Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How to Install Speakers in Your Car

Installing new speakers is the single most cost-effective improvement you can make to your vehicle's audio/video system. Not only are aftermarket speakers relatively inexpensive, they are typically not difficult to install.
You can install many of the speakers we sell with a few tools that you probably have around your house. The free brackets, wiring harnesses, and detailed instructions that Crutchfield will send you with the speakers you buy from us (when available for your specific vehicle) will save you time and effort.
What you'll need to complete the job
Each car presents its own specific type of installation issues, varying on factory speaker locations, mounting depth and height, and the vehicle's factory wiring. Many installations are straightforward — a screwdriver might be all that you require to complete the job. Other installations can be more involved, particularly if you're installing component speakers. Your MasterSheet™ instructions from Crutchfield will specify the exact tools you need, and walk you through the process step-by-step.
The tools you'll need might include, but aren't limited to:
a variety of screwdrivers (Phillips, stubby Phillips, flat-blade, and magnetic or offset screwdrivers)
Torx drivers and bits
drill (with screwdriver and bits)
Allen wrenches
socket wrench set
wire cutter/stripper tool
soldering iron and solder
crimping tool and connectors
panel removal tool
retaining clip remover (or a screwdriver covered with a shop rag)
a file
electrical tape
exacto knife
General Tips
Every car is different, so you may encounter issues that differ from the ones described here. Here are a few general tips to keep in mind as you plan your speaker installation.
Types of installations
After you identify your vehicle on our Vehicle Selector and select the mounting location, you'll see which speakers fit your car. Speakers labelled "E-Z" will fit in the factory speaker openings and use the factory grilles and brackets. The magnet fits the available space and the tweeters won't interfere with your grilles.
Other sizes — labelled "P" — fit with the aid of a mounting bracket (free with speaker purchase), or with minor modifications (such as drilling new screw holes, cutting a small area of metal or pressboard, or filing cardboard or plastic to make room for a speaker that is larger than the factory opening).
Component speaker systems include separate woofers, tweeters, and crossovers. The component woofers will install in your factory speaker locations, but the tweeters usually require custom installation. This typically involves drilling holes in the door panels or dash, depending on where you choose to mount the tweeters.
If Q-Logic makes a Q-Form replacement kick panel for your vehicle, you can mount both the woofer and tweeter in the custom-fit enclosure. Depending on the vehicle, you may have to bend or relocate the parking brake pedal or other parts. Enter your vehicle in the Vehicle Selector and click on the Kick Panel Enclosures tab to see specific information on installation details for your vehicle.
When you install your new speakers, you'll have a set of free instructions specific to your vehicle, as well as free Crutchfield speaker wiring harnesses (when available), which eliminate the need for splicing.
Replacing dash speakers
Most dash speakers are easily replaced by removing the grilles, which are held down by screws or friction fittings. You might need to use a 90-degree (offset) screwdriver to get at the screws near the windshield.
If the grille is held in place by friction fittings, carefully pry it up. To avoid scratching or cracking the surrounding dash as you do this, it's a good idea to put something broad and flat (like a putty knife) underneath whatever you're using to pry up the grille.
If the application of slight pressure is not enough to remove the grille, proceed cautiously. In some cases the grille is secured from below by screws, or by plastic studs which can break with excessive force. In such cases, the entire dash panel may need to be removed.
Remove the old speakers, making sure to note the polarity of each terminal. (The speaker's positive terminal is the larger of the two, and usually is marked with a "+" or a colored dot.) Use your wiring harness to attach the new speaker, or solder or crimp the connections as your installation requires.
Don't use electrical tape to secure the connections. Because your dash is subject to more temperature and climate extremes than almost any other part of your vehicle's interior, the electrical tape will deteriorate in short order, and you'll run the risk of a loose connection.
Replacing door speakers
In many cars, door speakers are the easiest to replace. In many newer cars, manufacturers have notched a slot into the edge of the grille. All you have to do is take a screwdriver, pop out the grille, and unmount the factory speaker.
Some grilles are mounted by screws or friction fittings, and require you to remove the screws or pry the grille to remove the speaker. There are three basic steps to replacing a door speaker in a vehicle like this.
Step 1. Remove the grille and factory speaker. Be gentle with the speaker, since it probably is attached to a wiring harness and you might want to reinstall the factory speakers if you sell the car later. Some manufacturers also use a sealant or foam when they first mount the speaker — you might need to cut through that material with a utility knife.

For many speakers, Crutchfield supplies plug-in harnesses to simplify wiring.

Step 2. Unplug the factory wiring harness, and attach the Crutchfield wiring harness to your new speaker's terminals, again making sure that the polarity is correct. With the wiring harness connected to your new speaker, simply plug the other end of the harness into the factory wiring harness. If a wiring harness is unavailable, you will need to solder or crimp the connections. Test the speaker before you put it into place.
Step 3. Check one last time to be sure that all of your wiring is secure, then screw the new speaker into place in the factory mounting and re-attach the factory grille.
If you have to remove the door panel
In some cars, you'll have to remove the door panels to get the factory speakers out. As always, your Crutchfield instructions will walk you through this procedure step by step. Start with the window crank. Some are secured with a screw at the pivot, which is sometimes hidden by a piece of snap-on trim.
A panel tool can help you remove window cranks without damaging your vehicle's interior.
Most, however, are held in place by a spring clip. We carry an inexpensive retaining clip tool designed to remove this clip, but with a little more effort you can also do it using a small flat-head screwdriver. Depress the surrounding door panel, look behind the window crank, and rotate the handle until you see the spring clip. Then gently push it off with the screwdriver.
After removing the window crank, remove the armrest (usually secured with a few Phillips head screws) and any trim around the door handle. The only thing holding the door panel on now should be a half dozen friction fittings and possibly a few more screws.
With all the screws removed, start at a bottom corner and pull the panel straight out. Use our trim panel tool or a large flat head screwdriver. Once the corner is loose, work across the bottom of the door panel and up both sides, again being careful not to use too much force. With the bottom and sides loose, the panel should now be hanging by some trim that sticks down into the window well. Lift straight up and it should come free. Replace the speakers as described in the previous section.