimp connectors or solder.

Solder or crimp the wires

The fastest way to connect the pigtail to the harness using crimp connectors. You simply remove the two wires, insert them into the connector and then crimp it.

At this point, it is important to connect each wire correctly. Some headunits of the original equipment have printed wiring diagrams, but you may need to find them to be sure.

Each wire has its own speaker wire color system. In some cases, each speaker will be represented in one color, and one of the wires will have a black indicator. In other cases, each pair of wires will have different shades of the same color. Car radios use a fairly standard set of wired colors.

If you cannot find the wiring diagram, you can use a test lamp to determine the ground and power wires.

You can also identify the identity of each speaker wire with a 1.5V battery. You will need to touch the positive and negative terminals of the battery to different combinations of wires.

When you hear a small knock from one of the speakers, this means that you have found both wires that are connected to it.

Put everything back like that

After you connect a new car radio, you will need to carefully insert it into the dashboard and turn the ignition. Make sure the radio is working. If this does not happen, double check the wiring.

In most cases, to complete the work, it is enough to simply screw on a new head unit, put on the skin again and start a new stereo system.

Timerkaev Boris - 68-year-old doctor of physical and mathematical sciences, professor from Russia. He is the head of the Department of General Physics at the Kazan National Research Technical University named after A.N. TUPOLEV - KAI

The easiest option - the car has audio preparation.

Audio preparation - i.e. special connectors, an antenna are installed in the vehicle wiring and speakers are fixed in regular places. For many models, audio preparation is an option, and many owners abandon it in order to reduce the cost of the car when buying, but this should not be done, as the radio installers will ask for a lot more money.

With factory audio pre-installation, installation of the radio is limited to acquiring an adapter between the wiring connectors and your radio.

Adapters are freely sold in most stores selling radio tape recorders, but if you want to save them, you can order them on aliexpress.

Adapters look like this:

Features of installation of car radios

According to the installation method, modern car radios are of two types: built-in and stationary.

  1. Built-in car radios are usually equipped with a removable front panel or a special curtain - devices are simple, but effectively protecting the radio from theft.

  1. Stationary car radios, as a rule, are installed by car manufacturers on the assembly line. The original form and non-standard sizes save them from theft.

When installing a car radio with your own hands, the following features should be considered.

First of all, connect the radio tape recorder only in accordance with the instructions. Failure to comply with this rule may result in failure or even fire. In this case, you should not use the installation instructions for other car radios, since even one manufacturer may have different plugs and wire markings depending on the model.

Most radio tape recorders have a connection diagram on the top cover, and we give a typical connection diagram for a car radio below.

Secondly, you must remember that the wiring of most domestic cars since Soviet times is designed for the installation of radio tape recorders and radios with mechanical tuning, which can create additional inconvenience.

For example, in the "Lada" or "Samara", regardless of the position of the key in the ignition, the voltage to the power cable of the car radio is supplied continuously. But when you turn the key in the lock, the electric circuit opens for a split second, which is enough to erase all the settings from the radio's memory (if it is not non-volatile).

The process of installing and connecting a car radio

The installation process of car radios of different types and manufacturers is not much different from each other. To do this, a container without a radio is installed in a regular socket and fixed by bending outward the metal petals along its perimeter.

  • In modern cars, a special ISO standard connector is provided for connecting the car radio. All the connection in this case comes down to the fact that you will need to insert the connecting block of the car radio into the ISO response connector of your car.
  • In older cars, as well as in many domestic cars, the ISO connector is not provided for by design. To install the car radio in this case, you will have to purchase the appropriate connector and connect it yourself. Fortunately, the wires on these connectors are usually marked and labeled.

Let's move on to connecting the wires of the car radio to the ISO connector. Take a look at the connection diagram below. As you can see from the diagram, the left side of the ISO connector is responsible for powering and controlling the radio, and the right side is for connecting speakers to it.


Typical car radio connection scheme

The main step in connecting the car radio is connecting the power. It is at this stage that most mistakes are made.

The power to the car radio is connected via a separate fuse using a flexible stranded wire with a cross section of at least 3 mm 2. In most cases, it will be enough to use a 10 amp fuse, it will reliably protect the power circuit from emergency situations.

The radio is powered by three wires: yellow, red and black.

+ 12 V (yellow) - main power cord. The built-in amplifier is powered from it, and it also serves to save the settings of the car radio. This wire is connected directly through the fuse to the battery. It is desirable that the length of the wire from the battery to the fuse does not exceed 30 cm.

ACC (red) - control for turning on the car radio from the ignition switch. On many vehicles, the ignition locks are in the ACC position (accessories). When turning the key to the ACC position, power is supplied to the car radio, the heater and the cigarette lighter socket, but the car’s ignition system is de-energized.

GND (black) - connects to the negative terminal of the battery. But this is ideal. Due to the low power of the car radio, it is allowed to connect the black wire to the car body. First you need to ensure good contact with the body, cleaning the junction from dirt and oxides. You can also use contact grease to protect them from oxidation.

The yellow power cord may also be labeled as B +, BU, Batt.

It can be connected to the red ACC wire (bypassing the ignition switch) - this will allow you to listen to music without a key. But in this case, the radio tape recorder will constantly consume current, and with a long idle time of the machine (from several days to 2-3 weeks), you may have a battery.

The following wires are responsible for connecting acoustic speakers to the car radio:

  • Fl - front left
  • FR - front right
  • RL - rear left
  • Rr - rear right.

When connecting the speakers to the radio, be sure to observe the correct polarity, otherwise the sound will be of poor quality, since the acoustics in this case will work in antiphase.

For some car radios, the speaker leads are duplicated with separate “tulip” type connectors - it is advisable to use them if the speakers installed in the car have the same connectors.

To connect the speakers, it is advisable to use special acoustic wires. They often come with a radio.

And don’t try to connect any of the conclusions intended for connecting acoustics to the “mass” of the car - you will be guaranteed that the car radio will fail!

The remaining wires in the car radio are responsible for controlling additional functions and equipment.

ANT (white) - antenna control. Acts as a power source for the internal active antenna, or provides a control signal to turn on the automatic outdoor antenna.

ILL (ILLUMINATION) - is responsible for the illumination of the car radio. It is connected to the “plus” of the side light supply circuit.

Mute - Manages the mute from the car kit mobile phone. Sound is muted when this pin is connected to ground.

Parking line - found on most car DVD players. Connects to the parking brake sensor. With this connection, you can watch DVDs only when the car is on the “parking brake”.

After connecting the power wires, acoustics and antennas to the ISO connector, this entire bundle is pulled inside the container so that their ends with the connectors exit into the car interior to a length convenient for work (approximately, as shown in the photo at the beginning of the article), and connect to corresponding connectors on the rear of the radio.

After that, you need to turn on the car radio and listen. If everything works fine, then it can be inserted into the container until it stops (the latches on the sides should work).

When installing a car radio it’s useful

In the process of installing and connecting the radio in a car, unusual situations often arise that cannot be foreseen in any instruction.

So, if you use a standard car antenna when installing a car radio, sometimes the length of its wire may not be enough. Many cars are still equipped with antennas designed to install old-style radio tape recorders. They have an antenna socket located on the “tail” of only fifteen centimeters long.

In this case, you can try to connect the antenna blindly after connecting to the radio all the other wires. Если сделать этого не удастся, тогда, скорее всего, придется снимать консоль и втыкать штекер антенны на ощупь уже после установки автомагнитолы в контейнер.

Кстати, примерно после получаса такой "камасутры" вас, наверняка, начнут посещать мысли о покупке новой автомобильной антенны для радио.

If there is a need to remove the car radio with a removable front panel from the container, for this you will need to insert two flat keys on the sides of it until it stops, which are supplied with the radio. But before that, do not forget to remove the front control panel - it is usually disconnected with the “Release” button.

The second most difficult option is that the car does not have audio preparation, but a radio tape recorder (for example, cassette) was previously installed.

In this case, you need to replace the radio connection connector with the new one (or maybe you are lucky and they will coincide).

The circuit for connecting the car radio looks like this:

Most likely after you cut off the old radio connector (it is better to do this with the battery terminal removed). You will have several wires and you need to determine where they come from, usually you need to find a constant plus, plus from the ignition, ground and speakers.

How it's done?

- We expose the wires with the help of an office knife and place them so that they do not close.

- Put the terminal on the battery.

- One pin of the control lamp (or multimeter) is hooked to the car body (mass) and the second pin, in series, is touching each of the exposed wires. When the light comes on or the multimeter shows the voltage, congratulations, you have found a permanent plus.

- It is better to immediately twist it with the radio connector (usually a yellow wire and it says BAT + 12v on it) and insulate it with heat shrink or electrical tape. A fuse of 10-15 amperes must be installed on this wire.

- We are looking for a plus from the ignition, for this we open the lock to the position - “ignition is on” and similarly, with a multimeter or a light we are looking for the desired wire. The found wire must be connected to the red wire of the radio connector (ACC + is usually written on the wire) until it is isolated!

Note (sometimes this wire is connected with a constant plus, but in this case the radio will discharge the battery, since it will not have a standby mode)

- We are looking for weight, for this we disconnect the control lamp from the body and connect it to the last twist just made and sequentially connect the second control terminal (multimeter) with the remaining wires. As soon as the light comes on (or the multimeter shows the voltage), you have found the "mass". We connect it by twisting with the black wire of the radio connector (usually it is signed by gnd, ground)

- Isolate it and the plus from the ignition.

All you can connect the radio. If everything is done, right, she light up .... But you still need to connect the speakers and the antenna to the radio.

Connecting speakers.

You have 10 wires left. One of them is the antenna cable, one plus the antenna power and 8 wires from the speakers.

The wires from the speakers usually come in pairs, but their marking is not always correct. Therefore, we need a crown battery.

For 1-2 seconds, we hook it to a pair of wires and listen to which speaker clicks. Next, look at the speaker itself and reconnect the battery. If the speaker went forward, then the polarity is correct, and we fasten it + to + and - to -, in accordance with the scheme. If the speaker went inside, then the polarity is wrong and we connect it the other way around.

Here's a video on how to determine the polarity of the speaker:

It is very important to monitor the polarity, as otherwise the sound in the car will be of very poor quality!

Consistently check and connect all the speakers, front left. Rear left, rear right, front right.

Connecting an antenna is usually straightforward.

Here is a short video about connecting a car radio, but the red and yellow colors are mixed up on it (correctly written in the article):

The third most difficult option - the car radio is installed in the car without audio preparation for the first time.

Do not worry, the text here is much smaller since there is no need to determine the purpose of the wires. The complexity is higher since we will lay these wires!

The connection scheme does not change:

  • We draw a constant plus from the battery, be sure to use a fuse of 10-15 amperes, a wire of 2.5-4 squares!

There is an option to take a permanent plus from the cigarette lighter, but as practice has shown, usually the cigarette lighter is powered by a 1.5 square wire and has a 10 amp fuse. In my car, when I connected a pump for pumping wheels, and a working radio, this fuse burned out!

  • We are looking under the panel (for example, on the fuse box or on the ignition switch) a wire where a plus appears when the ignition is turned on, and accordingly, from there we pull the wire to the plus of the radio, which is responsible for turning on. You can hook this wire to a permanent plus, but the radio will suck out the battery!

  • Lay the mass wire and securely fasten it to the body (for example, to mount the panel to the body)

  • We install speakers in regular places and lay their wires, always observing the polarity!

  • We catch the antenna and its control wire.

The radio installation is complete, you just saved 1.5-3 tr

The most difficult option - the car radio is installed in a car with non-standard wiring (trucks and vintage cars).

Most car radios are powered by 12 volts. On most trucks, the voltage standard is applied - 24 volts, respectively, when connecting a 12 volt car radio to a 24 volt network, it will inevitably fail.

Therefore, they connect the car radio to one battery (the one that is attached to the car body with a minus) pulls the wire into the cab to the radio from its plus. Such a solution does exist, but it has a significant drawback - in 1–2 weeks of downtime, the battery will be drained and it will be impossible to start the engine without charging it!

To prevent this from happening, it is necessary to use a special voltage converter. It looks like this:

Usually they refuse the memory of the radio and hook the device like this:

As a result, the radio will not use the memory function, but it will not land the battery and, most importantly, you do not need to stretch a non-standard wire from the battery to the cab.

The converters themselves are sold in online stores, as an option, consider buying on aliexpress.

In the case of vintage cars, non-standard supply voltages (6 volts) or + on the car body are possible. The connection of the car radio in such cars is decided each time individually and has no general recommendations.

That's all for today. All smooth roads and reliable radio.

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