Many people crave better sound in their cars, especially those who spend a lot of time in their cars. They can choose to optimize their current car audio system or upgrade the sound system by replacing their old system with new speakers, a new subwoofer or a new amplifier.
However, car owners may feel hesitant to install a new subwoofer on their own. The truth is, you don’t necessarily have to pay someone else to do it, and you can do it yourself without too much hassle if you take time to research.
In this article, we will help you save money by teaching you how to install subwoofers in a car.
Basic understanding about subwoofers
Subwoofers might be indispensable if you long for rich, deep, and powerful bass sound (low pitched audio frequencies). So basically, they’re speakers, but more specialized. They enhance the overall quality of the audio by reproducing intense low frequencies so ordinary speakers can concentrate on the rest frequencies.
Normally, subwoofers are plastic or wooden loudspeakers enclosures and come in large sizes and consist of a single, large speaker driver (cone). There might me one more woofers inside a subwoofer.
When buying subwoofers for your car, make sure it’s of an appropriate size so it can fit into your vehicle. You would want properly manage the trunk capacity of your vehicle to leave room for other stuff too. Also, the amplifier and subwoofers need power for operation so make sure your car battery can support them.
Before starting the installation process, ensure your vehicle’s electrical system is in working order.
Here are two types of subwoofers:
Here are two types of subwoofers:
- Readymade and amplified subwoofers
There are many subwoofers with different specifications, shapes, and sizes available on the market. If you want to simplify your installation process, choose a single and integrated with a power supply or an amplifier. It’s also much easier to remove than a non-amplified subwoofer.
Non-amplified subwoofers will require users to run a lot of wiring and are less portable than their amplified counterparts.
- Unpowered and component subwoofers
Apart from those subwoofers that come in an integrated unit, others come separately as an individual component. Subwoofers like that don’t have a power supply or an enclosure. This is why they will need an external amplifier and an enclosure in order to produce a strong sound.
These individual components are less expensive and more common than their built-in counterparts. When purchasing for an unpowered subwoofer, make sure it comes with a sturdy enclosure so it can offer support to the sound and be durable too.
When you want to install a new subwoofer in your car, this phase can be one of the most, if not the most important parts of the installation process.
There are several things they need to work out in this process:
- You have all the items needed for each step of the process.
- You have found a dry and secure place to start working on it.
Choose an appropriate location
Keep in mind that it’s going to take a couple of hours to get the job done, so find a place that you won’t be interrupted and focus on the job. If you have your own garage, you can start whenever you want. However, if you don’t, schedule a block of uninterrupted time.
Assembling the supplies
You’ll probably need a number of tools throughout the installation process considering this isn’t a simple one. The less expensive way is borrowing them from your friends or family. If you can’t, then purchase them.
To make things easier, we will classify them into 4 categories:
- Fastening tools: Needle nose pliers, flat – blade screwdriver, screws, sockets, Philips screw driver, wrench.
- Wiring supplies: Wire cutters, heat shrink tubing, utility knife, wire ties, electrical tape, wire stripper.
- Audio components: Amplifier and subwoofer.
- Others: Retaining clip remover, glue gun, caulk, hair dryer or heat gun.
Not necessarily all of them will come in handy in every installation session; it still depends on the type of subwoofer you’re going to install and many other factors. However, most of the items listed above will be very helpful during the installation process.
If you want to choose an unpowered and component subwoofer, a special amplifier wiring kit will be needed. To choose the right gauge of wire, you must read the specifications carefully. A typical writing kit will consist of:
- Some RCA cables
- A main power wire with an inline fuse
- A power-on wire
- A ground wire (earth)
- Sometimes there are necessary crimpers and clips for the wires too
Usually, subwoofers will be installed in the trunk of your vehicle, so make sure you can have unhindered access to your spare tire after installing the unit. Being placed in this location will lead to a muffling effect caused by the back seat. What it needs for the bass sounds to be able to cut through the effect is a power supply that’s strong enough.
Also, during normal driving, the subwoofers tend to bang or slide around. To prevent it from happening, secure them by straps or brackets. Make sure you’re careful so you don’t affect other any of your car parts such as the gas tank or brake.
Disconnect the car battery first if you want to install the subwoofer along with the amplifier. Carefully start with the negative terminal then the positive terminal.
- Attach the power cables for the amplifier
This is the next step after disconnecting the battery. Running this can be a little tricky as it passes all the way through the engine area to the trunk or back seat.
A good option is to run the cable through the rubber gasket that leads from the engine compartment into the dashboard. Another option is to drill a hole. Either way, make sure the hole is as small as possible.
When running the cable, keep it away from any important devices such as controls and pedals… To keep the cables from coming loose causing a potential danger, fasten them with zip ties or clips.
- Install the ground wire
An important thing to remember is that this wire needs to touch bare metal, so make sure the metal isn’t painted or covered.
These wires are grounded to the car’s chassis by a seat belt. They’re very short. When installing it, remove the seat bolt and put it back tightly into place after placing the ground wire.
Note: If you’re installing a built-in amplifier, you don’t have to run install the power cables and ground wires and skip right to the subwoofer connection phase.
- Connecting the subwoofer to the car’s stereo
This is the next step when you’re done connecting the amplifier to the car battery and running the ground wire (in case you’re installing an unpowered and component subwoofer).
Most car stereos have ports or RCA connectors to connect with the audio cables from the subwoofers. To make the ports or RCA connectors visible, you will need to slide the car’s stereo part way out or even all the way out. You might even have to remove the dashboard too. Remember to follow the instructions in your car’s user manual.
In case the subwoofer is in the trunk of your car, you might need to drill a hole and run the cables under the seats. Use ties or clips to secure the cables. You can also run the cables through a wire channel if there is one, or run them under the car’s carpet.
If you’re using an amplifier, running the power cables for the amplifier right next to the audio cables can cause some interference. Therefore, avoid running them close together.
Wrap it up
Once you’ve successfully installed all the cables and wires, it’s time to reconnect the battery. To reconnect the car battery, start with the positive terminal then the negative terminal. Make sure the connections to the battery are tight enough, not overly tight and not too loose.
In case you’re installing a separate amplifier, the final step is placing the in-line fuse. If you can to change the amplifier setup, take off the fuse.
To improve the quality and longevity of the subwoofer, play it low for 20 hours when you start the car. And you might need to perform a variety of adjustments and tweaks to achieve the optimum sound quality.
No one says installing a new subwoofer in a car is simple and easy. In fact, it’s a complicated and long process. However, the result is rewarding, you can save money while getting to work how the audio system works better.
Here are some things to keep in mind when installing a new subwoofer:
- You will need a variety of supplies and tools.
- You will need a protected location where your tools are safe and you will not be interrupted.
- You must be careful not to damage any part of your car, such as the components and wiring.
- Carefully study and follow the owner’s manual for your car.