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How do I start?

Can I just go to Walmart and buy any 'ol $30 stereo that has auxiliary and just take my old one out and expect it to work?

Or am I looking at a bigger task than I'm expecting?

The reason I want to replace it is because:

  1. I would love to be able to connect my phone to it.
  2. The current (factory) radio is all fuzzy. Only the back speakers give reliable sound, so I have the fade set all the way to "B" to only play out of the backspeakers. If I put it right in the middle, it CRACKLE CRACKLE CRACKLES as I turn the Fade dial, and only sometimes will it actually play out of the front speakers..

I had a good idea to try cleaning the stereo electrical contacts and see if that fixes the issue, but I don't know if I can take the knobs off of this old factory stereo? If so, how?

..If I can replace the stereo, how do I take off the dash? I read somewhere that you have to unscrew the 2 bolts in the ashtray and then slowly pop off the dash covering... then there's 4 holes on the stereo that you need to insert something in each one to pop them all out?

Once that was done, what am I looking at as far as putting in the new one?

I saw lots of people have problems with some sort of "amp"? I also read that this amp is only present on ones with "Premium" sound? How do I know if I have premium sound? I read that I can find out by looking on the back of 1 of the speakers in the door panel? So I'll do that later..

If I have premium sound, I'll have to do something with the amp which is somewhere on the passenger side by my understanding... what exactly will I have to do?

Thanks for all your help!

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There are a few things involved in installing an aftermarket stereo:

Where to Begin

If the stereo is stock (more accurately if it hasn't been replaced with an aftermarket one), then you will need a dash kit if you want to make it easier and cleaner for yourself. A dash kit is what you would install after removing the stock stereo. It will come with a wiring harness that you would hook up to the existing wires and a bracket that would fit right in the space of your old stereo. Now you can easily install any standard aftermarket stereo in its place.

Removal

Sounds like you are on the right track for removal. You can refer to your vehicle's manual for this or find a good tutorial online. You usually don't need any special tools for removing the stereo and dash plates, but a dash/trim removal kit could come in handy. These tools are usually plastic and come in different shapes and sizes. You could also try using flat head screwdriver, just be careful to prevent scratching your dash or other components.

Installation

Installing will be a breeze with the dash kit. As long as you have the wiring harness hooked up correctly, all you will have to do is plug the wiring harness into the new deck and slide it in. Follow the instructions that should come with your dash kit. Most manufacturers will match the colours up with your vehicles stock wiring to minimize error.

If your car does have a factory amp, you will need a deck that comes with pre-amp outputs. Most after market stereos will have these. A good deck will come with multiple outputs for connecting multiple amps (i.e., front, rear and sub).

It will be easy to tell if you have a factory amp upon removal of the stock stereo. If you notice any RCA cables kicking around there, you must have a factory amp. These RCA cables would connect to the respectable outputs on the deck. You would also need to make sure that the signal wire for the amp connects to the signal wire on your deck. This wire is typically labelled as "remote" (on the wiring diagram) and it is the wire that tells your amp to turn on when the deck is powered up. Again, the dash kit should contain all the instructions.

It is always useful to have a wiring diagram or specification. Refer to this link for the wiring spec for your vehicle.

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To add to Tariq's answer - make sure you get the correct wiring adaptor/harness for your vehicle - that way, it's just a case of plugging things in, without having to cut any wires, or worry about colours...

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