Author Topic: Installing a new car stereo  (Read 349 times)

electra225

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Installing a new car stereo
« on: January 16, 2018, 06:27:40 PM »
If the stereo in you car dies, the car is newer than 1965, and they only want $500 to do it, write the check before they change their minds.  Don't be cheap like me and think you can do it yourself and "save hundreds."  Do not listen to the wife whine how "you would fix it if it was a Magnavox".  Or even the threat that "a new Denali is 75 grand, you know!"  Some things are simply above my pay grade.  A man's gotta know his limitations.  I'm gonna probably get the job done without burning down the house or setting the "Check Engine" light, but I'm sure getting a "baptism by fire" with this thing...... ;)


The "victim" is a 2003 Chevy Tahoe.  The radio is part of the body control system.  Dingers and doodads galore, all controlled by the radio.  Really?!!
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

TC Chris

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Re: Installing a new car stereo
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2018, 07:54:00 PM »
I put the Pioneer into the '86 Mustang, carefully choosing a week when it was over 90 deg. F each day to do it.  The hardest part was extracting the old one, which was installed before a bunch of other parts on the assembly line.  I ended up getting help from the hack saw to cut some steel bracing that I spliced together afterward.  That part was relatively easy.  It just required some patience.  Same with actually putting the new one in.  That required some creativity.  Both steps required lots of sweat-wiping and a few bad words at the right moment.

But then came the setting of options.  The Pioneer has a half-gazillion, almost none of which are described in plain English in the instructions (which they don't give you on paper--you have to print out your own).  It has the infamous "demo mode," which must be turned off in order to keep the device from draining your battery while the car  is off.  The instructions do tell you that, but they are very guarded about exactly how it is done.  Its for them to know and you to find out.  That process extracted lots of bad words, both times I've had to do it. 

So yeah, maybe $500 is a bargain.

Chris Campbell

Alfista

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Re: Installing a new car stereo
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2018, 10:14:02 PM »
 I was a car stereo installer in a previous life, 1980 to mid 90's. Had a lot of fun, and I often miss it. Cars and music.

Chris, I did a zillion mid-80's mustangs, often had to pull the dash pad to remove the little oval factory amp. It used common-ground input while most aftermarket radios had floating speaker grounds. Once you do a couple and get to know them, it's not a bad job at all. With small hands, I could get those radios out in 15 minutes or so.

 The newer cars are more of a pain. Like Greg said, his radio is part of the can-bus and operates things it has no business being involved with. Started in the late 80's/early 90's with BMW and Cadillac. Some guys went to the trouble extending the can-bus wiring of the factory radio and moving it under the dash or even into the trunk so it could still function where necessary. It's getting worse with every new year.
 
 Greg, with your car there is likely an adapter needed to handle the can-bus and connect the new radio to the existing wiring. Like you said the factory radio does things like generate signals for the door dinger, but that's more involved than it sounds on the surface. I don't have personal experience with this newer stuff, but I've heard that some of these adapters generate cheesy-sounding dings and use an external speaker rather than sending these sounds back through the factory speakers. They add considerable cost to the installation, too.

 Point being, due diligence is in order before laying out that kind of cash. I would even look into new or refurbished factory units if you're happy with the performance of the GM unit.

-Tim

TC Chris

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Re: Installing a new car stereo
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2018, 11:52:00 PM »
Oh, the Mustang's little sub-dash amp was easy.  It was the "head unit" of the Premium Sound system that refused to budge.  I've got the Ford shop manual for the car and as I recall it directed me to undertake a complete removal of the dash structure.  That's when the hacksaw started calling me.  It worked just fine.  Cut, spread, remove radio, bolt in a piece to join the cut.  Can't see it unless you remove the radio.

Chris Campbell

Bill

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Re: Installing a new car stereo
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2018, 06:25:49 PM »
Greg,

Good luck with not setting the "check engine light"!  That was not uncommon. Sorry to bear the bad news.

Bill

electra225

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Re: Installing a new car stereo
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2018, 08:09:54 PM »
I have the little box that is supposed to connect the original wiring to the new stereo.  An "interface" if I remember the nomenclature correctly.  I have read up on the dreaded "demo mode".  This stereo is a JVC.  The replacement speakers are about a millionth of an inch or so from being a direct fit.  Cussing and kluging is required to get the bolts in the replacement speakers.  My immediate problem is that I cannot unplug the left door window module (window switch on older cars).  This doodad is a $100+ electronic doodad that will break, sometimes without warning.  I believe I'm going to ask Mikey if he will come over and hold the door panel up whilst I replace the speaker.  Rampant Hank Thompson recordings at high volume has caused all the foam surround to fall out of the speakers.  I can't believe this contraption is a Chevrolet.  Back when I turned wrenches, all this hocus-pocus was on foreign cars.


Look, this is not that big a deal, really.  I have taken cars apart to the last nut and bolt and put them all back together, better than new.  Did that for years.  I was expecting to get a new radio, take out the old one, put the new one in and be done in about 15 minutes like we did when I was in high school.  The rules have changed, apparently, and nobody told me.


Mikey has volunteered to get rid of the demo BS and program the thing for 94.1 "The Ride" and make sure my CD's work.  And set the clock.  And crank up the bass.  The rest if of no interest to me.
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

electra225

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Re: Installing a new car stereo
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2018, 02:13:19 PM »
Success!!!   :D


Ahhh, the sweet smell of victory.  The stereo works.  The frau may be mistaken for a drug dealer, going down the road booming to Hank Thompson.  I'm impressed.  I took care of the dreaded "demo" mode without a hitch.  I sat her radio stations.  I set the clock and the date.  ( I never could do that with the factory stereo).  No check engine light.  Everything still works and the dinger does not sound dinky.


Two lessons learned.  First, YouTube, the dealer and Google were so full of it their eyes are turning brown.  I have learned to ignore the experts and just use common sense.  Second, nothing has really changed since 1965 except that little module you have to install so the new radio will talk to the computer.  Some guy in Arlington is laughing at the clown who is trying to get the radio out after he installed an extra tie on the harness.  I had to remove the instrument cluster partially to cut that thing, but, other than that, no problem.  And $500 to install a car stereo is still way too much money.  If I can do it, it has got to be simple.


I still have not figured out how to unplug the harness to the window regulator module on the left driver's door.  I'm going to get an able assistant to hold the door panel up while I extract the speaker and install the new one.  The dealer says there is a special tool to unlock the latch on the harness, NAPA has never heard of it.  Nothing on YouTube or Google about it, either.  So I'm gonna punt. 
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

electra225

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Re: Installing a new car stereo
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2018, 11:41:25 AM »
The center armrest on the neighbor's 2006 Chevy pickup broke.  Dealer wanted $262.00 for the armrest lid and $214.00 for labor to install it.  Greg's Driveway Garage did the job for $81.42.  That charge was what Amazon charged for the lid plus shipping.  The dealer wanted the BIG money to do the stereo in the wife's Tahoe.  Greg's Driveway Garage did the job for $216.80, including gas for the Mini to run all over creation for doodads to complete the installation.  There is an excellent YouTube video telling the secret to changing the armrest lid.  Piece of cake.  The stereo was not so simple, but I've done worse.  I made it worse than it was by reading the directions.  I typically just dive in and let the chips fall where they may.  The wife was talking about a new Denali if I messed up.  I won't listen to her anymore....... ;)
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

electra225

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Re: Installing a new car stereo
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2018, 04:11:55 PM »
Realizing that this is a console website, not a spleen-venting forum for Mr. Goodwrench, I offer the following.


The bane of auto mechanics when they needed to go into a car door was the door trim panel itself.  These were typically made of cardboard.  Plastic clips held the panel to the car door.  The cardboard panel would become water damaged.  Heat and time weakened the plastic clips.  Getting the door panel off without ruining it and not exercising one's best swear words was nearly impossible.  The intervening years have caused some car engineer at GM to rethink the situation.  The door panels on the wife's Tahoe were made of some type of fibrous plastic material, alleged to be recycled plastic.  There are brackets, about an inch long, with a 45 degree angle on the end.  These brackets are molded as part of the door panel.  These brackets slide in slots in the metal door.  All that needs to be done to remove the door panel is to take out three screws and lift up on the door handle.  The panel slides right up.  Piece of cake.  The front radio speakers are retained by plastic rings, also planted in slots in the metal door.  No screws are involved with the speakers.  Put the new speakers in the brackets, put the bottom slots in first, then push.  Done.  All the good door panel engineering is offset by the idiotic design of the clip that holds the main plug in the window regulator modules.  I never did get those off.  There is a wide bracket, about three inches wide, that can be used to hold the door panel back and out of the way while you work on speakers.  If I had to go deeper, I would cut that silly clip and hold the plug on with a wire tie. 
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....