Here’s 5 car audio installation mistakes you need to avoid when installing car audio
There are definitely more than 5 car audio installation mistakes that need to be avoided. But these are 5 main ones I can think of that I’ve seen several times.
(These are in no particular order)
1. Car Audio Installation Mistake #1 – Not using speaker adapters
This is probably one of the most common car audio installation mistakes. I’ve seen so many speakers screwed directly into the door panel sheet metal. Admittedly, I use to do this as well.
But it’s lazy and ruins the output of the speakers, and you’ll never hear the full potential of your speakers if you don’t install them properly. In fact, in some cases, a properly installed set of crappy speakers may sound better than a crappily installed set of amazing speakers.
When installing speakers, the bare minimum should be:
- Add some sound deadening to fill in any small holes around the speaker mounting location.
- Use speaker adapters so that the larger holes around the speaker are sealed off. It’s very rare for a speaker hole to be the perfect size for the speaker you are adding. There are several different types of adapters you can possibly use for your application:
- Simple plastic ring like these
- Vehicle specific adapters like these speaker adapters for select GM vehicles
- Full custom adapters like these
- If you make your own, I would recommend against using MDF in door panels. They almost always get damp and swell up/fall apart over time. Use HDPE, ABS, or PVC.
- Add some foam or some sort of sealer (non-messy) around the part of the speaker that sits on the adapter. These fast rings are awesome and come with foam for the speaker mounting area. Foam for behind the speaker on the outer door sking. And foam to seal the speaker to the door panel to decrease the sound bouncing around in the door panel.
2. Mistake #2 – Not using the right connectors
I saw this picture on Facebook the other day:
I hope nobody’s mind needs changing here because it is a terrible idea to use wire nuts for anything in a car.
A car moved and vibrates. A lot. Wire nuts will vibrate loose and can cause some serious problems including fire.
Most of the times I’ve seen wire nuts in a car was when a customer brought their car in for something they installed themselves not working.
You don’t have to get super fancy here. A crimped butt connection works great, and I’ve been using butt connectors with no issues for years.
These are the absolute best crimpers I’ve ever used (and probably the highest rated thing I’ve ever seen on Amazon). I actually use them for more than I should probably. They are my crimpers, wire strippers, cutters, pliers, etc.
The point is, you don’t have to be perfect, but don’t use something that can be dangerous.
3. Mistake #3 – Not making a good ground
Bad grounds can cause a ton of problems and can be hard to troubleshoot sometimes. This is usually the first thing to check when something isn’t working.
In fact, my first ever install was an amp and sub and the amp wouldn’t turn on. Turns out the random bolt I connected my ground to wasn’t very good.
Some good ways to ensure you have a good ground are:
- Scrape off all the paint if you are making a new ground point to the vehicle body.
- Make sure the wire is secure. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just use something that works like these self tapping screws and some lock washers. Many people will argue this is a terrible way to make grounds. Sure it might seem kinda sketchy, but it works fine. I’ve done it plenty of times with no issues.
- Find a factory ground to connect to. Usually this will be a bolt with a bunch of wires grounded run to it for grounds. Just put a ring terminal on your wire and ground to this same bolt.
- Run your wire straight to the battery. As long as you account for the extra length of wire when determining the right size wire to use, this is a great way to ensure you have a good ground. In fact this is almost necessary on the newer aluminum body Ford trucks (but there’s also a couple of factory grounds in these trucks that you can use).
4. Mistake #4 – Not setting amp gains properly
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Check out my How to Install and Tune an Amp post that covers how to set amp gains in the “Tuning” section towards the bottom of the post.
5. Mistake #5 – Not using a fuse
This is probably a little less common on amp power wires because most amp kits come with a fuse.
But every power connection should be fused. Especially if you are running a power wire directly to the battery.
For amp power wires, use the fuse that came with your amp kit or something like this if you didn’t get a full kit. Just be sure to use the right fuse rating for your wire.
For adding a circuit for something smaller, use an inline fuse holder like this. The kit in that link even includes various fuses to use with the holders.
Or an add a circuit that ties directly into your fuse block, but make sure to get the right kind for the type of fuses your car uses.
These add a circuits are great and super easy to use.
Get an assortment of fuses to use with them to match the circuit you’re adding.
So there you have it. Don’t make these mistakes and your car audio installation will become much better if you were ever thinking about doing any of these things.