Nothing quite completes a great ride like an awesome audio stereo system. If you’re considering installing a head unit and all the connecting speaker wires and subwoofers for a better sound system for your vehicle, here are all the tools you’ll need to do the job easily, safely, and properly:
When considering what you need to install a car stereo system, don’t forget the wire strippers. Stereo wires come in a variety of gauges, which makes a good pair of wire strippers indispensable. It’s important you line up the strippers with the proper slot for the gauge of wire you’re using. That way you will get rid of all the insulation without sacrificing any of the wire. Loss of even a few strands of wire results in a sound quality sacrifice. You’ll need a pair of good crimpers to fuse the wires together with some quality connectors.
This handy little tool is invaluable when installing a car stereo as well as for troubleshooting in case your installation doesn’t work. It resembles a mini ice pick with a small light in the handle. A wire with an alligator clip is attached. You simply attach the alligator clip to a good ground source and then touch the ice pick to a power source. If the light illuminates, you have power. If it does not, you do not.
For a professional connection, you can’t do better than solder. Solder comes on a small spool and is a great energy conductor. Once you twist your wires together, just heat them up with the soldering iron and touch the solder to the wire. You don’t need much to create a permanent connection that provides an efficient transfer of sound or electricity. It takes a while to get the hang of using solder, so practice for a bit before trying it for real.
A sound meter is a professional tool that tops the list of what you need to install a car audio system, as well as how to stay within the law. By measuring the decibels of your stereo system output, you can fine tune the bass and treble levels to provide a perfect sound mixture that’s pleasing to your ears. Some communities have noise ordinances that restrict stereos. Keep your sound meter in your car so the next time you’re pulled over you can prove you are within those restricted limits or if you are in a permitted area, show how loud your subwoofers can get.
Depending on if you are doing a standard installation with already existing locations for the stereo and speakers, or a more custom job, you will need various shop tools. Hole saws and jigsaws work well to cut out portions of the interior for speakers and subwoofers. Screwdrivers and panel removal tools come in handy to disassemble the dash and door side panels. You may also need a wire puller to route your speaker wire through inaccessible areas of your vehicle.
When deciding what you need to install a car stereo, don’t forget the camera. Depending on the complexity of your installation, it’s a good idea to either use your phone or have a small digital camera to take pictures of the original installation layout. Once you unplug all the wires, it can become a nightmare trying to remember what wire goes where. By taking a picture of the back of your old stereo while it’s still connected, you have a pretty good idea of where to place the wires on your new stereo. You’ll also need a camera to take a proud selfie when the project is complete.
Images are from a MC Audio subwoofer installation.