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Replacement Radio/Car Stereo For My Jeep Liberty 2003    

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

For 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.

After 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 I failed.

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 price. I 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 Jeep Liberty Antenna Adaptorantenna...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 Jeep Liberty Wiring Harnesslots 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 called "Stereo 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.

use a spatula to remove your old jeep radio coverNext 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 and pulling.

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.

install bluetooth microphone for pioneer radio in visorYou'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.

Pioneer Stereo Car Receiver With Bluetooth Streaming and CD

5/5 Good Radio From Pioneer!

Very big improvement in sound quality, even from the factory speakers. Installation went smoothly!


Last updated May 21, 2014

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