How to Change a Stereo In a Mercury Sable

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Lets face it: factory radios just don't appeal to you if you like in-depth sound customization and audio control. Stock amps aren't adjustable and adjustments on the radio are limited at best. If you own a 2000-to-2005 Mercury Sable, you've noticed that the radio and air-conditioning controls are all one assembly. Whats even more interesting is the actual brain for your radio is stashed away in the trunk as part of the OEM amplifier. Because of this, you to run a new wiring harness from the new radio in the dash back to the brain and amplifier.

Warning

    • If you own a 2004 or 2005 Sable, you also have a button on the radio assembly to disable the passenger side airbag. No manufacturer offers an install  kit that includes this button. If you intend to install an after market stereo, you must modify part of the circuity of the SRS system. Failure to do so will disable the SRS system and illuminate the SRS light on the instrument cluster. Without the necessary modification, the airbags will not deploy in the event of an accident.

    • This modification will void any warranty you may have on your Sable.
    • To prevent accidental deployment of one or more airbags, do not attempt the modification until the battery has been disconnected for at least 5 minutes. 

Things You'll Need

  • Battery wrench
  • Wire coat hangar ( or Radio Removing Tool, No. 415-001)
  • Sheers
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Heatshrink butt connectors
  • Pliers
  • Wire trimmers
  • Metra install kit No. 99-5717 (Manual A/C)
  • Metra install kit No. 99-5719 (Electronic A/C)
  • Zip strips
  • Torx driver kit
  • 2 vampire taps
  • 10,000 Ohm resistor

Stock Radio Removal

Step 1: Disconnect the negative battery cable

Open the hood and secure it in the upright position with the prop rod. Loosen the negative battery cable, using a battery wrench, then remove the cable from the battery. Lay the cable to the side of the battery so that it cannot come into contact with the negative battery terminal.

Step 2: Make a radio removal tool

Unbend a metal coat hangar and snip off two six-inch sections with a pair of sheers. Bend each section in the middle so that it forms the letter "U."

Step 3: Remove the radio

Slide the two U-shaped removal tools into the four square holes on the radio face. Press outward on the tools lightly, then pull toward you to remove the radio. Disconnect the wiring harnesses from the radio and remove it from the vehicle.

Wiring Harness Installation

You kit comes with a wiring harness extension and an antenna extension that you have to run from your aftermarket radio harness back to the speaker wire harness in the trunk.

Step 1: Remove the driver side kick panel, Knee bolster and door sill trim

Pull outward on the kick panel to disengage the retaining clips. Set the kick panel aside. Remove the two screws for the knee bolster, using a nut driver, then remove the knee bolster.

Tip

  • The knee bolster is the finish panel that is directly in front of your knees when you sit in the driver seat. It has a hole that the OBD-II diagnostic plug protrudes from, and hides the lower end of the steering column from sight.

Open both driver-side doors, and pull upward on the door sill trim plates to disengage the retaining clips and remove them.

Tip

  • If you cannot get the clips to disengage by hand, wrap the tip of a flat-head screwdriver with masking tape and gently pry the panels free with the screwdriver.

Step 2: Access the brain box in the trunk

Open the trunk. Remove the four plastic retainers that secure the trunk liner to that side of the trunk. There is one under the rear deck, one on the quarter panel, and two by the taillight assembly. Pull the liner toward the center of the storage area. The brain box has two wiring harnesses and an antenna wire.

Step 3: Run the harness and antenna wire

Disconnect the wiring harness from the brain box and plug it into the harness extension. Do the same for the antenna wire. Push the opposite ends of the extension harness and antenna wire between the seat cushion and seat back.

Tip

  • To make routing the extension harness and antenna extension easier, tape the ends of the harness and antenna wire together. It will prevent unnecessary bending of the wires, and allows you to run both wires at the same time.

Step 4: Hide the wires inside the car

Lay the extension harness and antenna wire along the driver side floor board from the rear seat all the way to the kick panel. Start at the rear door and arrange the wires so they will sit under the sill plates, but will not cover up the holes for the retaining clips. Press fit the rear sill plate into place and ensure you cannot see the wires, then do the same for the front sill plate. The should be no slack in the extension harness or antenna extension.

Warning

  • While there should be no slack, do not pull the wires excessively tight, or it could damage the wiring, creating the potential for the harness to short out and catch fire.

Tip

  • Some years had a small wiring harness already hidden under the sill plates. For ease of installation, use zip strips to secure the extension harness and antenna extension to the existing harness.

Guide the wiring harness upward into the dash and zip strip the harness to the existing harness that was hidden by the kick panel. Press fit the kick panel into place.

Step 5: Route the extensions to the center of the dash

Route the wiring along the lower frame of the dash. Zip strip the harness to the frame right by the fuse box, and right at the center of the dash. Reach your hand through the opening for the radio and pull the end of the harness into position. Install the knee bolster and tighten the screws.

Installing the Radio and Making the Connection

Before you can install the radio, you have to mate the aftermarket radio harness to the extension harness. By now you've probably noticed there isn't a switched power, continuous power or ground wire in the extension harness. These three wires are part of the dash kit, that replaces the stock radio assembly.

Step 1: Connect the speaker wires

Remove the wiring harness from your aftermarket radio. Trim back one inch of insulation from each wire, then install a heatshrink butt connector on each wire -- including the power and ground wires. Squeeze that end of the butt connectors to secure the wires inside of them. Trim back one inch of insulation on all of the extension harness wires. Match each colored wire from the extension harness with each of the speaker wires on the after market harness and slide them into the butt connectors. Squeeze that end of each butt connector to secure the wires. Shrink the insulation on the butt connectors with a lighter, or heat gun, then secure them all together with a zip strip.

Tip

  • Regular butt connectors will work for this step, if that is all you have available, but the heatshrink style connectors are recommended, as they seal the wire joints to help protect them from moisture.

Step 2: Transfer the switches from the stock radio to the new dash kit

If you have manual A/C controls, turn the knobs so that they are in the vertical position. Pull on each of the knobs to remove them. Turn the radio assembly over, and remove the screws that secure the switches to the radio. Transfer these switches to the new dash kit and snug the screws. Press the knobs onto their respective switches and turn them all counterclockwise to the "Off," "Cold" and "Low" position.

Step 3: Transfer the mounting clips from the stock radio assembly

There is a mounting clip on each side of the stock radio - these are what hold the assembly in place inside the dash. Remove the Torx screws, then remove the clips from the stock radio assembly. Install the clips on the new dash kit and snug the screws.

Step 4: Install the aftermarket radio cage

Remove the mounting cage from the aftermarket radio and slide it into the new dash kit from the front. Bend the taps on the top and bottom of the cage so that the cage is held tight to the kit.

Tip

  • Push upward or downward on the tabs from inside the cage, then use a flat-head screwdriver to help bend them the rest of the way.

Step 5: Make power and ground connections

Trim an inch of insulation from the red, yellow and black wires that are attached to the dash kit. Connect those to the red, yellow and black wires on the aftermarket radio harness. Crimp the butt connectors with pliers and shrink the insulation on the butt connectors.

Step 6: Install the dash kit and radio into the dash

Hold the new dash kit up to the opening in the dash. Connect all of the stock wiring harnesses to the kit. Guide the aftermarket radio harness and the antenna wire through the cage. Press fit the dash kit into the dash. Connect the wiring harness and antenna wire to the aftermarket radio, then slide the radio into the cage. Listen for a clicking noise and the radio seats in the cage, then give the radio a gentle tug to make sure it is locked in place.

Step 7: Complete the SRS circuit modification

Warning

  • Do not attempt this step if the battery hasn't been disconnected for at least 5 minutes.

If you have a 2000-to-2003 Sable proceed to the next step. If you have a 2004 or 2005 Sable, locate the brown wire with a blue stripe and the red wire with a yellow stripe at the brain box. Clamp a vampire tap to the brown and blue wire, as well as one end of a 10,000 Ohm resistor. Connect the other end of the resistor to the red and yellow wire with a vampire tap. Squeeze the taps tightly to make sure they are closed and secure.

Step 8: Install the trunk lining

Unfold the trunk liner and align the holes in it with the holes in the trunk. Push the plastic retainers through the holes to secure the trunk liner - the retainers will sit almost flush with the liner when properly installed.

Step 9: Connect the battery

Connect the negative battery cable to the negative battery terminal and snug the bolt. If you have a small torque wrench, torque the bolt to 13 foot-pounds. Shut the hood.

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