How to Install Car Speakers
One of the most cost effective upgrades to start with when building a car audio system is upgrading your factory speakers to aftermarket door speakers. Not only do they make the most noticeable impact right off the bat, they can also be very reasonably priced. Most people build their car audio system in stages, so we always recommend starting with door speakers since they can be used with a factory stereo or later connected to an aftermarket head unit or amplifier. We offer a wide range of door speakers for every make and model so we have something that will work for any application. Generally door speakers are easy to install and only require basic hand tools to install them in most vehicles. We are going to look at the difference between factory and aftermarket speakers along with the different type of speakers available.
Factory speaker quality
Why buy aftermarket speakers?
What should I buy?
First why should you consider upgrading your stock speakers? Well to begin with the car manufacturer will always compensate quality to cut costs which is bad news for you. 95% of stock factory speakers only feature a brittle paper cone, a very small magnet, and a thin foam surround. Factory speakers are very limited as far as acoustical quality, and output. So let’s say you have a car that is 7 years old and still has the original factory speakers. With the combination of cheap materials and 7 years of usage those speakers are not going to perform very well. Even after 1 to 2 years, factory speakers start to break down. Keep in mind that even though some factory systems that are advertised as “premium”, these speakers still have plenty of room for improvement.
Now when looking at aftermarket speakers you will immediately notice that they look much more durable. Aftermarket speakers will use a variety of materials for the cone depending on the brand, most brands use materials such as Polypropylene (plastic), Kevlar, and / or other combinations of synthetic materials. They also feature a much more durable and sensitive surround which is traditionally made from a soft rubber or thick foam. One of the best features is the addition of a tweeter found in full range speakers. They are available in two-way (Midbass and Tweeter), three-way (Midbass and 2 Tweeters) or in some cases even 4 or 5-way (Midbass and 3 or 4 tweeters). Another speaker option is component sets; these allow you to separate the mid-bass driver and tweeter to achieve maximum sound quality. When installing a component set the mid bass driver will usually install into the factory speaker spot, the tweeter can be mounted independently either on the dash, in the door panel, or in the headliner. Though component speakers allow better sound quality control, full range speakers can also be mounted into the existing factory speaker opening making them much easier to install.
Every vehicle features a different size speaker, so you need to find the correct replacement. The good news is the actual size of the speakers has been standardized. This means any vehicle will feature one or more of these sizes: 3.5”, 4”, 4x6”, 5.25”, 6.5”, 5x7”, 6x8” or 6x9”. In general import vehicles use 5.25” or 6.5” size. Ford uses 5x7” or 6x8” speakers; however it can vary depending on the vehicle. If you are not sure what size speakers you need for your application you can always contact us via email: email@example.com. Most vehicles will feature two pairs of speakers, normally one pair in the front doors and another pair in the rear doors, or the rear deck. Many times the factory wiring can be reused so you can just disconnect the factory speakers, then simply reconnect the aftermarket speakers.
We are going to take a look at a typical aftermarket speaker installation process for the front doors of a passenger vehicle. This same basic process applies to all vehicles only the method changes. First, we need to remove the door panel. This can be the most intimidating step, however looking closely at the door you will normally see screws or bolts that have to be removed. That is the first step and I have outlined the screw locations on this door panel.
Next we need to examine how else the panel may be attached. This usually means there will be snap clips that hold the panel to the door. These can be popped out using a special clip pry tool or by hand if you firmly but carefully pull outward on the panel. I have circled the pop out clips which are on the back side of the door panel.
Once all the clips are popped you need to check for any additional harnesses or hardware that may still keep the panel in place. On this particular vehicle we had to disconnect the window / door lock switches. Once everything is disconnected the panel can be moved off to the side. Be sure to keep all the hardware together in one place and make notes if needed for reassembly later.
Now that the panel is removed you can see the exposed door skin and speaker. In most cases the speakers will be held into place using screws that have hex heads on them. In this particular vehicle it had 3/16” hex head screws. Remove the screws and from the speaker, be sure to keep them, you will need to reuse them to install your new speakers.
Next let’s take a look at the aftermarket speakers we are installing. Almost all brand name speakers will include a harness with them. This harness plugs onto the aftermarket speaker itself and will look like the image below.
Now we actually need to connect the aftermarket speaker harness to the vehicle. You can actually cut off the factory speaker wire connector and hardwire your new speaker. You will have two wires, one of which is positive and the other negative. The colors will vary depending on the vehicle you will not know which wire is negative and which is positive. We can actually help you with this problem.
If you need to know the colors for you vehicle feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you have that information most speakers will include one of two crimp connector types which we HIGHLY recommend using. DO NOT just tie the wires together and electrical tape over them. This will cause you headaches later on when you have to hunt for electrical shorts. Take your time and make sure you have a good solid connection using either type of the crimp connectors below. These both will hold up a 20 lbs pull on them so they will not come out.
We have finally arrived at the last step. Once the speaker harness is attached to the factory speaker wire the new aftermarket speaker can be screwed into the existing hole. The door panel at this point just needs to be reinstalled using the same method it was removed, you can start the process again on the passenger’s side door. You can see the final installed images below which the same hex screws from the factory speakers were used to install the new speakers.
So what did I use a far as tools during this whole process? Surprisingly only few, a set of wire crimpers, wire strippers, a Phillips screwdriver, and a 3/16” hex bit. My best advice to you is during installations; make sure you have a clean work area, the right tools, and lots of patience. By completing your own car audio install you will be in complete control of the quality, and you will save lots of money.
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