Your factory speakers finally stopped working after eight years of your favorite music playing so loud that people on the sidewalk enjoyed it as much as you. That iPhone headset doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore, so you have decided to upgrade those speakers and put the fun back into your car.
Doing Your Homework
After scouring the internet for reviews, listening to demos at a local dealer and then checking their prices on at least four different websites, you decided to buy two pairs of good quality speakers. But only after you brought your expert friend to listen to them and get the thumbs up on your purchase, the sales professional asked, “Would you like them installed?”. Looking him straight in the eye, you reply “nope; I got it covered with a buddy.”
With YouTube and Forums, I Can Install My Speakers?
Now you’re at home in the driveway or garage staring at the two boxes sitting on your passenger seat. Where do you start? Here is a basic outline:
- Search your car on YouTube, see if there is a video on the installation of your make, model, and trim level.
Trim level is usually defined by what options your car has, power windows or locks, etc. I will use the example of a Ford F-150. There is a base model, Lariat or King Ranch Edition. These trim levels will indicate your size of speakers, does the vehicle have a factory amplified or factory installed surprises (blind spot monitoring, heated mirrors, etc.). Trim level can vastly affect the ease of installation.
- Assemble your tools, panel puller, necessary hand tool set including a ratchet set and screwdriver set, and two large beach towels.
Lay one of the large towels under the door you are working on; this will stop any screws or clips that might get dropped from disappearing under your vehicle or down your driveway. With the second towel, lay it down on the ground away from the car, this is where you will place the door panel when it is removed. It provides a clean place, with no possibility of falling over. Most door panels can cost well over $300, let’s keep it safe.
- Remove the screws/bolts you can see, be sure to look under things as well.
Now its gut check time, gently tug on the panel one section at a time. If you can see a clip, slide your panel puller under it and give a slight pry. Slowly work your way around the door panel. Once you have removed the panel, carefully and slowly unplug all the wiring connectors from the door panel. Place the door panel on the towel once removed.
- Remove the speaker from the door and place it on the towel under the door.
- Locate a wiring diagram for the positive and negative speaker outputs and make the connection.
Do not cut off the factory speaker connector, strip the wire back 1-2 inches from the connector and connect the wire. At this point, we have to confirm the wiring. If you use an iPhone, download the AudioControl Mobile Tools App. It has a “phase polarity” section, you can go to www.audiocheck.net, and you can play various tones in and out of phase. Make sure your speaker is playing in phase, I know this seems like a lot of work, but if one speaker is out of phase you can lose 50% of your bass.
- Finish your connections and secure the speaker wires away from any moving parts within the door and mount the speaker securely in the door.
- Test the speaker again to make sure nothing has come undone or has pinched while mounting the speaker in the door.
- Leave the speaker playing while reinstalling the door panel, if the music stops or cuts out during re-assembly, you know you have a short or pinched wire.
Repeat all the steps on the other doors. Now that all four speakers are installed, and the car is fully assembled, with not even one left over screw, it’s time to start the car and listen to your favorite track. But there is one last thing you need to do to finish the job, sneak those towels back in the closet before your wife/mom catches you using the beach towels on the car.
The answer is yes, you can DIY your speakers, but you have to carefully complete the proper steps, just like the pros to ensure you get maximum performance out of your purchase. I would plan an afternoon for this project. If you don’t fully understand these steps, or you don’t have the proper tools for the job, we really suggest getting your speakers professionally installed.
If you’re like us and just love working on cars and doing your own DIY projects, just plan your installation and work with a local car audio dealer. Car Audio dealers have access to any individual parts you might need for your unique automobile. Don’t be afraid of the project, do your research and plan the job from start to finish. In the coming weeks, we are going to launch an article on how to improve your bass performance in your door speakers.
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I would recommend washing the towels before sneaking them back, LOL!