How tough is it to replace a car radio

and would we be utterly mad to attempt it ourselves?

Around here (DC metro) pretty much the only place to go is Best Buy. Their website is completely inaccurate regarding which radios even fit. Only 3 out of hundreds admitted they worked with our car. I went to and input my model (2006 Honda CRV) and got a bunch of hits right away (including one that BB claimed wouldn’t work).

There are a handful of independent shops but the online reviews can be pretty scathing.

I’d rather buy from Crutchfield - the site is soooo much more helpful and I’d have a lot more confidence that I was buying the right stuff. But if we did that, we’d either have to install ourselves, or find someone to do it.

Would we (not car-savvy… I have replaced fuses and that’s about all) be completely insane to try this?

Forgot to mention: the existing radio is original equipment. It doesn’t even have an aux input for external devices (an iPod input is mandatory on whatever we replace it with).

It’s usually pretty easy, but some cars are harder than others. If you can find the correct stereo-to-harness connector, it will make your life much easier, since it’s then just a matter of mounting the stereo and plugging it in.

It’s apparently one of the simpler radios to get at these days.

Two screws hold the trim in place, then four screws hold the radio.


If you get it from Crutchfield, they’ll include the necessary adapter plugs, plus, they’ve already sorted out units that may be too deep or otherwise unable to fit properly.

Plus they’ll send you vehicle specific instructions and they have a top-notch customer service line that can give you assistance if you run into problems.

I have a 2006 CRV and replaced the radio myself. The radio replacement itself was ridiculously easy.

Thanks, everyone!

I did some more noodling around Crutchfield’s website and found they do have a way to get professional installation - 60 or 70 bucks gets you a prepaid install card, and then you can get a list of shops that take that as payment. There are a number of them not too far from here.

I’ll look at my car today and see if I see the screws visible on that installerworld site.

To complicate things, my car has steering wheel controls and I’ll want to get the extra adapter to keep those still working. A friend had hers replaced recently by a shop and they didn’t even suggest that option, even though she bought it there. She was dumbfounded when I mentioned that there were adapters available for that purpose.

On our last cars, I replaced the radios myself (from crutchfield) having never done it before, in less than 1/2 an hour. I know nothing about car wiring. It was a cinch.

Did you buy any of the special tools they offer such as trim removal tools?

I’m really torn on this. I’m very appreciative of the whole “you can do it yourself, but a pro can do it in a tenth of the time” scenario - having been bitten by that a few times. So I’m nervous :).

Me too. Mostly cause I’m really cheap and I don’t want to pay someone to do something I can do myself.

I’ve been wanting to get a new car stereo so I can plug in my ipod for the last six months. I have an '04 Corolla and it seems like it’ll be a real pain in the rear to do it so I may just bite the bullet and have it installed.

I’ve replaced the radio on several of my cars. I’m pretty much a klutz, so it’s not impossible, but it can be a real PITA.

I’ve never seen a Honda CRV setup, but you usually wind up with one of two setups:

A) Take off the trim, remove the screws (or pop the bracket) that hold the unit in place, and slide everything out.

B) Take the trim, remove the screws/bracket, discover there’s something also holding the unit in on its back side, lay on your back trying to get to it, finally get it out, start to slide the unit out and discover that the wiring harness is so short that you have to get on your back again and try to shove your fingers up there to unplug it so you can slide the unit out, then run out and try to find an extension for the harness so you can plug in the new unit.

I would really, REALLY suggest that you spend 15 minutes or so taking the trim off and seeing if you can take out the unit. If you can get to it, then installing a new unit shouldn’t be any harder than replacing a fuse. But if you have any trouble getting to the old unit, you’re going to have 10 times as much when you try to install the new unit.

I got a new car radio for Christmas. It’s still sitting on the shelf in my bedroom, and there is a tangle of wires hanging out of the dashboard of my car. You are probably handier than me, since, I don’t know how to replace a fuse, but neither of my go-to handy people are confident about installing it either.

No, the only tool required, IIRC, was a screwdriver.

A couple of related questions:

  1. The unit I’m looking at (and all of them, really) have an optional cable for the iPod connection. It’s 30 dollars.

Aside from being black instead of white, it looks EXACTLY like the ones I use all over the place for computer connectivity. Are there any differences? Are these longer for running behind the units to another location in the car (glove box or whatever)?

  1. The one I’m looking at has built-in bluetooth. I assume there’s a cable that will attach to a microphone for voice controls - how does that work, installation-wise? I guess they must have to run it from behind the unit to some place near the steering wheel?

  2. I might as well get an HD tuner while I’m at it - it’s a separate unit (only a handful of higher-end units have the built-in HD). Where does that go?

I have a 2005 CRV, and it is very easy to get the radio in and out… check out for detailed information…

Quick update: I ordered a setup last night from Crutchfield - CD/bluetooth unit, iPod cable, HD tuner, steering wheel control… and I chickened out and ordered the prepaid install as well. I’d probably feel better about doing a replacement later on if this one dies, once the initial harness etc. are in place. For now, I figured it was worth having a pro do the deed.

My SO and my dad both replaced the radios on cars. Both of them are completely OCD about these sorts of things, so they did well - very precise and all that. It took them both hours (again, because they insisted on being so careful and cleaning every bit as they came in contact with it).

Myself, i would totally hire a pro. I do not have any patience.

Good call. I did the opposite and took a stab at installing it myself. I got it on there but it was a real pain in the rear. I didn’t order from Crutchfield and after looking at their website, that was mistake number one. If I loose my mind and tried to do it again, I will order from them though.

Yeah - their price for the radio was the same as at Best Buy, though it included the harness etc. that BB charges extra for. so there’s 20-30 bucks savings right there. Installation might have been less through BB, or not… since I also had the HD and bluetooth to deal with.

The installer also had the task of running the bluetooth connector up one of the pillars so it’s about forehead level - I’d assumed it would have a visible cable but that’s hidden. So the higher install fee was worth it just for that; I couldn’t have done that myself. Also they charged me an extra 99 bucks for the steering wheel control install (though they didn’t charge extra for the HD portion).

And they did a good job with running the iPod cable into a cubby just below the heating vents. I’d been hoping they could do that, and when I cleared it out in preparation, saw that the back of the cubby had a punchout panel presumably for just that eventuality.

Bottom line: I’m glad I went pro. It would have taken me quite a bit longer, and there were things I couldn’t have done as well as they did.

As I understand it, future radio replacements would be quite a bit easier since the wiring is already done (it looks like the wiring harness makes future swapouts more “plug and play”). I could be wrong about that, of course!