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Working out how to install a Car Stereo

Many months ago - maybe even more than a year ago - my partner's son asked if I could help install a new car stereo system into his first car. I've never installed a car stereo system before but, like most things, I can usually work it out so I said I'd give it a go.

Unfortunately, before I got started, he took it upon himself to pull out the old system without making any notes about what wire connected where. This pretty much set back my ability to work things out quite drastically.

I did give it a really good try but found the instructions on the new system difficult to follow (due to them being a poor translation into English from either China or Japan). Plus the wires on the new system didn't seem to match anything that was left in the car after pulling out the old system.

Teenage boys, being like they are, things have to be done now. I was being overly cautious because the stereo was new and expensive. I didn't want to accidentally short something out.

In the end he got a friend to install it and I never saw how it all went together. Though I understand I was on the right track with what I had done up to that point.

Fast forward to the last couple of days and my trusty little Galant which I introduced to you in my article Wheels Again.

Shortly after my partner bought this car for me she also bought her son's old car stereo, main unit to put in it. No speakers though as her son no longer had his.

I hadn't installed it yet as the main unit was not unlike the one I'd tried to install months before. Plus, even if I did install it, I wouldn't be able to hear anything until I bought some speakers.

This weekend, I didn't have much work on so I decided I'd give it a go. The Galant had most of the wires in place already from a previous stereo installation. It was just a case of working out what wire went where.

An added bonus was I also discovered the the Galant had one speaker still in place, located right in the middle of the dashboard. The speaker looked a bit past it's use by date but I was hoping it would still be okay.

I'll spare you the blow by blow account but some highlights included:
  • Ending day one with evidence of power getting to the stereo but with nothing else working.

  • Learning that as well as a red wire going to the ignition via a fuse and a black wire going to the car body, there needed to be another yellow wire going to the battery. Presto! All the lights on the radio worked... pretty!

  • Seeing a nice sparky flash when the wire running from the battery made contact with the body of the car (note that disconnecting the battery is always a good idea before installing a stereo).

  • Lots of very sticky red binding tape from the previous installation needing to be removed and getting sticky goo all over my fingers.

  • Researching internet sites for wiring diagrams and discovering an interesting history of the Galant.

  • Spending all day twisting and contorting trying to install the stereo from under the dashboard then discovering a panel right at the top centre of the dash, directly above the stereo, that could be removed. Wish I'd have found that earlier!

  • Discovering that the single front speaker still worked thus enabling me to hear the radio as well as admire all the pretty lights.

All up, this whole installation took me about two days. I didn't have the benefit of instructions and things like the Yellow wire going to the battery was actually a blue wire from the previous installation.

I'm sure someone, who knew what they were doing, could have finished the job in a couple of hours but I just wanted to show that, given enough time, I usually can work out how to do most things.

I'm sure my little Galant goes just a little bit faster now it has a stereo!

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