Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to install a car stereo in a 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i

The stock radio in these cars aren't exactly hi fidelity. Don't matter what model - hatch, sedan, premium model or limited - serious lack of hi car didn't even have tweeters in the dash. Subaru ran the wires and gave me speaker grills....but no bastards (I knew I should have bought more than the BASE model!)

This is my personal car. Mods include removing some badging on the trunk lid so it just says "Subaru Impreza" and installing an STi Rear anti roll bar and links. Otherwise it is stock and stealthy.

Anyway, I did install the tweeters ( the Kicker upgrade ) the same week I bought the car. Why I didn't order some from Crutchfield; I don't know. Guess I wanted the instant gratification of spending more money over at the Subaru parts counter. The sound was much better with some tweeters....finally. However....the stereo would barely keep up with road noise. Almost always the volume would be at MAX. What to do?

At first I planned on keeping the stock head unit and just replace speakers. Well I started to read some forum posts. Mostly a bunch of wieners or tools are on the forums. However, the basic theme was that the head unit sucked and that needed to be replaced. So being the cheap bastard that I am....I would forgo upgrading the door speakers and first see (listen to) the results. Glad I did. The head unit is the weak link. I replaced mine with a  Double DIN JVC unit for $179.00 from Crutchfield. Eventually I will replace the door speakers, but the new JVC unit really woke up the stock speakers. Now I actually have base, treble, and a strong mid range......who would think? Now my car stereo sounds BETTER than the stock stereo in the 2002 VW I traded in for the Subaru! The OEM Clarion unit is junk. Confirmed.

I never was worried that I wouldn't be able to install the stereo. I was more worried I might break something in the process. I've installed plenty of stereos in my day...and compared to my buddies...I was like a professional. I ordered stuff from Crutchfield before.....way before there was the internet! So I was happy to see the company doing well and they made it pretty easy. Free shipping and a free install kit and wiring adapter which are compatible with the Subaru Impreza. Nice!

Ok here we go. Pictures tell the story too. If I don't explain something correctly or not to my liking; expect ongoing editing.

This is the JVC head unit as well as wire adapter and install kit I purchased from Crutchfield.

Wire harness after I soldered and heat shrinked the connections. Go to Radio Shack and buy a solder iron and heat shrink.
Start on the left corner (drivers side) to start the prying process. It was the only area that I felt there was some give and sure just started to pop up. The trick it to use a wide thin plastic "wedge" that won't mar the soft dash material. Note that the whole front bezel with vents and heater controls has to come apart. The hazard light connector was a bitch to remove for some reason. Best to push the switch from the back of the bezel out to the front....then remove the electrical connector. More pictures!

The base and premium model Impreza 2.0i's all have a mechanical cable operated heater and AC controls. These cables need to be removed on both the driver and passenger side from the heater box / vent duct controls. Otherwise the front bezel will not be removeable as the cables prevent this. What one wants to do first is look under the dash with a flash light while turning the selector and hot/cold knobs so that the white levers will be noticed. The cables are secured in their mounts. A brisk solid pull will release them and the cable ends should pull off the white levers. This picture shows the passenger side. Be aware this part of the process sucks. It is a pain in the balls.
This is the driver side cable. It was hard to take picture. What I want to warn people is that the heater core it right next to where the cable end has to come off....and it was hot and I burned myself. Be careful. Like I said...this part of the job just sucks. Look first with a flash light and move the selector knobs at the same time so you can see where the cable is connected to the white levers. The cable has to be removed from its mount and that requires a secure hard pull.....have fun. This is the sucky part of the job.
With those heater cables removed it is easy to pull the front dash bezel away and remove the radio. Four philips screws hold the radio from the front. There will be 2 or 3 cables plus the antenna wire that has to be removed from the back of the radio. See the attached wire adapter ready for the new radio. Be advised I have no idea what adapters one would use for steering wheel controls. My car is a base 2012 model. No bluetooth or radio controls on the steering wheel so I have nothing to worry about. Also I don't have a USB in the center console was not available in 2012 on my car.

Stock radio on the left side. Notice the mounting tabs. The install kit will match the placement of those tabs. See next picture.
See the new Radio with the install kit. The tabs will match the stock radio locations....and it will fit perfect. Thank you Crutchfield!
The metal pieces and plastic bezel that are NOT used from the new radio. The simple install kit is used to match the size and mounting points of the stock radio. Notice the wire bundle...that is the Blue Tooth microphone for the new radio.
This is the Scosche install kit used with the 2012 and up Subaru Impreza. Free from Crutchfield when you buy one of their radios over $100...I think.
I had to make this square hole slightly bigger to fit the USB wire/hub that comes out the back of my new JVC Radio. This took just a few minutes. Now the wire comes neatly through this area so I can plug an IPOD in and rest it in my center front console.
Rear USB wire/adapter to plug in an IPOD. The front radio USB will be used for the Blue Tooth adapter.
The Blue Tooth micro phone. Ran the wires under the steering wheel and up the a-pillar to the middle top of windshield and mounted. Neat and out of the way.
Fits perfect and looks professional. Remember to reconnect the cables on the heater box for those with the mechanical controls. This stereo rocks now!
  OK, I am done. Whew! What a job. Thanks to Tom at Classic Subaru of Atlanta for showing me the heater box cables. Thanks to Crutchfield for sending me the right shit to get the job done. Thanks to my upbringing (dad) that I have the knowledge of how to do this stuff.....