Can we install this car deck ourselves?
January 16, 2013 10:12 PM   Subscribe

We got this bluetooth/CD deck from Santa and wonder if we should consider installing it ourselves. We're not very mechanical but we're comfortable installing RAM and network cards in our computers. We drive an older Corolla and there's an after-market CD/AM-FM in it now.
posted by R2WeTwo to Technology (10 answers total)
Best answer: Sometimes these things plug right in, or you need an adapter - and sometimes the adapter requires you to make about a dozen butt splices - you'll need a crimp tool and the little splice dohickies in that case, and there's usually the game of figuring out which wire from the cars harness goes to which wire in the adapter - a lot of the info is on line, but it can be annoying.

The real issue is usually getting the old stereo out without destroying your dashboard and getting the new one to fit snugly. In my Volvo it's pretty easy - there's a little rectangular spot on either side of the stereo - you push them in and they pop out releasing the hooks that hold the stereo in place and giving you little handles to pull it out with. In my truck, taking the stereo out, well, you know those videos where a crow has to work to get a piece of a food out of a tube with a bit of wire? Yeah, just like that. (Some stereos need special tools for removal, but look around on line - you can fake most of them.)

My advice, play with the old stereo for a few minutes and see if you can slide it out, then look at what you have in the back and see if you can just plug the new one in, or if you need to do major surgery. If during either of these steps you start feeling like you're getting in over your head, stop, undo what you've done and visit a pro.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:27 PM on January 16, 2013

Best answer: Looking at the manual, you'll need to take out the old radio and see if it has a wiring harness, or whether it's been wired straight through. If there's a harness, you should be able to get a vehicle-specific adapter that links it to the deck. That's basically like installing an IDE cable or connecting a PSU to a motherboard, and within your skillset. If not, then it's the kind of wiring job that's probably best left to a specialist.
posted by holgate at 10:30 PM on January 16, 2013

Response by poster: Brilliant; thanks, guys!
posted by R2WeTwo at 11:04 PM on January 16, 2013

Best answer: I have a similar bluetooth receiver and a 10 year old Prius (which is built on the Corolla chassis) that had an aftermarket CD/AM-FM unity. I did in fact need to get a vehicle-specific adapter (about $10 on Amazon) but was glad to have the professionals do the actual install (about $50) as it was a little tricky even for them.
posted by judith at 11:25 PM on January 16, 2013

Best answer: I just installed a new after market head set and speakers. Pep Boys, Best Buy, and any car audio shop will have car kits for installing a stereo in basically any car! Mines a 97 F150. Take your time, look at some car audio forums for improvements you can make to get the utmost in sound quality, since your upgrading. Like, sound deading, lining to reduce bass rattles and so on. I did mine on the cheap and it sounds soooooooo good! Totally worth the time and the money savings for the ultimate sounds. Good luck!
posted by SteelDancin at 1:37 AM on January 17, 2013

Best answer: Removing and replacing the head unit in my older Tacoma was tricky at first due to things being hidden and the amount to take off, but the last time I did it was straightforward. Look on youtube or on owner forums for helpful hints. For example my tacoma has a "push right here" trick once you get all the bolts out that is really helpful and not in any manuals.

You'll need to the harness to mate the factory harness to the stereo's harness. Just follow the labels and you're good - right front to right front etc. I like to use the heat shrinking butt splices. Very light application of a flame from a plumbers torch makes the connections really tight.

Looks like a cool unit too. I never even use the cd tray in mine anymore as it also has the usb port and 3.5mm in.
posted by Big_B at 9:04 AM on January 17, 2013

Best answer: If there's already an aftermarket stereo then you probably don't need anything else, since whoever installed the aftermarket stereo already had to get the car kit for your vehicle. If you have a soldering iron I suggest using that and electrical tape instead of making a giant tangle of crimps, but that's mostly just my personal preference. Just take apart the old wiring harness and splice the connector to the new unit in. All of the harnesses and head units I've dealt with have been pretty well labeled so I don't think you'll have too much trouble.
posted by ckape at 11:34 AM on January 17, 2013

Response by poster: Very encouraging and we feel emboldened. Soldering irons and butt splices look out!
posted by R2WeTwo at 10:31 PM on January 17, 2013

Best answer: FYI - If you're going the butt splice route then you don't need the soldering iron.
If you do go the soldering iron route get one of the trigger type ones. I enjoy soldering way more since I discovered one of those a few years ago.
posted by Big_B at 8:49 AM on January 18, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, Big_B. I did see that this was clear, that's how inept we are at this sort of thing!
posted by R2WeTwo at 3:29 PM on January 18, 2013

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