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They gave me a "kit" and a "harness" in addition to the radio. I'm at the knowledge level where I don't know what that means, but I'm assuming the harness holds it in place and the kit involves the wiring.

So-- doable, or go to the mechanic? I'm not bad with electronics or anything; I've just never done any carwork before.

Also, I was just looking at the wires that they sold me with it (adapter, I think?), and it's got a nice standard-looking plug on one end but a bunch of loose wires on the other, leading me to think this requires electrical tape or something a little more gritty than the average joe is prepared to do. True/false?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Most, if not all, new radios come with an ISO standard connection on the back. Quite a lot of modern cars also have ISO connections - if this is the case with yours, it is an easy 5-minute job:

  • Remove old radio - often the hardest bit!
  • Fit the cage that comes with the new one, bending the triangular tabs out slightly to secure it.
  • Plug in the new radio to the ISO power and speaker plugs, and the co-axial aerial.
  • Carefully push the new radio into place, ensuring the wires don't get trapped. It should clip into the cage once it is fully in.
  • Pop the old radio and the removal tools for the new one in the box and stick in a safe place (Don't lose the removal tools!)

If you don't have an ISO connection in the car, you shouild be able to buy a ready-made adapter instead - simply a short bunch of cables with an ISO connector on one end to go into the radio, and a manufacturer's plug on the other end to go into the car. Simply use this in step 3, no soldering or complicated wiring needed at all...

Such adapters should be available in any high-street car accessory shop, such as Halfords in the UK, or may be part of the kit and harness you got at the same time as the radio - Did they ask you at the time what your car was?

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I think I got such an adapter, yes. Well, what I got is the item on the left in this picture: autotoys.com/pics/ROEM-GM21.jpg –  Aerovistae May 18 '12 at 15:12
    
The one on the left, with a plug on one end and loose wires on the other, is the type described by Rory in his answer. The type I mean has a plug on both ends, with one end matching the stereo and the other end matching the car. –  Nick C May 21 '12 at 10:14
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If you have the right harness (the bunch of wires) for your car this can be really straightforward. The stock stereo is set up to plug straight into the wiring, but as all stereos are different the harness basically acts as an adapter.

You should have labels, or an instruction diagram showing which wires need to connect to what. Crutchfield provide a vast range of diagrams and info if you don't have this.

If you plan on it being a permanent install, you could solder the wires, but generally people use screw terminal blocks, which allow it to be disassembled easily.

enter image description here

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