How to replace a car's stock CD player with an aftermarket?
August 28, 2008 2:50 PM   Subscribe

CD player in my car stopped working (everything else works tape and radio) and when I asked from the dealer I was quoted around $400 to repair it. Since it's not worthwhile spending $400 for a repair I thought of getting an aftermarket player.

1) I'm looking for a low cost player (below $100) and I'm not too picky about sound quality (even the sound of my stock player is good enough for me). Support for a SD card or a USB thumb drive is preferred. Any suggestions?

2) This is a picture of my current CD Player. As you can see it's height is about 3-4 inches. So If I remove that player and fix the aftermarket player (which are generally about 2 inches tall) there will be an empty space. How do you fill that space? Are there any face plates or something that's specific for my car model that would allow you to fix after market players?

3) If I can leave the current setup intact and find a CD, MP3, USB or a SD Card player that I can have in the glove box or the trunk that would be great. Any ideas?

- The reason I'm not using an adapter with my MP3 player is, it's a pain to switch it off every time I park the car and go somewhere. So basically I need something that will be turned off when I just stop the car and took the key out of the ignition.
- The car is a Avalon and CD player gives the "Error 1" and after going through some forums I tried a solution they have provided. Disconnect the battery for 15 min and reconnect. After that it worked for about 2-3 days. Tried the same trick again but no luck. If you have suggestions on how to fix it pls share them.
posted by WizKid to Technology (21 answers total)
There are kits that adapt the car-specific wiring and dashboard hole to standard aftermarket sizes. Anywhere that does in-store installation keeps them in stock or can order them.
posted by indyz at 2:57 PM on August 28, 2008

You probably want to look into a "Double-DIN" deck, meaning a double-height deck. Most electronics retailers sell them, and they'll be a much better fit.

posted by blue_beetle at 3:10 PM on August 28, 2008

You can replace your stock stereo with another (used) one for $100. If you just want plug and play without new features, this is the way to go. I suggested this a couple of years ago to someone on AskMe who was in the exact same boat as you, and that's what she ended up doing. Search at I found replacements for 2005 and newer Avalons for as low as $100. If your car is older the prices may be lower (more available).
posted by autojack at 3:53 PM on August 28, 2008

After market stereos look tacky imho. Buy a replacement unit off ebay.
posted by SirStan at 4:04 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone.

I went to Crutchfields and enter the vehicle information and from the Vehicle-specific Mounting Kits, I selected a Toyota Avalon In-dash Receiver Kit.

So just to be sure what you are saying is if I buy the above I should be able to buy a aftermarket player from some where and fit it to the car?

Thanks for the link. I'll look in to it. I was looking at aftermarket players with SD/USB, coz then I don't have to mess with CDs.
posted by WizKid at 4:34 PM on August 28, 2008

WizKid, call Crutchfield and they'll explain everything to you. They are really nice and helpful. If you buy a unit from them, they throw in everything you need (though they tend to sell stuff for full retail, so it isn't a big price savings).
posted by YoungAmerican at 4:46 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Another thing. I don't want to change the existing factory fitted speakers. So even if I installed an aftermarket player, I should be able to use them?
posted by WizKid at 4:50 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: @YoungAmerican

Thanks, I'll call them.
posted by WizKid at 4:51 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Ohhh and howz Crutchfield with mail-in rebates?
Do you get your money back or is it like mail-in rebates, where you'll have to say goodbye to the money.
posted by WizKid at 4:55 PM on August 28, 2008

Yes, you can use your factory speakers.

I've done mail-in rebates with Crutchfield and they were fine. I've bought stereo stuff from them since the '80's and they've always been great, just not especially cheap, as YoungAmerican noted.
posted by found dog one eye at 4:58 PM on August 28, 2008

You can also go to your local car stereo dealer, and get the head unit and fit kit from them. You will need to do some wire splicing to install the cable harness, but that's pretty easy to do. You might need to do some online searching to find any specific instructions on how to remove your factory unit (usually requires removing part of the dash, etc.). Not that hard.
posted by noahv at 5:01 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: I'm looking at Clarion DUZ385SAT from Cruthfield, since It's 4'inch one. I have never heard about the Clarion brand.

How is it? howz the sound quality and durability?
posted by WizKid at 5:21 PM on August 28, 2008

I just recently bought a new car stereo to replace my old one that broke. There was an abundance of models that had USB plugs on the front. I think the one I got was $140 (in Vancouver, Canada) and had a USB plug and a stereo in jack, both right on the front faceplate so very convenient. It's been working well, sounds great, no complaints. I don't see much need to spend any more. Of course, ask me again in a few years and we'll see if it still works.
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:57 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: What are other reliable places to by players other than Cruthfield?
posted by WizKid at 7:24 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: In the above Clarion player it says 'inputs: USB input on rear cable'
What does that mean?
How can we use the USB if cable is in the back?
posted by WizKid at 8:05 PM on August 28, 2008

One of the reviews for the Clarion on the site you linked to said:
The USB cable that comes out the back of this is about 2.5 feet long. So I can place it just about anywhere in the front of my dash
That may be good for an ipod you want to put out the way somewhere, but for a usb memory stick you'd probably want a usb socket on the front of the player which you can plug it straight into.
posted by JonB at 11:19 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Any other reliable and cheap places to by players other than Cruthfield?
posted by WizKid at 6:29 AM on August 29, 2008

Response by poster: Also please point me to a good Car Stereo forum.
I found few like,,,, just wanted ur advice on which is better?

posted by WizKid at 6:43 AM on August 29, 2008

Online, Crutchfield is pretty much the best option, especially when it comes to service and installing it yourself. They'll send you vehicle-specific instructions, a list of the tools you need, and usually, all the mounting brackets and wiring harnesses and all you need.

You could try one of the big-box electronics retailers and possibly get a marginally better price on a head unit (which is what you're buying), but you're going to end up getting stuck for the bracket, wiring, and they're usually going to try and upsell you, push for an install, extended warranty, etc.

I buy pretty much all my car electronics from Crutchfield, and have for going on 20 years.

As for Clarion, it's a well-respected name in the business, I wouldn't worry about the unit you've picked. The 'USB input on rear cable' is so you can run the cable to your glove compartment, center console, etc.
posted by pupdog at 10:29 AM on August 29, 2008

Another solution is to go to a junkyard and pick up a salvaged radio. In some cases you may find a top of the line model that will fit in your car for $50 or less.
posted by tesseract420 at 3:19 PM on August 29, 2008

Response by poster: I placed an order for the player from Crutchfield and got with from 3days. Installation took about 3 hours and 2 calls to their Tech support line. What a great service.
posted by WizKid at 8:12 AM on September 8, 2008

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