The factory speakers that come in many new cars are often, simply put, lousy. Happily, using replacement speakers is not only a relatively inexpensive way to improve your car's sonic capacity, but they're also generally straightforward to install (although the sheer number of speakers available means that some will be more difficult to install than others). Read on to learn how to install a new set of speakers that will shake up the trunk of your car!
Part 1 of 2: Preparations for Installing New Speakers
Choose your new speakers
Step 1. Check the stereo system in which you will install your new speakers
Some systems are simple stereo systems with a limited voltage and two to four channels, so installing 100 watt speakers or adding 8 or more does not make sense. Trying to place too many speakers tightly can actually affect sound quality or even damage the stereo.
Step 2. Check the dimensions of the old speakers so that you only need to make minor modifications to make the new ones fit
Speakers come in different shapes and sizes, so plan to fit a replacement speaker, knowing that the original was 7 x 9 inches (15 x 23 cm) and oval, rather than 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter., will help you choose the most suitable one.
Step 3. Consider quality
Speakers with composite or cloth cones are generally noticeably better than those with paper, and speakers with permanent ceramic magnets perform better than electromagnetic speakers at the same power level.
Step 4. Choose speakers with accessory packages that you like
You can find many different styles of accessories and covers in a similar price range, so it makes sense that you want to choose not only the ones that sound good, but also look good.
Step 5. Check the electronic characteristics of your speakers
Some have internal resistors to prevent static and crosstalk, others allow wiring in a series of circuit configurations that allow you to add loudspeakers for low and high frequencies if you need them, and others only allow terminal wiring to maintain proper system impedance.
Step 6. Take into account the power requirements of your new speakers, as they will influence the wiring
High-voltage speakers may not be capable of working with factory wiring, and upgrading to a larger size can involve a considerable amount of work, since factory wiring is sheltered in hard-to-reach places.
Get ready to install your speakers
Step 1. Gather your tools
As stated in the introduction, there are thousands of possibilities available for replacement speakers. Because of this, a single list of tools would not be sufficient to install some speakers and would be redundant for others. The tools you will need to install your new speaker system may include most of the following, but not necessarily only these:
- A variety of screwdrivers (flat, star, etc.)
- Cable cutters / strippers
- Allen wrenches
- Socket wrenches
- Craft knife
- Welder (and welding)
- Electric drill
- Torx screwdriver
- Panel removal tool
- Insulating tape
Step 2. Make sure you have chosen the right speakers for your car
Many replacement speakers fit into the factory speaker space, while others require a few minor modifications, such as installing a mounting bracket, drilling new screw holes, etc. Make sure to take this into account when purchasing your new speakers - installation processes for different sized or shaped speakers can vary in difficulty.
Keep in mind that many speaker stores offer tools online to determine which of their products is best for your car
Step 3. Avoid electrical damage by disconnecting your car battery
As with most types of electrical work, it is important to protect yourself and the electrical system before beginning. Disconnecting the negative battery terminal prevents the risk of injury from electric shock or damage to the car's electrical system from a short circuit, so be sure to do so before tampering with any internal electrical systems in the car.
Step 4. Review the instructions that came with your new speakers
Because there are so many different types of speakers available on the market, it is almost impossible to write a guide that covers them all perfectly. The instructions below are fairly generalized and may not apply to every type of speaker on the market. Whenever necessary, review the instructions included with your new speakers, as these will be specific to your unique product.
Part 2 of 2: Install the new speakers
Step 1. Remove any panels or grilles covering the speakers
Almost all speakers inside cars are covered with some kind of protective panel or grille. Before you can modify or replace the speaker, you must remove this barrier. Pry the rack out with a suitable tool, such as the flattened tip of a screwdriver, removing the bolts or screws that hold it in place, if necessary.
The procedure for accessing the factory speakers varies depending on the car. For example, in a worst-case scenario to gain access to the speakers you will have to remove the seats, crawl in the trunk to access important bolts or cables, or even remove the entire door panel
Step 2. Remove the factory speaker
Note that normally, but not always, the speaker is attached to a set of cables, so be careful not to tear it off when you remove it. It may also be necessary to unscrew one or two small bolts and / or peel off the adhesive rubber or glue that holds the speaker in place.
If you think you will need to reinstall the factory speakers in the future (for example, if you sell the car), don't forget to save any screws you remove
Step 3. Connect the new speaker to the car's electrical system
Generally, to connect a new speaker you only need to connect the wiring harness from the new speaker to the one from the car. However, if your car does not have this type of simple connection, you may have to connect your speaker with a soldered or crimped connection.
- Make sure you use the correct polarity for the car and speaker connections. Usually the positive terminal of the speaker is the larger of the two and is marked with a "+" or a small dot.
- Electrical tape can be a risky option for wiring connections, especially for the dash of your car, since changes in temperature can weaken it and cause problems down the road.
Step 4. Test the speaker
After connecting your speaker, it is important to test the connection so that you don't have to waste time later to fix a problem. Reconnect the negative battery terminal and turn on the car radio or stereo. Pay attention to the sound emerging from your new speaker or watch for visible vibrations at high volumes. If the speaker does not work, it means there is a problem with the electrical connection.
Step 5. Secure the new speaker
When you are sure the speaker is working properly, secure it in place on the door or dash. If you are lucky, your speaker will fit into the factory speaker space. However, you may need to install a special mounting bracket (these are usually included with the speaker), drill new screw holes, and / or use adhesives to hold the speaker in place. Review the instructions included with the speaker.
Step 6. Install and test low frequency speakers
Low-frequency speakers are responsible for the very low, booming sound that some drivers idolize. If your car came with low-frequency speakers from the factory, installing new ones can be as easy as placing them in the designated space and connecting them to the car's wiring harness. However, if your car did not come with low-frequency speakers from the factory or if you would like to install additional ones, the task can be much more difficult. You may need to expand the mounting holes for the factory low-frequency speakers or make significant modifications to the car to accommodate large low-frequency speakers. For example, many people who want to add multiple low-frequency speakers to their cars install a panel in the trunk to place the low-frequency speakers.
- Low frequency loudspeakers tend to consume a lot of power and have complicated wiring. You may want to purchase and install a separate amplifier wiring kit to simplify the process of wiring your low-frequency speakers.
Otherwise, you may have to connect the low-frequency speakers directly to the battery and car stereo, and ground yourself manually
Step 7. Install and test high-frequency speakers
As with low-frequency speakers, high-frequency speakers, which produce high-pitched frequencies, can be installed in a simple or complicated way depending on the factory components of your car. If your car came with HF speakers, you may just need to install the new ones in the given space and connect them to the existing wiring harness. However, if there is no space to install the HF speakers, you may have to make a space on your own (or expand the existing space, use a mounting bracket, etc., if the space determined is insufficient). Fortunately, high-frequency speakers are much smaller than low-frequency ones, so the adjustments you will need to make are minor in comparison.
As with low-frequency speakers, if your car didn't come with high-frequency speakers, you may have to connect them directly to the car's battery and stereo and ground yourself manually
Step 8. Replace the speaker panels and grills
When all the components of your new speaker system are installed, tested, and securely placed in the car, you can replace the removed panels or grilles to install the speakers. Make sure you have saved all the screws you removed to remove the panel or grille so that you can properly secure it.
Congratulations, your new speaker system is ready to go
- If you find yourself in the situation described above, there are a few things you can do. Replacing your radio with a replacement one would further enhance the replacement speakers. Also, if you want to keep the look of the factory radio, or perhaps a feature like built-in helm controls, you can amplify the factory stereo.
- If you still have the original manufacturer's radio installed, installing replacement speakers may not improve sound quality. You may notice that your radio lacks depth in the low tones unlike the sound with the original speakers. This is because original factory speakers are typically made of paper cones, which require less power to produce low tones.
- Make sure the speakers are compatible with your car stereo. Most are built for a specific voltage and impedance, for example 25 watts and 8 ohms.
- Tighten the screws securely to secure them, as the speakers produce serious vibrations, especially at high pitches.