You’ve decided to upgrade your car stereo and then it hits you: the dilemma of car stereo compatibility. There are different sizes of stereo and speakers, and a massive inventory of wiring harnesses and other adapters. Which ones are compatible with your car and which ones do you actually need? We’ll help you narrow down the parts list.
Your first stop should be Metra, the premier car audio installation parts manufacturer. Using their Vehicle Fit Guide you can find every part they list for your vehicle. The list can be large, but you’ll generally only need a few parts of the many that are listed.
Radio Size: Single DIN vs Double DIN
The first thing you’ll likely want to settle on for your car stereo compatibility search is the radio size. Aftermarket radios come in two sizes: single DIN (or 1 DIN) and double DIN (or 2 DIN). DIN is the acronym for Deutsche Industrie Norm, which Germans started using in the 1980s to standardize Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen radios. DIN is the 2” ✕ 8” opening that a radio fits into, and over the years it has become the global standard. Double DIN is the same width, but twice as tall.
If your car can only accept a single DIN radio, you will only see a dash kit (also called a radio install kit) beginning with a model number 99-####. If your car can fit a double DIN radio, you will see a model number 95-####. If your vehicle accepts both single and double DIN radios, you may see both model numbers available. Newer vehicles tend to have double DIN openings, so if you install a single DIN radio into the double DIN opening, a storage pocket will take up the excess space.
The factory wiring harness unplugs from your factory radio via a plug. Your aftermarket radio comes with a wiring harness, but the end that attaches to your car’s factory wiring harness doesn’t have a plug—it’s loose wires. You’ll want to use a Metra wiring harness to connect your new radio to your car. One end of the Metra wiring harness is loose wires that you match up with the loose wires of the radio’s harness. The other end is a plug that connects to your factory wire harness.
NOTE: If your car’s electronics (like navigation or anti-theft) are integrated with the radio in any way, your wiring harness likely includes a data interface box. An Electronic Express associate can guide you to the right parts to ensure car stereo compatibility.
Aftermarket radios use a standardized antenna connection. Many automobile manufacturers use this standard, but a few don’t. If your vehicle needs an antenna adapter, it will be listed under that section. There will be other versions for connecting an aftermarket antenna cable to the factory radio, which isn’t applicable to your installation. An Electronic Express associate can answer any car stereo compatibility questions you may have.
Speaker sizes vary between cars. Common sizes are 6.5, 6✕8, and 6✕9 (measured in inches). If your car uses an odd shaped speaker, there may be a speaker adapter available so that you can install a speaker in one of the more common sizes and have a greater selection to choose from.
Most speakers displayed in the store on the speaker wall will be compatible with your vehicle. However, component speakers (those that include both the woofer and a separate tweeter) often have greater power requirements that require a separate amplifier.
NOTE: If your car has a factory amplified system (such as Bose) there may be additional considerations in choosing a speaker. An Electronic Express associate can answer these and other car stereo compatibility questions.
Some vehicles use connectors to attach the factory speakers to the factory wiring system. If your vehicle uses these then the speaker harnesses will be listed under your vehicle.
Steering Wheel Controls
Most new vehicles have buttons on the steering wheel that control your radio. If you wish to maintain this feature you’ll need to install the “Steering Wheel Control Interface” that’s listed under the available parts for your car.
Electronic Express professionally installs all car audio components including radios, speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, remote starts, and more. For any car stereo compatibility questions you may have, please ask an Electronic Express associate.