How to Ground a Car Stereo Using a Harness

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The first modification most people do to their car is add a car stereo. Thanks to new parts on the market such as dash kits and wiring harnesses, installing a stereo has never been easier. Of course, grounding your car stereo through the harness isn't incredibly difficult, but it is necessary to get the stereo properly working. In this case, the project vehicle is a 2001 GMC Sierra pickup, but the process is the same for other vehicles as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Vehicle-specific dash kit
  • Vehicle-specific wiring harness
  • 3 feet of 18-gauge wire
  • GM antenna adapter
  • Aftermarket stereo
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire crimpers
  • Wire strippers
  • Blue butt connectors
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Self-tapping screws
  • Blue ring terminals
  • Drill with Phillips head attachment
  • Place your foot on the brake pedal, put the key in the ignition and turn the key to the "on" position. Shift the transmission lever into the lowest gear, and tilt the steering column to its lowest point at the same time.

  • Pull off the dash bezel that goes around the stereo and gauge cluster. It comes off with a little bit of force from your hands.

  • Place the car back in park and turn off the ignition.

  • Pull out the factory stereo by pushing down on the tabs that secure the deck in place on either side of the stereo with your thumbs. Unplug the factory wiring harness and pull out the antenna lead.

  • Place the cage that comes with the aftermarket stereo into the vehicle-specific dash kit. To secure the cage to the kit, push the tabs inside the cage down using the flathead screwdriver, which presses the cage against the kit.

  • Wire the vehicle-specific wiring harness to the harness that comes with the aftermarket stereo using the wire cutters, wire stripper, wire crimpers and the blue butt connectors. Stereo companies today label and color code each wire, so it's easy to figure out which is which. By crimping each wire to the wire on the other harness using the blue butt connectors, you'll be assured that everything works properly in the end. Do this with every wire but the black wire on the harness.

  • Crimp the 18-gauge wire to the black wire on the harness using the wire crimpers. This is your ground wire.

  • Run the 18-gauge wire to a solid ground on the dashboard. This is a metal point on the dash that you can screw into.

  • Crimp the ring terminal onto the end of the 18-gauge wire using the wire strippers and wire cutters. Then place a self-tapping screw through the terminal and drill it into the metal dashboard section behind the stereo. The stereo is now properly grounded.

  • Connect the radio harness to the stereo through the dash kit. Then clip the antenna adapter to the stock antenna.

  • Push the stereo into the cage until you hear a click. The stereo is now installed in the vehicle. Reassemble the dashboard in the opposite order of disassembly.

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