How Hard Is It to Install a Car Stereo in Older Cars?

Old Car

Generally, it’s not difficult to install a car stereo in older cars but you will have to pay special attention to the dashboard, mounting kits, and wiring as these can be more delicate in older cars.

Cars are different, and some will be easier to work on than others. The level of difficulty when it comes to installing a car stereo really depends on your own experience and how comfortable you are working on older cars. If you have never had your radio replaced before, it can be a little more difficult than expected but still not awful.

It is possible for anyone to install a car stereo on an older car as long as they are willing to put in the work to learn what is needed. It might not be a good idea for everyone to go installing their own radios, however. There are things that can go wrong quickly, and if you don’t know how to fix it you could be in trouble.

There are going to be three main problems you can run into when you are installing a car radio yourself on an older car. Some cars have difficult dash components, mounting issues, and confusing wires.

There are very few instances where a manufactured radio will pop right out of the dash. Some will be more difficult to get out than others, but you could damage your trim on accident.

It is also possible that your new unit won’t fit properly in your dash. It is incredibly important to know the size of the dash of your older car, so you can pick the right-sized radio and mounting kit.

Additionally, you may also want to consider how to remove car stereo without keys, which you may not have to hand for an older car stereo.

The wiring of the radio is a very standard issue that is run into often. It can be unclear which colored wires connect to which part of the radio and the dash. It will be even more difficult if your radio has not been replaced before.

car stereo taken out
Photo of a stereo being replaced from an older car

1. Dash Component Issues

Older cars typically have intricate dashboards. Before you consider replacing your stereo on your own, you will need to figure out how hard it is going to be to get the radio out in the first place. Because of this, you may wish to look at youtube videos on how to remove a dash for your model of car. Additionally, a Car Trim Removal Tool will help pry the dashboard out of position, which could be extra stiff in older cars.     

If you mess with it a little and it doesn’t come out, you might want to reconsider replacing it on your own. In this case, you may want to see your article on the average cost for head unit installation.

TIP: Dash may be difficult to remove so a Car Trim Removal Tool may be useful in helping this. 

2. Fit and Mounting Problems

The most common problem you will run into is buying a radio that will not fit into your dashboard. It is extremely important that you look and measure your dash before purchasing a radio.

Most stereos fit universally in cars, some older cars are not typically installed with new stereos so you should make sure it fits and won’t look goofy. The mounting kit is necessary for putting your radio in the dash, so you will need to make sure you pick the right size for your dash and radio.

ipad being used as a head unit
Consider how it will look and fit in and around your dash

3. Wiring a New Radio

Wiring your new radio will be the most intricate part of replacing the unit in your older car. If you have never replaced your unit before, the wires can be worn down and hard to tell apart. 

This part can be made much easier for you with the purchase of a wiring harness. The wiring harness makes it so you can just plug into the factory harness and avoid messing with the old wires at all. You’ll need to find a compatible wiring harness for your vehicle.  

It may also take a long time to install a car radio especially if it’s an older car. See our article on How Long Does it Take to Install a Car Radio for more information. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, it should not be difficult to install a car stereo in older cars such as yours, but this will depend on the make and model of your vehicle and the stereo you wish to install. There are many useful resources online to show you how to install a car stereo, with Youtube being one of the best as you’ll be able to visually see the process. 

 

Ultimately, if you’re considered about how hard it may be to install a stereo in your car you should consult a professional in your local area, either a garage or major retailer such as Best Buy or Halfords.  

Generally, it’s not difficult to install a car stereo in older cars but you will have to pay special attention to the dashboard, mounting kits, and wiring as these can be more delicate in older cars.

Cars are different, and some will be easier to work on than others. The level of difficulty when it comes to installing a car stereo really depends on your own experience and how comfortable you are working on older cars. If you have never had your radio replaced before, it can be a little more difficult than expected but still not awful.

It is possible for anyone to install a car stereo on an older car as long as they are willing to put in the work to learn what is needed. It might not be a good idea for everyone to go installing their own radios, however. There are things that can go wrong quickly, and if you don’t know how to fix it you could be in trouble.

There are going to be three main problems you can run into when you are installing a car radio yourself on an older car. Some cars have difficult dash components, mounting issues, and confusing wires.

There are very few instances where a manufactured radio will pop right out of the dash. Some will be more difficult to get out than others, but you could damage your trim on accident.

It is also possible that your new unit won’t fit properly in your dash. It is incredibly important to know the size of the dash of your older car, so you can pick the right-sized radio and mounting kit.

Additionally, you may also want to consider how to remove car stereo without keys, which you may not have to hand for an older car stereo.

The wiring of the radio is a very standard issue that is run into often. It can be unclear which colored wires connect to which part of the radio and the dash. It will be even more difficult if your radio has not been replaced before.

car stereo taken out
Photo of a stereo being replaced from an older car

1. Dash Component Issues

Older cars typically have intricate dashboards. Before you consider replacing your stereo on your own, you will need to figure out how hard it is going to be to get the radio out in the first place. Because of this, you may wish to look at youtube videos on how to remove a dash for your model of car. Additionally, a Car Trim Removal Tool will help pry the dashboard out of position, which could be extra stiff in older cars.     

If you mess with it a little and it doesn’t come out, you might want to reconsider replacing it on your own. In this case, you may want to see your article on the average cost for head unit installation.

TIP: Dash may be difficult to remove so a Car Trim Removal Tool may be useful in helping this. 

2. Fit and Mounting Problems

The most common problem you will run into is buying a radio that will not fit into your dashboard. It is extremely important that you look and measure your dash before purchasing a radio.

Most stereos fit universally in cars, some older cars are not typically installed with new stereos so you should make sure it fits and won’t look goofy. The mounting kit is necessary for putting your radio in the dash, so you will need to make sure you pick the right size for your dash and radio.

ipad being used as a head unit
Consider how it will look and fit in and around your dash

3. Wiring a New Radio

Wiring your new radio will be the most intricate part of replacing the unit in your older car. If you have never replaced your unit before, the wires can be worn down and hard to tell apart. 

This part can be made much easier for you with the purchase of a wiring harness. The wiring harness makes it so you can just plug into the factory harness and avoid messing with the old wires at all. You’ll need to find a compatible wiring harness for your vehicle.  

It may also take a long time to install a car radio especially if it’s an older car. See our article on How Long Does it Take to Install a Car Radio for more information. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, it should not be difficult to install a car stereo in older cars such as yours, but this will depend on the make and model of your vehicle and the stereo you wish to install. There are many useful resources online to show you how to install a car stereo, with Youtube being one of the best as you’ll be able to visually see the process. 

 

Ultimately, if you’re considered about how hard it may be to install a stereo in your car you should consult a professional in your local area, either a garage or major retailer such as Best Buy or Halfords.  

Alex
Alex

I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system!

Founder
StereoUpgrade.com

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