In the Beginning There Were Head Units

on 17 October 2010
Created: 17 October 2010

Every so often we have to travel back to the basics of installations to welcome and satisfy the new readers of PAS magazine. So over the next few articles we will be covering the basics of day to day mobile electronics installations. In this article we will be starting with the installation of a headunit. A headunit is one of the most important parts of any system; if you have a cheap headunit you have a cheap sounding system. It doesn’t matter how much money you throw into the rest of the system it will only be a good as the source (Head Unit). During this article we will be installing a headunit into a 2005 Civic Coupe. The H.U. we will be a Kenwood double din touch screen that has been moved from vehicle to vehicle over that last 2 years.

Step 1

If a customer brings you a radio or if you are installing a radio for a friend you should always check to make sure the unit is working prior to beginning the install. A lot of shops charge for this test but it can save you in the long run especially if the unit is bad. Once the unit checks out it ok to begin the install, for this vehicle we used Metra kit 99-7865 and Metra Harness 70-1721. We also had to order another harness for the Kenwood unit. Also installed was a I-Pod auxiliary interface for Axxess.

 Step 2

When installing a new radio into a customer’s vehicle it is good practice to mark down all the programmed radio stations from the current headunit. You should also make sure that there aren’t any CD’s still in the unit before removing power.

Step 3

For the Honda we had to remove the center console to access the screws holding the factory radio in. Almost in every installation you will be removing panel and screws it is very important to keep the screws in bin that are labeled for the area of the vehicle you are taking apart. When storing the factory panels you should never slide the panels under the vehicle or lay them face down on the ground, panels should always be stored in a safe area way form the work being done.

Step 4

Once the radio was unscrewed from its mounts the entire bezel pulled out of the vehicle. It is common among vehicles today that when the radio is removed the HVAC controls, A/C ducts and other buttons that control the cars major functions come with it leaving a big hole in the dash.

Step 5

The factory radio was then removed from its brackets and the aftermarket was set in its place, when mounting a radio you should always use 8mm screws to attach the brackets to the radio, anything longer and you will run the risk of damaging the unit.

Step 6

The double DIN kit for the Honda was a snap in trim ring that fits into the factory opening with out any modifications for the factory bezel. However it is common to have a Single DIN trim going across the center of the Double DIN kit just incase you need to install two single DIN units. For this install we have no use for this piece, so it was cut out with a razor knife. A good trick when installing kits is to use a Sharpie on any areas of the kit that have become discolorations due to cutting the plastics. Once the marker is applied use your thumb and rub the marked area until it is blended. You don’t want to leave the marked area to dry before rubbing it or you will see the difference in the shade of black.

Step 7

For this install we had to replace the old Kenwood harness that had been beaten up over the last two years. When ordering a harness from any manufacture you should always check to make sure that the harness wire locations match the original harness provided by the manufacture of the radio.

Step 8

Soldiering is the best electrical connection and the proper way to install a headunit. During this step all of the wires were striped back about ½” and twisted together. Heat shrink was slid on to the wires prior to twisting the wires together. Solider was then applied and the heat shrink was slid over the soldier joint and shrunk using an open flame. The harness was then taped in two locations to hold the wires together.

Step 9

During the final steps is reinstalling the headunit and before anything is put back together you should make sure that the unit is working. Be aware that all plugs must be plugged back into the factory equipment before turning the ignition on. If a plug is missed it can cause a check engine light or an airbag light to come on and stay on until the vehicles system is reset. Now that everything works the vehicle can be put back together pull the screws from the labeled bins and make sure you have no left over screws.  The final step is to program the customer preset radio stations and set the clock.

Remember doing it right the first time will always save time.

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