A new head unit is installed in the middle of your centre console area. This is where your existing stereo radio is; once removed, it will reveal a large gap.
Installing a new head unit in your vehicle can make everything easier, from a better sound system to a better navigation system.
However, for this to happen, you first need to install a head unit in your vehicle. But, where to install a head unit? Read on.
You’ll need to install a head unit in the vehicle’s dashboard. This is also known as the centre console, where all buttons and displays are for most of the car’s functions
As you can see in the picture, your generic manufacture head unit or stereo is usually in the middle of the car between the front two passenger seats on the dash area.
There are a few ways that exiting stereos can be removed to reveal the position where you can install the new head unit. The method will depend on the type of car you own.
The first of which (usually in older cars) requires pins or keys inserted in specific slots in the stereo.
The manufacture head unit stereo usually is a solid unit and can be easily removed with Keys (Or DIY without).
Alternatively, the stereo can be unscrewed if that is an option in your vehicle, where parts of the dash will be pried away to reveal the gap for the new head unit to be installed.
Note: Some car stereo faceplates are interchangeable
Stereo Removal Key / Pin Method
The first method is key removal of the stereo, which ideally requires keys or pins inserted in at the stereo and allows you to seamlessly pull out the stereo unit, revealing the gap where you can install a new head unit.
Watch the YouTube video below to see a stereo being removed using keys for a Ford KA. The type of key you require will depend on your vehicle. Halfords sell universal pins for Ford, Peugeot, Rover, Renault and Vauxhall.
If you don’t have stereo removal keys or pins, we have an article on removing a stereo without keys.
Screw Head Unit Removal Method
Most newer cars will not have a key slot to remove the stereo but will instead be screwed into position. In order to reach the stereo screws, you’ll typically need to pry the dash loose or use a combination of unscrewing and prying the dashboard away.
Watch the video below to see the stereo being removed from a truck by prying away a large part of the dashboard:
After you’ve removed the existing head unit or stereo there’ll be a significant gap in the centre console where the head unit will have to be fitted as this is where all the existing wiring and radio equipment is designed to be routed too.
The gap should almost always fit any type of head unit, such as a double-DIN, but see our size guide: Standard head unit sizes guide for detailed measurements.
Rule of thumb:
- Single DIN: 2 inches (51mm) x 7 inches (178mm)
- Double DIN: 4 inches (102mm) x 7 inches (178mm)
Ford KA Example Location
When installing a head unit, it will be installed in much the same place in most cars. In this example, we’ll be looking at a 2007 Ford KA, which is getting a new single din head unit.
In the Ford KA instance, the vehicle has key slots that can be inserted to remove the head unit from the dashboard area, leaving a large gap for your new head unit to be placed in.
Most cars have a gap wide enough for all stereo sizes, but you should check it will fit beforehand. A single-DIN which is just 2 inches (51mm), will almost certainly fit in all cars, with a fascia kit needed to be installed to fill the void between the stereo and the rest of the dash. It’ll look a bit wonky without a fascia kit.
The process is likely to be much the same for your vehicle. Youtube is an excellent resource for finding videos on the old stereo being removed from your vehicle. Chances are they’ll be a video of a head unit being replaced in your model of car, so you’ll easily be able to spot where to install a head unit in your vehicle.
As we’ve discussed, the location where the head unit can be installed is almost always in the middle of the dash between the driver and front passenger.
To gain access to the gap where the new head unit can be installed, you’ll have to remove the old one. This is done via a couple of methods, such as using a stereo removal key (if applicable) or prying the dashboard away to reveal the screws to take the existing stereo out.
The gap is likely to fit most aftermarket head units, but you should measure the size before purchasing. If you want to see a video of a stereo being replaced for your exact vehicle we recommend looking this up on Youtube, but here is some example we’ve found for you for top car models:
2013 – 2014 Ford F150: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le_804ncfPc
Chevrolet Silverado: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvcHTfN0Vfw
Dodge Ram: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuPANZl4_po
2006 – 2012 Toyota Rav4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1qjgee8RN0
Honda CRV 2001 – 2006: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfTCrFd7jhA
Toyota Camry 2002 – 2006: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIGVG3_BYBI