Car Stereo Install: The Colouring In Phase

Do you sit in traffic on the way to work and cry at the sound of talkback radio?
Are you sick of all your CDs getting scratched from all the bumps in the road?
Perhaps annoyed with needing to constantly change cassette tape in your grandmas old car?
Or are you one of those people who drives around with your headphones on?
Then it’s time for an upgrade…

Aftermarket car stereos are stupid cheap these days, ranging from $15 to get a cheaper knock off, to getting an entry level auxiliary input or even bluetooth unit for between $50-150. Not to mention checking out your local classifieds for used items that could be even cheaper with more features.

But the issue is not just buying one of these, its then finding someone who won’t do a dodgy job of installing it in their backyard. Fear no more. You can do it yourself. Its not much more difficult than a colouring in book.

I recently replaced the car stereo in a newer Suzuki Alto and the whole job was done for $200, it looks factory and took me about an hour and a half with basic around the house tools and a few things off eBay.

Now first things first, you went to the shop, or got that package off eBay from who-knows-where, or met up with a person at midnight in the local maccas carpark.
You rush home and plonk the box down on your kitchen bench.
Ripping the carboard open, you throw caution to the wind, plastic wrapping, instruction manuals and random cable ties flying everywhere.
Until you see it… your new stereo…
Well stop looking at it. There’s more important things to talk about right now.
What you want to look for is a little plug with coloured wires sticking out of it.
That’s where we want to start.

This is probably the most difficult part of the entire stereo job (I mean apart from loosing a screw from inside the car, or spending 15 minutes looking for the screwdriver you swear was just beside you not a second ago, or a panel not coming off in the way directed).
This is the plug that will go into the back of your stereo and will make everything work (a bit like the cable that plugs your head into the matrix), and each of the colours have a particular purpose. Lets go through them (Note the picture to the right has two plugs, firstly don’t be worried if this is the case, works the same way with one plug or two. Plus its easier to see and explain this way).

  • Yellow: This is the main power wire, in a very long winded way this wire is connected straight to your battery, this wire will always have power (providing your car has a battery and it isn’t flat).
  • Red: This is an accessory power wire, so there is no power in this wire until your car key is turned into the accessory position.
  • Black: This is the ground wire, essentially this wire is connected to the body of the car somewhere or negative terminal of the car battery (not literally but helps with the imagery).
  • Orange: (optional) This wire is the illumination wire, only giving power when the car has its headlights turned on. This is an optional wire as a lot of older cars won’t even have this ability for its old stereo.
  • Blue: This is the remote wire, think of this one as the power wire for your antenna (or power antenna), this magically lets your antenna work so you can listen to more of that horrible talk back radio on your daily commute.
  • Brown: (ignore) 99.999 (and so on) percent of the time these wires will NOT be on the plug(s) that you get with your stereo, so with that we will move on.
  • Green and Green with black stripe: These are speaker wires, with a positive and a negative wire (we can skip the speaker lesson for now). The positive side is without black stripe and negative side is with black stripe.
  • Purple and Purple with black stripe: See Green and Green with black stripe
  • Grey and Grey with black stripe: See Purple and Purple with black stripe
  • White and White with black stripe: Okay, not going to send you on the ‘see others’ train one more time, by now you get it. Long story short each of these pairs corresponds to a different speaker in the car, connect them and it plays music.

Congratulations, if you’ve made it this far the worst is definitely over. And that might be the best place to end this introductory section. Come back next time to visit the last few pieces to the car stereo install puzzle.

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