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Jeep TJ Stereo Install

Author: Quadna71

In this write-up I'm removing my factory tapedeck and installing an aftermarket CD/MP3 player - the Kenwood KDC-MP919.

Here are the basics for replacing the factory stereo with an aftermarket CD player in your TJ.

Items needed:

**WARNING** unless otherwise directed, disconnect the negative battery terminal
during the entire installation process. **WARNING**

1. Starting the wire harness
The best route to go is to purchase an OEM wiring adapter for your Jeep. This will keep you from having to cut off the factory stereo connector. In the future, you may want to sell the Jeep (for a different one, of course) and then you could put the factory stereo back in. These adapters can be purchased from any car stereo store for about $15. Both the adapter and the new stereo will come with a diagram showing what each colored wire is and what it's supposed to be connected to. Slowly twist connect each wire on the adapter to it's partner on your new stereo harness and then cover it with a piece of electrical tape. This is just temporary so you can verify that it's connected properly.

temporary wiring harness
Temporary wiring harness

2. Disassembling the dash
First off, you must remove the dash upper trim panel. This panel just clips into place. Use your fingers to grab it at the far front left or right corner and gently pull up until it pops out of it's clip. Work your way down the panel pulling it out of the clips as you go. You can just leave it lifted up and laying against the windshield or remove it all together. The dash center trim panel is removed by unscrewing the two screws that hold the top of the panel to the top of the dash. Once these two screws are removed you can slowly pull the panel away starting at the top. This panel uses the same style of clips as the upper trip panel so you'll feel them popping off as you go - there are a total of 4 clips.

lifted Jeep dash panel
Lifted Panel

top of panel
Top of panel

top of dash
Top of dash

3. Removing the factory stereo
The factory stereo is held in place by four screws in the front and one nut in the back. The screws are in plain site but the nut is a little more difficult to get to. The easiest way is to swing the climate control panel out of the way. Remove the screws holding it in place and then disconnect the two connectors for the left and center control knobs. Leave the right one connected as it has all the vacuum lines going to it. You should be able to swing it down and out of the way so that you can reach into the dash under the stereo. Now, you will need the 10mm 1/4" drive socket and ratchet for removing the nut from the theft deterrent bar. You'll have to feel around to find the nut - of the three holes in the theft deterrent bracket, the nut is in the farthest hole to the right. Loosen and remove this nut and the stereo will be free of it's mounts. Disconnect the antenna and the factory wiring harness and remove the stereo completely.

Hidden stereo nut
The hidden nut

Jeep climate control panel
Swing down the climate control panel

theft deterent bar
Theft deterrent bar

4. Testing your new stereo and it's harness
Take you new stereo and connect the harness to it's connector in the back. Now connect the other end of the OEM adapter to the factory harness's connector. Reconnect your battery and turn your ignition to accessory. You should be able to operate the stereo and all the speakers should be working too. If everything works as it should, turn off the ignition and disconnect your negative battery terminal again.

5. Permanently connecting your wire harness
Since you are satisfied that you have everything connected properly, you'll want to set up the harness for a more permanent installation. Before you start soldering wires, cut all of them to the same length on both of the separate harnesses. This will make it much more compact and easier to tuck behind the stereo into your dash. I grouped everything accordingly - I would slip a piece of heat shrink tubing over two wires (such as the negative and positive wires for the left front speaker) and then another piece of each wire individually. After soldering each connection, shrink the tubing over the connection. After both wires are soldered and insulated with the tubing, slide that first piece over the two connections and shrink that together. It makes the harness much neater when it's finished. You can see that by making all the wires the same length and then grouping them together it kept the harness very clean and uncluttered.

Slide the first piece of shrink tubing over the two connections
Slide the first piece of tubing over the two connections

finished wiring harness
Finished wiring harness

Finished wiring harness
This is what the wiring harness will look like when you're finished

6. Mounting the stereo to the faceplate adapter
The faceplate adapter is what you mount the stereo within. It keeps the stereo from bouncing around while it's sitting in your dash. Keep in mind - the sturdier it's mounted in this adapter, the less likely of having your CD's skip. I purchased the faceplate adapter at my local car stereo store for around $15 - just tell them what year and model of jeep you have and they should have it in stock. The directions with these adapters are pretty thorough - just position the stereo into the brackets and attach it with the provided screws. Make sure you use the screws that came with the adapter. They are designed to be just the right length. Screws longer than those provided may thread into the stereo's chassis too far and damage sensitive electronics or mechanical linkage. **I neglected to take shots of the stereo at this stage - but when I install my amp next week I’ll take shots while the stereo is out again and post them accordingly**

7. Final installation of your new stereo
Connect your new wiring harness to the stereo and then to the factory stereo connector. Next connect your antenna plug to the back of the stereo. Gently tuck all the wires to the side and/or below the area where the stereo will slide back into. Once the wires are clear, slowly slide the stereo into the dash. Take care to watch the wiring harness to ensure it doesn't get jammed or pinched behind the stereo. Once it is sitting flush, install the 4 screws into the front of the faceplate adapter to hold the stereo tightly against the dash. At this time you can reinstall the climate control panel. Connect the two connectors that were disconnected earlier and remount the panel with the two screws.

8. Reassembling the dash
Reassembly is the reverse of removal. Start by lining up the top of the dash center panel with it's two holes at the top of the dash. Then slowly press the panel into place allowing the four clips to seat themselves. The panel will sit flush with no noticeable gaps around the stereo faceplate, the climate control panel, and the sides of the panel. Next install the dash upper trim panel. Start by seating one end into a mounting clip first. After one clip has popped into place, work your way back down the panel seating the remaining clips until the panel is nice and flush.

Jeep Stereo Panel
The panel should be sitting flush

9. Time to sit back and enjoy your handiwork
Reconnect the negative battery terminal and try out your new stereo. It's guaranteed to sound better than the factory stereo that you just removed! later...


Installed Jeep TJ Stereo

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