How to Install Car Amplifier – Steps Explained

So it’s that time of the year when you are given some time off, and you want to hit the road and unwind. You have missed traveling to the countryside and being away from the urban noise. Is your car in check? Will your car stereo offer you the best sound quality when you turn on the music? You need to check on every detail of the stereo before hitting the road. However, without an amplifier the above is not possible.

One of the best ways to upgrade the stereo system of your car is by installing an amplifier. In this chapter, we shall take you through the steps involved in the installation of a car amplifier. Besides, the opportunity is timely because you will learn a few things about how a stereo works and give you quality sound. The tips will come in handy even in the future if you need a sound upgrade in your car. Also, you will be in a position to help out a buddy in case they want their vehicle to roar on the highway. Keep on reading and be keen to gather every point.

Car Amplifier
From Sony

What You Need to Install a Car Amplifier

The first thing you need to know is that a car amplifier doesn’t come with any wiring. Therefore you need a supply of wiring for the amplifier’s power and ground connection. Here are the things you need to install an amplifier in your car.

Speaker Wire and RCA Cables

You will not find the signal wiring in the amp wiring kit. The RCA cables are the ones that give your amplifier the input signals from the receiver’s source. The RCA cables are available in different lengths and stereo pairs. Any wire with a gauge of 14-20 is perfect when connecting wires for speakers from the output of the amplifier. You also need to note that the thicker the wire, the lower the gauge. However, it is okay if you use any wire with a gauge of 12-16 gauge for subwoofers.

A Fuse for Your System’s Protection

The main cable will need an in-line infusion for your safety and that of the car. The mounting of the cable should be six inches or slightly above the battery connection. The fuse will ensure you, your vehicle, and the wire is protected from any fire that a short circuit could cause. Wire manufacturers have different ratings of the current capacity of their wires. However, anything between a foot run of 16-20 will be safe with the following:

  • 25 amp fuse with the wiring of 10 gauge
  • 60 amp-fuse with the wiring of 18 gauge
  • 100 amp fuse with the wiring of 4-gauge 
  • 250 amp fuse with the wiring of 1 or 0 gauge

Another alternative is to get an amplifier wiring kit because it has everything you need for your specifications. This includes matching ground, power, turn-on wires, and fuse. The kit will help with any confusion and prevent any damage.

Ground and Power Wires

These wires are responsible for the accommodation of the amplifier’s electrical current demand. Failure to have them will mean that the operation of the amp will be faulty. You will need to follow your instructions to establish the suitable wire to use. Remember to take the measurements of the distance to know what length you require.

Which Is the Perfect Place to Mount Your Car’s Amplifier

This is a significant question that most car owners tend to ask. There are many places you can mount your amp, but these guidelines will help you choose the perfect location and ensure the whole installation is smooth.

Follow the mounting instructions of the manufacturer and ensure it’s safe. You don’t want the amp to fall and cause injuries to you or other passengers.

Ensure the amp is at least three feet from the stereo. This will help prevent noise radiation from the electrical system of the vehicle. The distance also ensures that the amp doesn’t tamper with AM and FM frequencies of the radio.

You need to give the amp a few inches of breathing space around it to keep it as cool as possible. This is because it produces heat when in use which might affect the circuitry. Also, avoid mounting the amp upside down because there will be radiation of the dissipated heat back into the amp.

Avoid bolting your amp directly to the metal chassis of your vehicle. You will be welcoming different types of noise like buzz or hum. Rubber grommets will be the best when used around the mounting screws to isolate the amplifier’s case. Alternatively, create enough room for wire connections and control adjustments.

From Crutchfield

Best Locations for Amplifier Installation

In the Hutch area or Trunk

This space has more than enough room in case your amp is big. It also nears the rear speakers, and you can easily access the amp controls. Nevertheless, you will need longer wires and patch cords, and some cargo space will be sacrificed.

On the Firewall

This is the passenger’s side, and it’s also convenient for your amp installation because it requires patch cords and short wires. On the other hand, it won’t be necessary to climb the trunk or remove a seat. However, the downside of this location for your amp is that only very tiny amps can be accommodated there.

Under the Seat

The best thing about placing your amp under the seat is using short wires and signal cables. These two are not prone to the degradation of signal or noise. Additionally, you will quickly run wires to them because they are close to the speakers. Also, you will sacrifice your cargo space, unlike when placing the amp in the trunk. Nonetheless, you will be required to remove the seat to install the amp. Be careful because the seat removal could lead to the deactivation of the airbag system. You will also be required that the amp is protected against rainwater or snow that your shoes may carry.

From Sonic Electronix

Steps of Car Amplifier Installation

It’s now time to have your amplifier installed by gathering up your equipment and maybe a bottle of water. Here are the steps involved.

Step 1 – Battery Disconnection

The first thing you need to do is remove the car’s battery by setting the parking brake and disconnecting the negative terminal of your battery. This will help prevent shocks or electrical shorts.

How to Disconnect a Car Battery: 5 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow
From WikiHow

Step 2 – Mount The Amp

Now that you have chosen the perfect location of the amp, it’s time to mount.

Step 3 – Power Wire Installation

This stage involves running the power wire from the battery to the car amplifier. It could be a wire that you bought separately or the one from it. It will help if you run this wire through the car’s firewall via the car’s body to the amp.  For the power wire to fit through the firewall, it would be best to use a new grommet that passes through it. If you fail to find a grommet, drilling a hole through the firewall is another alternative. Be careful to check both sides of the wall. You don’t want to drill into any gas or electrical lines and risk a fire outbreak. You can use a grommet to ensure that you are protected from shorting and fraying wires because it conveniently goes through the hole.

Step 4 – Fuse Installation

If you got your wire from the kit, it must have a fuse holder already installed. If the holder is not installed, place your fuse holder in a perfect spot near your battery. Maybe some less than 7 inches from the battery would be ideal. Use a cable tie or a screw to firmly anchor the fuse holder to ensure it is not hanging or bouncing around. Proper anchoring of the holder will prevent a potential fire outbreak in case the fuse blows.

Afterward, cut a short piece of wire at its end. Remember the wire should cover the distance between the battery and the fuse holder. Using a wire stripper, strip the insulation on both ends. On the end of the short piece of wire, crimp the terminal ring found in the wiring and attach the fuse holder of the other end. Strip the insulation off the edge of the power cable leading into the passenger compartment and connect it to the other end of the cable.

From Sound Certified

What Happens If You Are Installing Multiple-Amps

The arrangement of installing two amps involves running a single power cable with a heavy gauge from your battery to a source. Then, connect a power cable with a lighter gauge to the source to each amplifier. By doing this, you will minimize any noise issues and have a good-looking installation. However, it would help get a power cable with a thicker gauge to handle the two amplifiers’ current flow conveniently.

Step 5 – Power Wire Connection

This step involves attaching the power wire to the positive terminal of the battery. You do this by removing the terminal nut of the battery. You slip the ring of the power cables over the bolt securing the battery terminal to the battery post and replace the nut. For vehicles with top-mounted battery posts, you make the connection by crimping a ring terminal to the end of the power wire.

In this stage, you will also need a wire loom to protect your wire against the heat coming from the engine area.

Step 6 – Connection of Ground Wire 

This is the most critical connection, and it starts by finding a bolt on the metal frame of your vehicle near the car amplifier. If you can’t find a bolt, your option will be to drill one though you have to be keen to not run onto any gas or electrical wiring. Attach a ring terminal to the small ground cable.

This is followed by scrapping any paint away and thoroughly cleaning the bolt location. Tightly bolt the terminal to the vehicle’s metal chassis so that the ground connection of the wire will be to bare metal. To keep this connection area clean and tight, you can use a star washer, extra screws, and any other tool. Some people prefer coating the location of the final connection with silicone to curb corrosion.

Bad Ground On Amp Symptoms | Crystal Stereo
From Crystal Stereo

Step 7 – Plug-in The Speaker, RCA Cable, And Remote Turn-On Leads

You will first have to remove the stereo to access the wires. Then plug the leads coming from the amp to the back of your stereo’s head unit. If the head unit doesn’t feature a remote turn-on output, the alternative will be connecting the turn-on wire to the power wire fused–output terminal. Do the subwoofer speakers wires connect, front and rear to the corresponding speakers from the amplifier. Check if all the wiring is tight and safe once you have made the above connections.

Step 8 – Turn It on

Set the amplifiers’ volumes to the minimum, turn off all the bass boosts, filters, and EQ. Ensure that the main fuse is safe and reconnect the negative battery cable of your car. Start your vehicle and turn on the radio. Confirm the car amplifier lights are functional and turn the music up, checking if each speaker is producing a clear sound.

Use the balance, subwoofer, and fade settings on the head unit to test the stereo system.

Be careful to check if each speaker is functioning without distortions or static.

Set the amplifier gain to be in line with its input level and the receiver’s output level.

If all systems are good, reinstall the paneling and stereo.

Benefits of Installing a Car Amplifier

If you are wondering why you should struggle with all eight steps of installing an amplifier, here is what you stand to gain.

Increased Volume

The interior part of any vehicle is full of various sounds. There is noise from the engine, air conditioner, or the hooting cars around you in traffic. All these noises combined will not allow you to listen to your favorite country music songs. However, by installing a car amplifier, the volume of your radio will be increased.

Authentic Audio

Amplifiers are excellent when it comes to the reduction of disturbances. That noise for the engine degrades the quality of the sound. Additionally, amplifiers are excellent in solving the issue because they use different watts and feature several output paths. However, they vary depending on the manufacturers.

Efficiency

Any car consumes power, and this is where car owners became hesitant when it comes to amplifiers. They fear that the amp will consume a lot of power. On the contrary, when you install an amplifier, it will help in the utilization of energy. For instance, a high-end amp will give you excellent power efficiency, and you won’t have to worry about the noise from surrounding people or cars.

It Gives Power to The Speakers and Subwoofers

Car amplifiers are excellent in providing the correct power for optimal performance of your speakers. This way, your speakers wont struggle to release the kind of sound you want as per the settings on the stereo. In addition, an amp also helps strengthen the speakers’ signal by increasing the frequency more so in bass speakers. See our article on how to measure car speakers.

How to Install a Car Amp - wikiHow
From WikiHow

Why Install a Car Amplifier DIY?

As earlier mentioned, you stand to gain much when you install a car amp by yourself instead of hiring a professional. First, you gain amp installation experience and learn through the hurdles. This way, you will help your colleagues when they want some good and loud music in their car. Secondly, you will save money. This is unlike when you hire a mechanic to fix it for you. The only money you spend is on the cost of the requirements. On the other hand, DIY helps you to become familiar with your car. You might note other problems in the car and fix them or call a mechanic before they escalate to bigger ones. However, if you are not comfortable with the installation process or are generally inexperienced with DIY installations – caution must be advised and it is recommended to consult the help of a professional.

How To Troubleshoot Amplifier Installation Problems

  • Test the quality of sound on the amp to pick uncommon noises
  • To confirm if the amp is plugged in, check the wiring.
  • Check on the lights that indicate the amp is turned on.

Conclusion

Owning a car comes with some excitement and convenience. You can run errands efficiently and be in the office on time. However, your vehicle doesn’t have to be boring because you fear that the radio will consume more power. You can enjoy your ride more by installing an amplifier. This article has guided you on how to have an amp installed in your car. The steps are easy and will expose you to another level of experience. Also, you now know the perfect locations for the installations and the requirements. You will not make the mistake of installing it where your safety in the car will be jeopardized. With the above information, consider installing a car amplifier by yourself. You will save money and enjoy quality sound in the middle of traffic, and beat the boredom that comes with it.

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