Monday, October 30, 2006

How to Install Car Audio Wires and Cables

SUMMARY: Learn how and why the professionals install their wires for car audio systems!

How to install your wiring, and make it a.) Invisible, or b.) Nice to look at:

Alrightee! So, you're off to installing all of the big-time components to your stereo system. I know you really really really want to skip the boring parts (like running wires), and go straight to installing the components, and turning on your system. Nnnnnno!

Like I have said countless times before, we're here to do a QUALITY stereo install. Not some janky, lame-o quickie job. We're installing a stereo for the life of your vehicle, and as such, we spend a little extra time to do things properly. Sooooo, when it comes to wiring, we need to think about how we want to do things first.

To re-cap. Do you know what components you'll be installing? Even if you don't have all of the components now, hopefully you know what your plans are. This allows you to run all of the wires, so when you finally get your components, you can just mount them, and hook up the wires, and you're ready to rock.

Don't be stupid like most people, and think of components first, THEN think about how to install them. Think of how to install components, get the install parts, THEN install the components. DUH!!! By the way, you'll save time and money with this approach.

Was that a long enough introduction? OK, let's get into what you should know about wiring!

First, buy all of the wiring that you think you'll need, and some extra just for safety. Don't worry, your money won't be wasted!

Next, disassemble your vehicle in the places where the wiring will be run. When I say disassemble, I mean it! Pull out seats, carpet, panels, everything! Trust me, this will make running wires easier and safer.

If you plan to use any sort of sound insulation or damping material, now is the time to lay it. If you don't plan on using it, why not? This will make your system sound better by lowering noise, and by eliminating vibrations. Just do it!

Now, you get to run wires. Run them everywhere they'll be needed. Run power wires, RCA wires, speaker wires, interface wires, remote turn on wires. EVERYTHING.

Now that they're laid out how you want and need them, it's time to secure them. Vehicle manufacturers use ties everywhere to keep wires organized and out of the way. Now it's your turn! Many many many people skip this step, and I don't think it's too smart.


Because when wires are subjected to vibrations, stress, weather, and other things that are constantly present in vehicles, they tend to wear away. When wires wear away, you get...

Short circuits!
Vehicle fires!
Ruined components!

Don't risk it, just secure your wires!

If you have amp racks or other items that your wiring will go through, it's time to mount those items, and secure the wiring to them.

OK, OK. Those are the basic steps you'll go through to run wires. But, how do you actually do it? Let's break it down:

1.) Measure distances between where components will be mounted, and what they connect to. For example, measure from the battery to where you'll mount your amp. Also, don't be stupid. Buy a few extra feet at each end, so you'll have room for error. Also, you'll want to make sure none of the wires are stretched. You want to have some slack at each end. This will make your life much easier.

Other distances to measure:

  • Head unit to amp
  • Amp to speakers
  • Head unit to cd/dvd changer, mp3 player, navigation system, etc.
Also, before you buy your wires, be sure you know what will work best with your planned components. If you're planning to install a 500 watt amp, and you know that amp will be 17' from the battery, use a chart to figure out what wire guage to use. People like to get all loco in the cabeza with power wire, and spend $5 a foot on 0 guage wire. WHY??? If you don't need it, don't buy it!

2.) OK, so you have all of your wiring in hand, and ready to go. Now is the time to take apart parts of your vehicle. First, figure out where your wires will be run. I usually run my power wire on the same side of the vehicle as the battery. I also usually run my RCA cables down the center of the vehicle. Knowing this information will tell you where you need to remove parts from your vehicle. If you're not going to be running wires in a certain part of your vehicle, then it won't be necessary to take anything apart. UNLESS!! UNLESS!!! UNLESS!!!! You plan to put some sound damping material down. I always recommend this!

So, here we go. Time for the fun part. First things first. Disconnect the ground (aka negative) wire from the battery.

Pull up panels! I highly recommend some sort of panel removal tool to remove panels. This will help protect your panels from breaking.

3.) Time to run wires!

First, we'll run the power cable: Find a hole in the firewall of your vehicle. If you can't find a hole, you might be able to squeeze a power cable through the far corner of your hood, by the windshield and into your vehicle that way. If you can't do that, then you'll have to drill. Every car is different, but one piece of advice is always true: Plan ahead, and be careful! Inspect where you plan to drill the hole, and be sure you won't damage anything in the process. Take it slow, or if you're feeling really nervous, drive your vehicle to a stereo shop, and have them run your power wire through the firewall. Next, run the cable wherever it will fit nicely, and not be visible once you put the carpet back in place. Run it all the way to your trunk (or wherever you plan to have your amp or distribution blocks mounted). Next, secure the cable. Use zip ties, or glue, or even velcro to make sure your power cable stays where it should. Be sure it is not near any moving parts, or rubbing on anything that will strip the insulation. Also, be sure it will not get in the way of anything once you re-install all of the panels, carpet, etc.

Next, let's run your RCA cable(s), interface cables and Remote turn on wire. Again, be sure the negative cable is disconnected from the battery. Disassemble any and all of the panels surrounding your head unit. Pull your head unit out. Next, pull up all of the panels, consoles and carpet around where you'll be running your RCA cable and interface cable. Connect the remote turn-on wire to your head unit's wiring harness. If you are planning to connect more than one or two devices to your head unit's remote turn-on, you will want to look into installing a relay. Next, run the RCA cables, interface cable and remote turn-on. All of the stuff I said earlier about power cables is also true of RCA and interface cables. Be sure your cable is not near any moving parts, it is not rubbing against anything that will strip the insulation, and it is mounted in such a way that it will not show once the panels and carpet are put back in place. Connect the RCA cables to the pre-outs on your head unit, and be sure you know which RCA cable goes to which channel on your amp. Many RCA cables use color-coding, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Plug in your interface cable. Now, re-install your head unit. Make sure everything is all hooked up before you put everything back together!!

OK, last step. Let's run speaker wire! This is exactly like running all of the other wires above. Pull up the panels. Run the wires. Be mindful of where you plan to run them. Secure them. Make sure you have a few extra feet at each end of the speaker cable. I know this sounds stupid, but trust me. It's more stupid to spend all of this time running wire only to discover that it's too short. Then, you have to pull the wire up, throw it away, then run it all over again. DUMB!

4.) Secure wires!

Now that your wires are run, it's time to secure them. There are many ways to secure wires, and not all of them will work at all times. In fact, you'll probably need to use a variety of methods to secure your wires throughout your vehicle. Soooooo....

1.) Secure wires with zip ties to other bundles of wires.

2.) Secure wires with zip ties to small holes (or create small holes)

3.) Use glue to secure zip ties to your vehicle, then secure the wires with them.

4.) Run wires behind objects that they can be secured to.

5.) Use velcro to secure wires

6.) Secure wires to mounting locations (amp racks, speaker pods, etc)

If you have any sort of custom enclosure or rack for your stereo components, you'll want to find a way to secure your wires to the rack or enclosure. If these racks or enclosures are designed to be seen, you might want to take some time making the wires visible, and looking good.

In the example of amp racks, you can drill holes where all of the electrical connections go into the amp. Run the wires through these holes, and to your amp. This trick will make your wires look nice and clean, and keep your wires organized.

For speaker enclosures, there are a variety of things you can do to make the wires look good. For plexiglass subwoofer enclosures, people often choose wire that looks good. In addition, top installers will choose wire hardware (terminals) that are of high quality, and look good. If you want your enclosure to be removable, you can install speaker terminals on the outside of the enclosure, or even install a custom quick-release wiring harness.

By Alan Bayer

Car Stereo Cookbook (TAB Electronics Technician Library S.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fix It Yourself Automotive - Remember The Safety Rules

By Tyrone O. Lindsay

SUMMARY: Fix It Yourself Automotive people are basically common sense people. They don't mind the dirt and the grime that comes with fixing their own automobile. As a matter of fact, they enjoy a sense of pride and accomplishment when they have fixed their vehicle and it’s purring down the highway with no problems.

Fix It Yourself Automotive people are basically common sense people. They don’t mind the dirt and the grime that comes with fixing their own automobile.

As a matter of fact, they enjoy a sense of pride and accomplishment when they have fixed their vehicle and it’s purring down the highway with no problems.

They always take a common sense approach because you can get seriously hurt working on your vehicle, especially if you don’t obey the safety rules. These are some of the work-on-your-own-car safety rules.

• The exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide. A poisonous gas. Your working space must be well ventilated.

• Working on your car battery? It contains sulfuric acid. It burns and can explode. Please, no smoking around car batteries. Disconnect them also, you can get a nasty shock. Remove the ground cable to disconnect (-).

• Watch out for the hot parts. Know them well. Exhaust pipes, manifolds and mufflers will burn you badly.

• Absolutely no loose clothing around moving parts. Take your jewelry off. Do you have long hair? Tie it up. Do not work in sandals, they’re for the beach. Put your work boots on.

• Use proper equipment for hoisting and for holding up the car. Are you going under the car? Use the appropriate equipment to stabilize the car while in an upright position. The equipment must be able to support the weight of your car.

• Wipe up oil spills immediately. You’ll avoid slipping and hurting yourself later.

These are a few of the safety rules. There are so many more to observe. If you’re going to fix it yourself, let’s be sensible about it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Speakers For Our Car Audio System - Is Bigger Better

By Allison Thompson

SUMMARY: An article which explains why choosing the right speakers for your car audio system is important.

You are now considering purchasing new speakers for your car and there are a number of things that should be thought about in order that you make the best choice possible. It is crucial that when looking to purchase speakers for your car you go with a clear idea and plan of what it is you intend to buy. It does not naturally follow that the bigger the speakers the better they are.

In fact you may find that when purchasing your speakers they may cost more than you intended and it is wise not to purchase ones which have numerous features which you won’t actually use. It is sensible to remember that the highest quality audio speakers available for your car will cost more than a lot of others, but in general these are worth the extra cost. However, if you do decide that big speakers are what you want then make sure the ones you purchase have a brand name that can be depended upon and ensure that they will provide you with crystal clear sound at all times.

Today there are 2 kinds of basic car stereo speakers available on the market and these are component or full range speakers. Both have their own pros and cons. However, if you are looking to replace the factory installed speakers already in your car with the minimum of fuss then you should no look no further than full range speakers (consisting of a tweeter and woofer, you may even find some come equipped with a midrange or super tweeter as well). These styles of speakers also come in a varying range of sizes and prices.

But then again as previously discussed if you are looking for bigger car speakers to install then you should be considering a component speaker set. Not only do component speakers give you the best possible sound quality for your money because of their superior design and each component has been specifically designed to complement each other. Certainly big speakers can be a part of any component system as long as you make sure that you have all the necessary components for their installation.

A component system is especially good for those people looking for a serious stereo speaker system for their car. This sound system will not only provide you with greater depth of sound but also a much realistic one as well. The exceptional dynamics and detailed sound provided by such a system is because of the higher standard of materials that have been used which will not normally be found in a full range speaker system.

However, when it comes to which are better, small or big car speakers, this cannot be easily answered. Even if you prefer to install big speakers in your car they will not always provide you with the best sound and you will soon see just how many different shapes and sizes of speakers there are now available. But rather than deciding on big or small speakers for your car it is much wiser to invest in a good quality car audio system instead.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Checking Your Car

By Kum Martin

Here’s the low down on checking out the used car that you have finally set your eyes on. Take a look at the following points before you decide to take it out on a test drive.

Lean down and look down the side of the car – check for dents and dimples.
Check the bumper cars for scratches and look at the wheel hubs for dents and scratches.

Is the car too shiny? This may mean that the car dealer or seller or trying to hide something. This also implies to the engine bay, an engine bay should be slightly dusty and have grime on it. If the engine is sparkling clean you can be sure that the car has oil or coolant leaks.

Take your hand and run it under every door panel, under the wheel-arches and check the bumper edges. These are the likely areas where rust will first appear.

Check the tires on the car. Check not only the thread, also check to see if the tires are original or retreads. Uneven wear is a telltale sign of suspension problems.

Does the interior smell? Smoke smell will have smoke stains on the fabrics and the smell will be embedded in the ventilation filters. A musty smell may indicate water leakage.

How does the seat upholstery, pedals and console wear look? Does it look appropriate to the car’s mileage?

Press every button on the console and make sure the function works. Listen for any rattles in the console and ventilation fans. Turn off the engine then switch it to AC to check the engine and onboard computer warning lamps are working properly.

Turn on the hazard lamps, headlamps and press the brake pedal. Ask your friend to inspect the exterior lighting to ensure that all are working properly – especially the brake lamps.

Now take the car on a test drive. Listen intently, look at the warning lamps, feel the steering and handling, sniff for any smells – open the window and listen for engines ticks, rattles or fluid smells that may come for the warming engine bay.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Classics of world tuning: Dodge Challenger

Classics of world tuning. Dodge Challenger it is the car a legend. Car is very similar on Ford Mustang, it and is not surprising, they have started to be made approximately in one time. Here it is concrete at this car there is an engine in volume of 6 litres and capacity of 425 horsepowers.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How to Pay for Emergency Car Repairs

By Andrew Dillan

Your car has broken down, and now you need to pay for towing, and repairs. Sometimes these repairs cost unexpected hundreds or thousands of dollars. What are your options?

1. Be Prepared

The best way to avoid an emergency is to be prepared for an emergency. If you can set aside a little bit of money each month in case of any emergency (be it medical, automotive, or accident), then you will be able to manage any unexpected situations. However, if the time has come and you haven’t planned ahead, there are still some ways that you can get money.

2. Stay Calm

One of the most common mistakes that is made during emergencies is to lose your cool. If you lose your cool, you might forget to use common sense. Use your common sense to shop around. Even if you need a tow right now, consider calling a few places for quotes before having them send someone over. The ten minutes that it takes you to make some comparisons might save you twenty dollars or more. That makes the use of time well worth your money. Remember, you will be late anyway, so take your time in getting there.

When the tow truck driver arrives, be sure that you know where you want to have your car towed. You should also do some comparison shopping for this. You can even call a friend and have them make some of your phone calls for you. If you don’t know what is wrong with your car, have it taken to a mechanic or dealership that you trust. They will tell you what’s wrong, and you then be able to decide how much (it might be all) of the work you want to have done.

3. Review your Options

When you buy a car, you often get a warranty. You might be signed up for AAA or CAA. Your insurance company might cover some of the repairs needed for your car. Before you go about paying for all of the repairs out of pocket, find out what repairs are covered. Then get approval from the institution that will help you pay. It is easier to get them to pay upfront than to get them to reimburse you.

Consider keeping a membership for CAA or AAA. This means that you will have free towing if you are ever in an accident or if you ever have a breakdown. There is an annual fee, so you would have to weigh the pros and cons of membership. I, personally, find that I have gotten a lot back from my membership, including a peace of mind knowing that I am covered while I travel.

4. What NOT to do

If you need to pay for your emergency repairs, do not get a pay day loan. Pay day loans have exorbitant interest rates and will make it hard for you to get back on top of your debt.

5. Get the best interest

Find out where you will be able to get the best interest rates for the money that you will have to spend. If you take out a loan, then you will be able to pay it back in small pieces throughout the year, rather than taking an upfront loss. This also works if you cannot pay for your car.

If you put the car repairs on your credit card, remember that you will probably be paying a higher interest rate than if you got a car repair loan, or if you went to a bank or credit union. Check the interest rates that varying places offer, including at the dealership if you are having your car repaired there.

6. In the meantime

While your car is in the shop, be smart about how you get around. Don’t take taxis everywhere if you can’t afford them! Ask friends for lifts; they will understand if you are in need because of unexpected car repairs for a few days. Take the bus for a few days. Walk or bike, if possible. Set up a temporary carpool with a co-worker (this could even work for you when you get your car back!). Don’t let the expense of car repairs get larger because you don’t have your car.