Exactly one week and a day ago, Jen bought a new 2006 Ford Escape. Yesterday we took out the factory radio (audiophile 300, 6 CD in dash changer) and put in her JVC MP3 player. There are many reasons, but the major one was that it didn’t play MP3 CD’s…and there is no AUX input. Oh sure…there’s an AUX button…but there’s no simple way to interface to it. And anyone that uses an FM modulator is just desperate or dumb. Sorry, but they do suck….
It always shocks me how there is never enough information on the internet about simple little things like this. Perhaps I’m the only one interested in doing this stuff and documenting it for others to use.
So here’s a basic walkthrough (with pictures…oh amazing!) oh how to do it. Of course I’m assuming some things, like I don’t have to tell you the right end of the screwdriver to hold and such. The real trick of the install was integrating the new stereo to the factory installed subwoofer and amp. Which, honestly, turned out to be pretty simple. Now, for the past few years, they used to call this setup the MACH system apparently, but now it’s called the Audiophile 300. Either way, the real catch is the wiring harness size. I tried to find a local source, but neither Circuit City or Best Buy had any in stock. So I ordered it online from crutchfield.com.
- Wiring harness
- Install kit
- DIN Tool
Just for the hell of it (because I had a coupon that only counted over $50 bucks) I finally ordered a set of DIN tools. What do you do if you don’t have them? Same thing I’ve been doing for the past 5 years….either 4 precision screwdrivers…or take a coat hanger and cut it up.
Either way…here’s a pic of the dash and back of the radio when I took it out. The middle pic is the din tools.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the wiring harness. There’s a few caveats about the secondary smaller harness (for the subwoofer).
1. Not all wires on it are used…only the top row. So the remote turn on lead for the bottom row (and the right RCA channel for that matter) isn’t used.
2. Most after market radios put out 12v+ for the remote turn on lead. Now some tests with a multimeter told me that ford doesn’t do that, they only use 6v+. So after calling crutchfield, they confirmed that it is occasionally an issue that causes “popping” when the radio turns on in the subwoofer. Um…no thanks.
So the next step was to figure out what to do. Russ/Crutchfield said they do have a recommended procedure of using a 12 to 5v transister. I’ve also heard talk about just slapping a 1K resistor on it…but I decided to go with the sure bet simply because it is the best way to do it and for a 1.50 I can’t really complain (besided I needed more heat shrink tubing from radio shack). So I bought a 12v to 5v transistor from Radio Shack. Once I got it, I did some tests to make sure it was what I needed, and everything seemed to work out so I wired it up. In the pics Red = 12v +, Black = Ground, and Yellow = 5v +.

Since that’s been sorted out, everything else is basically match up the color’s from the stereo to the wiring harness. God these things are so much simpler than back in the 90′s. It’s all so brainless now, it only took me 45 minutes to do the whole damn thing. Here’s what I started out with:

And here’s the final output:

One interesting thing about all my wiring is that I don’t use crimps or solder. I don’t believe, and never have that crimps work well, and solder…we’ll i’ve soldered a lot in my life and have all different tools for doing it in car’s and such. But i’ve found an easier way that I’ve been using for at least 5 years with not one single problem. I twist them, and shrink them. I take two wires, strip a 1/4″ off them, hold them like an X with the center being where both wires meet the insulation. Then I twist them opposite directions around each other, and heat shrink when done. Let me show you:

Anyways, do it any way you choose….not like there’s gonna be a lack of space in the dash. So the next step is slap the enclosure kit into the hole and install the radio. Honestly, it’s a real freakin’ tight fit…I had a bit of struggle with the top clips, but other than that it’s simple. No screws or bolts really (aside from the one screw on the back guide rail. Couldn’t be much simpler really…

There you have it, everything else is cake if you’ve ever installed a radio. The output looks like this:

And there you have it. I found the subwoofer a little underpowered once I actually had a head unit in there capable of controlling it…but hey it works and Jen’s happy now that she can listen to MP3′s again.

18 Responses to “2006 Ford Escape: How to replace the stereo”

  1. So Makes sense…but what do you do to get the aftermarket enclosure back out? Say if you want to add a aux connection?

  2. There we go !!
    i knew Dennis could not wait too long to Upgrade the Radio.
    Looks much better than the Stock radio
    Now all thats needed is the DVD Player and Custom PS2 installation

  3. I found this page while searching how to use my factory amp with my after market head unit and I think I have the transistor wired up correct. But the picture isnt clear on what the pos and neg go to. could you please specify what they run to? this seems to be the only place on the internet with the same goal as me that has a good write up.

  4. It’s pretty clear if you know what to look for. Black in the middle is negative (ground), the red on the left of that is 12v + switched (from the wiring harness) and the yellow is the 5v+ out that you run to the ford harness so your sub doesn’t pop.

    The popping comes from when you just chuck the 12+ switched right into the sub.

  5. Ok I got ya. I just didnt want to blow it up.

  6. iam trying to do this for my wife in her 05 ford escpe. I seee that the factory amp is set up to run out of the RCA jacks from the aftermarket HU The problem is my wife has an aftermarket sub system fom her old car she wants hooked up. Should I just bypass the other plug and hook the aftermarket sb system up? If I do this will it make a difference in the other speakers because I have heard that the stock amp runs power to more than just the sub? If I do ned the stock amp hooked up for the rest of my speakers is there a way to run the stock amp and an aftemarket amp or woud that be too much?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give e on this.

    • well the simple thing to do would be to cut power to the sub and see if you still have audio out the speakers. If so then there’s no worry to disabling the build in sub and putting an aftermarket in.

  7. Do you need a heatsink with the voltage regulator? Does the voltage regulator get hot?

    • we sold the car a year ago, but in the 4 years we never needed a heat sink. You could add one if you wanted too but it would 99% be overkill.

      • Thankyou for posting this article and for answering my question. I ran out to Radio Shack during lunch today and bought the voltage regular and I did opt for a heatsink. Soldered, wired, and installed during the remainder of my lunch break and fired it up and it totally eliminated the “popping” I was getting from my speaker when the factory amp for the sub would power up. Great write up! Thank you so much.

  8. I followed your steps including the transister and it worked perfectly! For us newbies, it would help to explain how the wires soldered to the transister are connected to the harness/stereo wires. I zoomed in on your picture and did the following: the blue power wire on the subwoofer harness takes the output (+5V) wire of the transister (yellow in the photo). The negative wire on the subwoofer harness is unused. The hot lead of the transister (red in the photo) is joined to the pre-amp power wire of the stereo. The negative wire from the transister (black in the photo) is joined to the black wire on the harness, which is also attached to the black wire of the stereo. That’s the part that wasn’t clear to me.

    Another thing that caused me issues was the install kit I purchased did not have a way to attach the track guide to the bottom of the kit. That meant I had to put the stereo on the bottom so I could attach the guide to the back of the stereo.

    Thanks for this great post!

  9. OK So I purchased a CX501 aftermarket stereo, its wiring harness matched up wire for wire with the Larger Ford oned that I needed to purchase. For the small ford harness that goes to the Amp (same as your picture above) I have two blue/white wires and two RCAs. My stereo wiring diagram said the blue and white was the ampliefer turn-on lead, so from the new HU the blue/white wire has connected to it a blue/white from the large harness and two from the smaller amp harness. When I power on the system my amp pops, but seems to function fine. What should I do? How did you distinguish between the two blue/white wires on the amp harness. . Please help.

    • I didn’t distinguish between them because I only needed to use one, all you need is a single 6v power source (instead of the default 12v most stereos put out…which causes the popping).

      Just pick the same blue/white I did in this picture:

      The yellow wire is 5v out of the transistor….the red is 12v into the transistor and ground is….well ground. Dropping the voltage from 12v to 5v is what stops the popping.

  10. Thank you for the clear instructions on this install; they were extremely helpful! I ended up using the 1K resistor (1 Watt) in line with the amp turn on wire only because I had one handy and it worked perfectly.

  11. Okay, so i installed all the correct wires but my stock sub is still not working. On the smaller harness i found no use for some of the wires. Am i overlooking something?
    In lamest terms seeing as how i’m not the best at understanding car audio terms. Colors of wires perhaps?

    • On the smaller harness all you need really is to use one of the blue “remote turn on” leads. Then you just connect the RCA plugs up to the subwoofer outputs on your new Head Unit. Some head units don’t come with the subwoofer output enabled for default. So make sure you check the HU to make sure it’s turned on.

  12. I’m amazed that you don’t solder or splice… you must have orangatan strength fingers! I bet that radio is working a lot harder than it would need to…

    • lol, well I don’t know about that but yeah even I’m surprised this works. I’ve been doing it this way for about 10 years with no issues thus far. If I had time I’d try some tests to measure resistance but alas I lack time.

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