Double DIN car stereo installation (detailed instructions)

What you need

  • 1 hour
  • Vehicle manual
  • A toolbox with an adjustable wrench, a flathead screwdriver, a Phillips-head screwdriver, a wire stripper.
  • Double DIN installation dash kit (specific to your car)
  • Wiring harness adapter: you can go either with a Metra wiring harness or a Scosche wiring harness. Choose one that is specific to your car’s make and model (they vary depending if the vehicle has a stock non-amplified or amplified system). These wiring kits make it a lot easier to install an aftermarket headunit into your car without guessing which wire from your stock harness needs to go where. This is a plug and play installation that doesn’t require any modification to the vehicles stock wiring harness. All these require are crimp caps to attach the Metra or Scosche wiring harness to the aftermarket stereo wiring harness. You then plug it into your vehicles wiring harness (see Step 4).


Installing a double DIN car stereo requires quite a bit of preparation work. You will want to do the wiring on a big clear table. You will have two wiring harnesses: the one you have just purchased for your car (that we will refer to as the “wiring harness adapter”), and the one that’s supplied with your new stereo unit.

Step 1: Wiring

Gather the new car stereo, the wiring harness adapter, and the necessary tools on a big table.

You are going to plug the stereo wiring connectors from the rear panel of the new stereo unit into the corresponding leads of the wiring harness adapter. The job here is to pair up wires of matching colors.  It’s as easy as that. Check the wiring harness manual, but normally the yellow wire is for battery, the orange ones notify the stereo when the headlights are on, black is for ground, blue is for the power antenna, and red is for accessories. Speaker wires are also included with the harnesses. White is for the left-front speaker, grey is for the right-front speaker, green is for the left-rear speaker, and purple is for the right-read speaker. You have to be careful with matching up speaker wires though as there are two wires for each speaker: one is for the positive polarity, and the other for negative. The negative cable has a black stripe down the side, while the positive cable is just one solid color.

Once you’ve matched up the color pairs, strip the ends of each wire using your wire strippers. Twist the wires together and join them using electrical tape or crimp caps. Why not soldering, you ask? Soldering takes a very long time, it’s messy, you could burn something if you’re not paying attention, and a lot of people don’t have the soldering tools…

Once you’re done, check a couple of times that you’ve matched up all the relevant wires. If you want to see the wiring process in action, here is a great video showing you what it looks like.

Bear in mind that most double din headunits don’t let you play DVD while driving. If you want to solve that “problem” you need to connect the pink handbrake/parking brake wire directly to the top of the stereo, or hook it up to one of the electrical contact of a toggle switch while connecting the black wire (ground) to the other contact. This allows you to toggle the bypass on and off without the radio turning off.

Step 2: Preparing the car

Now go outside to your car. Pull the hood release lever under the driver’s-side dashboard. Lift the hood at the front of your car. Loosen the bolt on the negative battery cable with a wrench, lift the cable from the battery and lay it to the side. This prevents blowing a fuse if you get something wrong.

Step 3: Removing the stock car stereo

Go inside the car. Pry open the gear lever surround with your flathead screwdriver. Pull forward the panel containing the air conditioning controls. And then finally remove the air vents which surround the head unit. Only then can we get at the bolts that are holding the stereo in place.

Once all the bolts and screws have been removed, pull the stereo out of the dock, and detach the wiring connector and the antenna cable. Now that it’s free, we can harvest the mounting brackets and use it on our new stereo.

Step 4: Connecting the new double DIN headunit to the car

When the mounting brackets have been affixed to the new stereo, plug the wiring harness connector into the outlets on the upper right corner of the double-DIN stereo’s rear panel. Plug the antenna cable lead into the FM antenna outlet commonly located on the lower left corner of the stereo’s back panel. Finally, connect the wiring harness adapter to the car’s wiring harness sitting in the empty dock. If you’re installing a fancy model, there are a few more things to connect, like a GPS antenna. The GPS antenna needs a clear sight of the sky, so you have to drop the wire through nooks and crannies in the dashboard. Likewise, the microphone for Bluetooth hands-free phone needs to be located in a good spot. If there’s an iPod connector, it’s pretty wise to put this wire in the glove box. This requires a bit of experimentation.

Step 5: Testing the new car stereo & putting everything back into place

Once everything’s been put into workable location, it’s time to put the stereo back into the dock. Note that you may need to insert a double DIN mount adapter/installation dash kit specific to your vehicle into the empty stereo dock. You then need to slide the headunit into the double DIN adapter until it locks into place within the mounting dock.

Before you fit all the trim pieces back in place however, it’s a good idea to check that your installation is working. Reconnect the battery and put the car in accessory mode. Once the power’s up, you need to check the sound, so use the fader and balance controls (play with the left right channels) to make sure the sounds are coming out of the right speakers. Turn the headlights on and off to make sure that the new stereo screen and the backlights dim themselves as appropriate. Try the CD, iPod connector, Bluetooth hands-free and so forth as well. Once you’re satisfied that everything is in working order, turn the car off again, disconnect the battery, refit all the trim pieces, reconnect the battery, and voilà! You’ve installed your new double DIN car stereo into your car.

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