Want to upgrade the audio system of your car?
Component speakers have one of the best dynamic sound outputs out there. These speakers use separate woofers, tweeters, and crossovers to create an immersive sound experience. The individual components give the user freedom in where to place and aim each one.
Installing component speakers to your vehicle is a tricky project. But our simplified guide is here to lead you through every step of the installation process.
Materials and Tools Needed
Installing component speakers requires hefty preparation and planning.
Gathering all the tools and materials beforehand is best to make the installation a straightforward procedure. You can find all of these items in any nearby hardware store.
- Socket Wrench
- Torx Driver and Bits
- Electric Drill and Bits
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Flat Blade Screwdriver
- Allen Wrenches
- Soldering Iron
- Wire Cutters
- Utility Knife
- Wire Stripper
- Panel Tool or Putty Knives
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Heat Gun
- Heat Shrink Tubing
- Wire Ties
Possible Component Speaker Locations
Vehicles commonly come with set locations for their factory car audio system.
It is ideal to choose these factory locations since it requires little to no modification. Consider placing your component speaker parts in the following areas before planning customized ones.
Locations for the Woofer
The woofer is responsible for producing low-frequency sounds.
Many vehicles have factory speakers in the doors, dash, and kick panels. Woofers can easily fit in those locations with little to no modification. If any additional changes are needed, it is usually just an extra screw hole, cutting small areas, or filling the panel.
Locations for the Tweeter
The tweeter is responsible for producing high-frequency sounds.
Speaker manufacturers recommend keeping the tweeter within a 12-inch radius of the woofer.
Doing this prevents “phase interference” or sonic wave cancellation. Phase interference happens when the woofer and tweeter frequencies arrive at the lister at different times. Keep this distance in mind when planning the location of the tweeter.
Vehicles rarely come with a factory tweeter mount.
Most people choose doors, kick panels, the dash, or the sail to install the tweeter. Tweeter installation requires more modifications than woofers, but the number of changes depends on the chosen location.
There are two commonly preferred mounting methods for the woofer:
- Mounting to Surfaces
- Mounting to the Dash or Panel
We’ll go into detail about these mounting methods later on.
Locations for the Crossover
The crossover is responsible for sending the proper frequencies to the woofer and tweeter.
Finding the right location for the crossover can be challenging. Place the crossover away from any moving parts of the vehicle. Keep the crossover away from exposure to water and heavily vibrating objects.
Most people choose to mount crossovers under seats or on the car display. Other convenient locations are behind the mounting panel near the speakers, on the doors, and behind the kick panels. It’s better to put the crossover near the speaker to make the wiring process more manageable and reduce unwanted noise.
Preparing for the Installation
Make the installation process easier by planning the locations of the components and wires.
Below is a simplified component speaker wiring diagram that shows the connections of the woofer (sometimes called the midrange), tweeter, and crossover.
The two colored wires connecting from the crossover to the outside of the wiring diagram are the incoming speaker wire from the vehicle. Consider each wire connection’s location when planning your component speaker installation. Ensure wires connect to and from each component with little to no interference.
There’s no need to rush. Understand the component speaker wiring diagram before diving into the actual installation.
Main Speaker Wirings
The factory speaker wire of your vehicle will effectively power up the ordinary component speaker systems.
Running new speaker wires is necessary for external amplifiers rated at 50 watts RSM or more. Use 14- to 16- gauge wires to run the new speaker system.
Disconnecting the Battery
Always remember to disconnect the battery of your vehicle before doing any modifications.
Find the negative battery cable near the negative battery post, usually a black-colored wire. Loosen the bolt on the clamp using a socket wrench. The battery cable should easily pull away from the connection point.
Mounting the Woofers to Doors
Most vehicle designs have factory speakers attached to the door.
Woofers can typically fit into the factory speaker hole with little modifications. However, you may need to dismantle some door parts to remove the factory speaker and install the new woofer.
Step 1 – Remove the Grille
Carefully pry off the factory speaker grille using a flathead screwdriver.
Generally, there is a small notch in the grill that the vehicle manufacturers leave. The manufacturers use this notch to remove the grille. You should be able to spot it by examining the grille with your hands.
Firmly attached grilles may require unscrewing or aggressive prying to remove them.
Step 2 – Remove the Door Panel
Remove the door panel to gain access to the factory speaker.
Remove the window crank (if there is one) by unscrewing the pivot and securing it.
Some models are attached using a spring clip. If this is the case, then remove it using a flathead screwdriver. Hold down the door panel behind the window crank until the prongs of the clip are seen. Pop the crank off using the screwdriver.
Step 3 – Remove the Armrest and the Rest of the Panel
Remove the armrest by loosening the screws around it.
Most car panels are attached using a combination of screws and friction fittings. Once the screw is removed, pry off the bottom corner of the door panel. Use a panel tool or putty knives to loosen the sides and bottom of the panel.
Once loosened, the panel should only hang from the trim and window well. Lift the trim to remove the door panel fully.
Step 4 – Remove the Old Speaker
Gently pop out the old speaker and detach it from the wire harness.
Some speakers are mounted using sealand foam, so you may need to use the utility knife to cut it off. Keep the factory wire harness. The wire harness will connect the woofer to the crossover before routing it to the main speaker.
Step 5 – Adjust the Hole to Fit the New Speaker
Adjustments are needed if the woofer does not fit precisely into the speaker hole.
If the hole is too narrow or lacks depth, file the speaker opening until it is the right size. Another possible method is to anchor the speaker basket to the hole.
Mounting the Tweeters to Surfaces
Surface-mounting is done when there is insufficient depth to push the speakers inside the dash or door panels fully.
Surface-mounting the tweeters requires minimal modifications and labor. Drill a small hole in the panel to fit in the mounting cup. Attach the cup to the surface using screws to hold the cup and the tweeter. Run the speaker leads to the tweeter.
Mounting the Tweeters to the Dash or Panel
Flush-mounting is when the tweeter is pushed flush against the dash or panel.
Flush-mounting requires more work than surface-mounting since it requires creating a new hole. Drill or cut a hole onto the panel or dash. Ensure that the tweeter will fit snugly into the hole without the risk of it falling off.
Many people prefer flush-mounting due to the non-protruding look of the speaker.
Customized Component Speaker Locations
The factory speaker locations aren’t always the best place for component speakers.
You can choose better locations for speakers to emit sound from. It requires more time and effort, but it is possible to make speaker holes in other parts of the vehicle.
Remove the speaker template and find a surface that can accommodate the woofer size. Ensure that nothing behind the chosen surface will obstruct the speaker. Cut or drill out the speaker hole, then mount the woofer by following the same door mounting steps above.
Placing the Crossover
Find a location to tuck away the crossover safely.
The crossover needs to be housed in a secure place. Like the location for the woofer, it should be away from any moving parts of the vehicle. It should also be secure against vibrations, ensuring it will not be knocked loose during travel. Many vehicle owners prefer to use hollow spaces inside the door panel.
If you think the crossover may get knocked around, it’s best to mount it on the door metal. Wrap the crossover with plastic and tape the openings before mounting it. This prevents moisture from getting inside the crossover.
Installing the Wiring System
Now that all the components are in place, it’s time to wire them together.
Unlike other speakers, the crossover of a component speaker is external. All the wires from the receiver must first be connected to the receiver. After that, individually connect it to the woofers and tweeters. If you’re planning to connect an amplifier, connect it to the receiver first before connecting it to the crossover.
If you’re unsure about the connection point of each wire, then consult the simplified wiring diagram shown earlier.
A more detailed amp wiring diagram of the connection between the tweeter and woofer is shown below. Use both the amp wiring diagram and component speaker wiring diagram as references when connecting the wiring system of the speaker.
Most cars have a rubber boot that connects the door and car body.
The rubber boot protects the door wires that connect to the dash. The speaker wires can be stashed away in the rubber boot to keep the wiring clean and connected. Use the boot as a channel to run the speaker wires off the door, below the kick panel, and then to the receiver.
Test the System Before Reassembly
Test the car audio system before reassembling the removed components.
Loosely return the door panel to the door without the window crank. Hold the speaker in the new hole and mark where the screw holes should go. Remove the speaker and create the screw holes using the drill.
Pull the wire harness from the door and attach it to the speaker. The terminal used for positive and negative connections should not matter as long as the connections are consistent. Then, attach the speaker to the door. If you feel that screws do not hold the speaker in place, use “speed clips” (usually provided with the speaker) for additional support.
Play a few tunes through the speaker and check the resulting sound quality. If there isn’t any problem, reattach the door panel and other removed components.
Cars are tricky things to modify due to their complexity.
The design of a vehicle varies significantly between manufacturers. Chances are, the instructions above may not entirely work for your vehicle. You may need to make extra modifications, such as new wire holes and cutting through metal parts to make it work.
Creating Wire Holes
New wire holes are necessary if your vehicle does not have a rubber boot.
Find a location for the hole that has access to the speaker location. Ensure that the wires are not pinched or pulled when the door is opened and closed. Drill a 5/8-inches hole in the chosen location. Remove sharp edges by filling it down or covering it with a rubber grommet, electrical tape, or flexible tubing.
String the wire through the hole and clean up all the debris.
Cutting Through Metal Parts
A lot of beginners ask how exactly they should cut through metal.
Jigsaws are generally used for cutting through large areas.
The problem with using a jigsaw is finding a large hole to fit it in. Depending on the vehicle’s design, you may find pre-existing usable holes. If not, you’ll have to create one by drilling through the metal.
It is best to use a hacksaw to cut through smaller areas.
Never cut the door panel and the metal at the same time. This can destroy the panel covering. Instead, keep the saw from scratching the metal by wrapping the base of the saw with electrical tape. (1)
Always wear proper protective equipment when doing any cutting. Never cut through metal without eye protection as metal pieces may fly towards you when cutting. (2)
Take a look at some of our related articles below.
(1) door panel – https://www.bobvila.com/articles/types-of-doors/
(2) protective equipment – https://ehs.princeton.edu/book/export/html/76
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