My car isn’t great. A 1994 Mitsubishi Magna TS Executive V6 manual, it is better than some and goes pretty good, within reason. But it’s not great. One of the frustrations I had was the lousy sound system.
The Executive is the base model and as a result, the audio system consists of a radio cassette player (FM and AM) connected to two tiny, buzzy, cardboard 4″ speakers in the dashboard. Higher up models had 6″ speakers in the doors and 6×9″ speakers in the rear parcel shelf, along with a CD player if you bought a Verada.
Thanks to platform sharing, all Magnas have the brackets for those better speakers in the car body, hidden by trim, so if you are brave and willing to cut up your car, an instant sound upgrade is yours for the taking. As I had to run wires from the rear of the car to the back of the dash anyway, I decided to replace the stock radio cassette with a much newer unit.
So I went down to Supercheap, found some nice Panasonic 6×9’s going cheap, bought a JVC KD-G425 MP3 CD player/head unit and then had a good hard think about whether I was going to install it. Those speakers probably sat there for about 6 weeks before I got the courage to cut up my parcel shelf.
But cut it I did. You have to remove the back seat so you get good access to the parcel shelf. I ended up having to measure, mark, cut, fit the speakers, then do it all over again, then trim the carpet some more, but eventually I got the speakers screwed down securely with a (slightly) jagged edge around them. The speakers came with some cable (7m for each side) so I started feeding that down the cable run down the side of the car. After that I had to go out, so I replaced the back seat and took a big deep breath.
A week later I had composed myself enough to try and finish the job. I bought some spade connectors and crimped them onto all the wires that came out of the new stereo. I then finished running the new speaker cable through to the front of the car – I had to remove all the kick guards from the bottom of the door frames, but not a big deal in the end. Once that was at the front I removed the centre console from the car.
This involved about 10 screws in different places and the only complication came with the boot for the gear lever – it is fixed fast to the gear stick and heavily screwed into the console, but without detaching I could not get the console fully out of the way. With that done, I unscrewed the trim from the centre stack and could finally see the radio. I pulled out the bracket and unplugged the radio from the car – I was at last free of cassette tapes and FM radio that didn’t work which the engine was running.
I had to snip off the plug which led from the car to the radio so I could attach my new cables. Aftermarket car audio manufacturers tend to adhere to a standard ping arrangement and plug type but car manufacturers do not, a Holden has a different plug to a Toyota, to a Hyundai etc, which is why I had to snip the plug. I then crimped the matching spade connectors onto the leads coming from the car (including the new rear speaker cables).
Once that was done, I had to match up the colours of the car leads to the colours of the stereo leads – a bit of a challenge. In Mitsubishi’s wiring diagram, the cables manage to change colour when you look at the speaker end (black/white & white) to when you look at the radio end (green and blue). I had to make a couple of corrections but it was mostly plain sailing.
12V battery – always hot, keeps your radio settings and clock set even when the car is off. 12V ignition – active when ignition is at ACC or ON, provides power to run radio. Earth – completes the circuit, attached to chassis, not battery Antenna – connects to radio antenna. Speakers – positive and negative for each speaker – 4 speakers = 8 wires
Once the cables were connected I mounted the JVC head unit in the bracket, plugged in the cables and replaced all the trim I had removed. Reconnected the battery and turned on the ignition – it worked first time! I had left the old, buzzy speakers in place and set the fade level most of the way to the rear, bass is back and volume is now an option, not to mention I can now play a CD in a car I own for the first time ever.
In the end, it wasn’t as difficult as I feared, but I would still hesitate to recommend installing your own car stereo unless you have a car you are willing to damage, or a desire to have a learning experience about cars and stereo equipment. Let me know if you’ve ever done something similar by leaving a comment below.
One regret I have is that the new 2007 model of the stereo I bought comes with an Auxilary input on the front, something that would be most helpful. Maybe on my next car, hey?