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.