instructions for for the mechanically challenged:
installing a car stereo

today, we will add a deck, amp, and bass-box to the 1996 gti vr6. as with my drl and trunk light instructions, these instructions are applicable for MY 1996 - so if your car is different and has 10 of everything that i point you at, then dont complain and bug me. at the same time, if you die because you were not careful about the things i warn you about, it isnt my fault as well. at the same time, i would be happy to answer any questions that you may have. but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read ALL of the following before attempting ANYTHING. i dont think that i can give you an accurate time estimate for the install, it took quite a while to get things neat and just right. fishing the wires can be a big pain. my guess would be a whole afternoon. things needed to install MY system: after market deck with rca outs after market cd changer, to be mounted in trunk amp, to be mounted in trunk speaker box, to be mounted in trunk wiring harness (connects factory wiring to your stereo) wire kit (power, remote, rca's fuse holder, misc. - long enough to go from the front of your car to the back) wire crimper/stripper a whole mess o butt-spices/flashtape philips head screwdriver/pliers fuba-antenna converter -the stereo: i had a dealer remove my deck with the two little u-shaped tools. or, you can spend $20 and buy your own, or spend a couple of hours to build your own. unplug the wire connectors from the factory stereo and stick them in the wiring harness for your after-market stereo. if you pop off the plastic pieces to either side of the stereo (where the heated seats controls should be) perhaps you can make things a little easier. some people even remove the vents above the stereo hole - dont ask me how, i didnt need to. then take your stereo mount sleeve and place it in the hole and bend the tabs so that it cant be removed (my stereo locks into this sleeve). *if you are JUST installing a replacement deck, then read the following and you will be done. assuming you got the correct wire harness for your stereo, you can start crimping the wires together with the butt-spices, - the colours should match right up. if you bought or made a fuba-antenna converter now is the time to hook it up, otherwise if you get a simple radio connector you should get only a few radio stations - i dont listen to the radio, so this isnt a problem. a local stereo shop said that they would make one for me for about $30, i have no idea how much the one from crutchfield costs. turn on the radio and make sure that everything works and sound is going to the correct speakers, otherwise, go back and look at your wiring diagram. gently push your stereo in and it should lock into the sleeve. you might have to fiddle with getting the wires out of the way, and this is why popping off the plastic pieces can help. done. -the rest: remove the lower panel under the drivers feet (the same one that i had you removed to do the work on the drls). then pop up the hood. if you look under the "rain sill" on the upper right hand side of the car (in front of the driver) on the fire wall you will notice two round rubber plugs, one bigger than the other. i picked out the smaller of the two and fed the power wire (usually thick and red) through the hole. it came out just behind the fuse box, so you might want to drop the box down if you need room to find the wire. crimp the fuse holder for your amp to the power wire. do not insert the fuse yet. crimp the fuse holder to a connector that you are going to attach to the positive on your battery. i would suggest getting a U-shaped one rather than a O-shaped one. do not connect to the battery yet. inside the car, pull the excess power wire through the firewall, leaving enough under the hood to connect to the battery. crimp your amp remote turn on lead to the "remote antenna" lead on your stereo wiring harness (blue with white stripe (check with your stereo manual)). if i was you, i would find a way to bundle the remote turn on lead, rca's, and your cd-controller cable. that done, fish them down out the back left side of the stereo hole. they should pop out somewhere above the drivers feet. at this point you can crimp the rest of the wires, plug in the rca's, and hook up the radio and gently lock it into place. if you did everything correct, the stereo should turn on and play through the correct speakers. then turn everything off. bundle all four wires (remote, rca's, cd, AND power). remove the screw for the molding on the floor to the left of the clutch. tuck the wires behind the molding. **warning**this is the dangerous part** to remove the door runner along the floor (that thing you step over to get into the car) there is only one screw on the inside of the runner towards the back of the seat. then, push hard down on the flat top-inside part and pry the bottom lip (closest to the carpet) with your fingers outside inside /----------\ | | --bottom lip \--------carpet------- do that for the entire length of the runner and then it should just come off. you must be careful not to make any violent moves during this step because the "firecracker" for the airbag is under this piece. pull the bundle of wires you tucked under the front lower panel and run them above the firecracker (there is actually space and little clips up there for wires - vw is really cool sometimes) towards the seat belt. pop up the rear seat and undo the screws in that general area, including the plugs. be careful. there is no need to undo the screws that run up the inside of the door to the window sill. maneuver the wires around the seat belt and hide them under the molding so that they come out under the back seat (this is where i stored any "extra" length of wire, versus having it float around the spare tire). then feed the wires under the trunk carpet and into the trunk. by now, you should know where you are going to put your stuff. i put mine in the back left pocket. (trunk: birds eye view) | | | | --wheel well | | |---- || back of car || --pocket || || \/ \-_____________________ \_____________________ whats really cool about vw is that they have a grounding place in that pocket. if you peel back the carpet, you should see two orange wires attached to a piece of metal. if you undo the bolt that holds them to the chassis, your trunk-light should dim/go out. this is where you are going to attach the ground for your amp. grab the ground wire (black, and the same thickness as the red power) and crimp on a connector (an appropriately shaped O-shaped works great (about the same size as the other two). bolt all three back to the chassis. i put the carpet back and placed the amp up against that same piece of metal. NOTE: this "piece of metal" that i am talking about should *not* be the outside of your car. | | | | --wheel well | | |---- ||A back of car amp - ||M || ground - ||P \/ \-_____________________ \_____________________ using (something), mark the carpet where you need to screw in the amp. i found out that i could only use three screws, due to the way that metal is shaped. oh well. drill the holes. at this point, you can attach the following to the amp: the rca's, the ground (black), the power (red), the remote turn on lead (blue?), and the speaker wire. do not screw in the amp yet - you have to test it out first. plug the speaker wire from the amp into the speaker-box. i put my cd-changer right next to the amp with the mounting brackets attached, and using the same white pencil i marked the carpet where the screws for the mounting plates should go. using an exacto knife, cut holes in the carpet and push the screws on the plates up through the carpet. plug it in, but do not screw it down. | | | | --wheel well | | |---- ||A C back of car amp - ||M D -- cd changer || ground - ||P \/ \-_____________________ \_____________________ back to the front of your car. time to connect the amp power to the battery. you should probably disconnect the negative lead to the battery, but i didnt. loosen the connector to the positive just enough to slip your u-shaped connector (connected to the fuse holder connected to the red power wire connected to your amp) under and then tighten down. be CAREFUL not to loosen the positive bolt too much or your alarm could go off. insert fuse into fuse holder. (if you hear a loud pop, then your fuse just blew. check the manual for your amp on how big it should be. perhaps try a bigger size.) you are done. turn on your stereo. check to see if your amp turns on. check to see that the speaker-box is loud enough, otherwise adjust the gain or bass or cross-over on the amp until the sound is the way that you want it. not doing so will make changing these settings later a big pain in the ass. keep in mind that although the bass sounds loud in the non moving car it might not on the road (so turn it up a little more than your think you need). turn everything off. back to the trunk. organize the amp wires how you want them to appear after you screw in the amp. screw amp in. then screw down the changer. hide all the wires behind and under various carpet/molding as you see fit. pull any excess wire back under the back seat (or wherever). re-attach all molding and the door runner (careful not to mess with the firecracker). you are done. -other things to consider: the same steps can be followed if you want to hook up an amp to just power your regular speakers. if you do this, you will want to run the rca's and the two/four returning pairs of speaker wire on the OTHER side of the car. if you dont, and you have a less than a super-nifty amp and you have your gain turned way up, you will probably get engine whine in your signal. if you do use the amp in the trunk to power your regular speakers, you will need to crimp the wires going from your amp to the speaker wiring harness instead of your deck wires. you should size out everything before you do anything. i was really lucky to have an amp and six disc changer that fit in that space in my trunk. i hope that you are as well. wiring kits can be purchased that have everything that you need to do most everything. chances are, you are going to have to run and get more butt-splices for all the wires you have to crimp. i have a fosgate punch 40.2 (the new ones with the gold end-caps) bridged mono to a jl audio 10 w-2 in a jl box, alpine deck and alpine 6-disc. the amp is MORE than enough to power my old box with two cerwin 10s at two ohms. the new box is TINY and lets you keep most of my trunk space. be well, go well.. --- addendum #1: someone asked if i had a wiring diagram. you should have one in the manual for your new stereo. if you are too lazy to find it, or if you stole your stero here is what my manual says: gray right front white left front violet right rear green left rear blue power antenna blue/white remote turn on black ground red switched power yellow battery lead solid colours are the positive, and wires with a stripe are the negative. updated: 2003.176