Replacement Radio/Car Stereo For My Jeep
Read about my experience purchasing and installing a new car
receiver head (Pioneer DEH-p8400bh) - Part 1 (Part 2)
By Eron Cohen
Part 1: Purchasing and Installing The Radio
my birthday this year, I decided to get myself a new car radio
for my Jeep Liberty. I am not much of an audiophile,
but the factory radio wasn't meeting my needs anymore and
the CD player was starting to falter. What I really wanted
was something that could handle blue tooth audio so that
I could connect to my phone and make calls using a built-in
microphone and my car speakers to listen and speak during
a call. I also wanted the ability to stream music/audio books
from my phone so I wouldn't have to burn CDs anymore. As
a plus I wanted to find something with HD Radio--and at the
time I thought I didn't really care about having a USB port
on the radio (it turns out that this is one of the best features).
I went to Best Buy and spoke with one of their representatives.. He
said that the Pioneer and Alpine Radios were the best choices
for my price Range ($150-200) and would meet my requirements
for blue tooth streaming. He did not recommend the Sonys, JVC
or Kenwood brand radios. Basically he didn't think they had
the best choices or reliability when it came to bluetooth streaming.
considering the choices Best Buy had, I decided I would probably
purchase the Pioneer DEH-P8400BH for
$169. I just wanted to do a little bit more research (like
you are now). Before I left the store, I asked how much installation
would cost. It was $122 with parts. On the one hand, I was
happy to pay to have the thing installed properly, but on the
other hand that would push me way over the budget I had in
mind. I started to wonder about installing it myself.
After checking with another local installation shop, and finding
a similar price to Best Buy, I decided to give installing the
radio myself a go. I figured that as long as I was careful
not to short anything out, I could always take the car to the
independent shop and pay their price to get it done right if
The radio I decided to purchase was a step up from the Pioneer
I had seen at Best Buy-- Pioneer
DEH-P9400BH CD Receiver . It had more features and it was
the same price...in fact, there were stores selling for up
to $100 more than what I paid, so I feel I got a pretty good
found it on Amazon. Most of the reviews were pretty good. It
sounded like a very nice radio...and if I could do the installation
myself, then I really had a bargain.
The instructions below will pretty much guide you for installing
any radio in most of the Jeep Liberty cars, but you'll have to
just make sure you get the right parts to fit your radio--probably
the ones I mention will work though.
Along with the radio, I purchased a few other items that were
necessary for the installation:
- An antenna adaptor. This allows you to easily connect the
new radio to your car's antenna...basically, once you disconnect
the old radio from your car's antenna, this connector would
allow you to connect to that wire to the new radio with the
right sized jack. This adaptor cost $5.71 on Amazon and was
sold through a company called Audio Connections with the title
Stereo ANTENNA Harness Jeep Liberty 02 03 04 05 AFTERMARKET
STEREO / RADIO ANTENNA ADAPTOR.
- A wiring harness adaptor. This is really important--it
will save you lots of time and increase the reliability of
your new sound system installation. When you disconnect your
factory radio, there is a jack with lots
of wires going into your radio. These wires are going to the
power source (ie-the car's battery), speakers, electric antenna,
etc. When you get an adaptor, you will be able to plug that
old jack into the adaptor. From there, you will need to connect
together the right wires from the new radio to the wires on
your adaptor (which in turn connect to the car itself). This
is probably the most difficult and crucial part of the installation...finding
which wires go to which speaker, is the trickiest thing of
all. Don't worry though, that's not as bad as it sounds. The
wiring harness I got was $4.52 on Amazon from a company called
CarXTC. It was well labeled and came with prestripped wires.
Definitely turned out to be a good choice. On Amazon it was
Wire Harness OEM Jeep Liberty 02 03 04 05"
Each wire had what it went to stamped on it, so when you are
connecting wires together it makes it that much easier to be
sure you're connecting the right ones together.
- A dashboard installation adaptor--this is basically what holds your radio
in place in the dashboard. I got one from Metra on Amazon for $12.21, however
I am not completely happy with it. There was at least one other brand, you
should probably go with the other one. The one I got was "Metra 99-6505
Chry/Dodge/Jeep 98-UP with Pocket Dash Kit". My issue with it is that
the install is just slightly off and it makes it difficult to remove the faceplate
from the radio and put in/remove CDs from the CD player. Please note that the
problem is likely my fault, but the fix isn't obvious to me--at some point
I will probably pull the radio out again and have another look, but for now, I
am happy with my system.
- Wiring nuts and electrical tape. You can get these at Home Depot or online...this
is to connect the wires from the radio to the wiring harness. You could solder
instead if you know how to do it. The point is to make a reliable connection
that won't pull apart over time. If you don't know how to use wire nuts, you
can find videos about that on youtube.com. The gist of it is to strip the wires, twist
the wires together and then put the wiring nut on to hold it in place (I take
the additional step of wrapping electrical tape around the wire and wire nut
to make extra sure they aren't going anywhere.
WARNING: Please do the next parts at your own risk.
You, your car and your new radio are possible casualties if you mess this up...if
you're careful and know a few things, you'll be fine though. Just use your
head. I am not responsible if you try this and something goes wrong. Again
the most important thing is just to make sure the ground wire (black) and positive
wire (red) are connected the right way AND that no two wires that aren't supposed
to touch don't touch...and that unused wires are wrapped up so that they don't
accidently touch a car part and short something out.
Once you have all the parts, its time to install. It took me about 2 hours
to do it. Although I think I could do it faster next time. Most of the time
was spent connecting the wires together.
First thing you need to do is to remove the negative terminal from your car's
battery. be very careful about this--if you don't know what you're doing, don't
do this yourself. It needs to be done to prevent messing up the radio with
a power surge.
you pull off the "cover" from your console. Do
this by unscrewing a screw that is either behind the ashtray (if you have one)
or where the ashtray would have gone if you don't--right next to the cigarette
lighter. Once that screw was off, I used a plastic spatula from my kitchen
to gently pry open the cover. The point of the spatula is just that its something
gentle that won't scratch up your car's parts when you insert it. The whole
thing will kind of pop out. Once it was pulled away, I had to disconnect the
wiring from the air conditioning controls...this is pretty easy because they
have two or three of their own little harnesses that disconnect by squeezing
Next you just unscrew the old radio. There will be four phillips head screws
holding the radio in place. When they are out, just gently pull the radio forward. You'll
see the old wiring attached to the back. Pull out the antenna and the wiring
harness and put the old radio aside (I am holding onto mine, but I am not sure
why--I doubt its worth anything...I guess maybe if I sell the car and want
to keep the new radio I could switch them back)
Next I had to connect together about 20 wires. Its crucial that you get this
right--especially the positive and ground wires.(I know I am repeating myself,
but this is really crucial) The speakers are important too, but messing up
the speaker wiring will affect the sound quality and can be fixed...messing
up the power wires can lead to a ruined radio or a messed up car. The wires
on your harness and labeled and meant to match the colors on your radio's wires.
I definitely ran into a few wires that I wasn't sure what to do with, and in
fact, there were a few "extras" which
I just capped off and taped so they wouldn't get in the way (an example would
be the power antenna wire--I don't have one so I didn't need the wire for that).
There is help for matching up wires on the internet if you get into trouble.
The manual that comes with the radio is some help too.
ModifiedLife.com has some wiring diagrams and lists that might help you. Here
is one for the Jeep Liberty 2003.
You're going to need to install the microphone. The obvious place is to run
it over to the driver's side door going underneath the steering wheel (important:
make sure its secure so it doesn't come out and interfere with your driving).
If you open the drivers side door, there is a panel to the left of the steering
wheel (see illustration) where the fusebox is--I pulled that off and ran the
mic wire through there and then then stuffed it into the side panel's rubber
gasket (its the part with the "plastic handle" that you might use when you're
getting into the car) with a screwdriver so that you can bring it up to the
driver's side visor where you can clip it in place. The clip seems to hold
it very nicely on the visor and so far, that seems to be a very good position
for acoustics in the car. On the other end, the microphone just plugs into
the radio on the back. The give you plenty of extra wire if you want to be
more creative with the routing or final positioning of the mic wire.
Once the wires are connected, you're ready to finish installing your new car
radio. Connect the harness to the old wires and the other
side to the radio. Connect the antenna adaptor and plug it into the radio too.
Next put together the dashboard adaptor. I used the DIN installation method.
The Pioneer radio comes with a sleeve already attached to it. You need to
very gently remove the sleeve and attach it to the dashboard installation kit.
Once the kit has been attached (in the case of the one I bought, you need to
bend the right tabs on the metal holder to keep everything in place. The radio
will then slip into place and lock.
Wire back up your a/c to the cover and put it back. Don't forget to replace
the screw near the ashtray/cigarette lighter...Put your car battery negative
back on and you should be ready to test. Hopefully it will just work.
For a review
of the Pioneer Car Stereo itself, continue
to part 2.
Radio From Pioneer!
Very big improvement in sound quality, even
from the factory speakers. Installation went smoothly!