Academy of Sound

4 Steps to Installing A Head Unit

Installing a Head Unit

Every morning I start my day fairly similar. Chug down and expertly drawn espresso coffee, take my Son to school, head into the office and answer your questions. Almost every day I answer the question “Will this fit in [insert car make and model here]?”, or, “How much for installation?” These questions are fair, but the answer is pretty similar – installing a head unit is different for every car.

With newer cars, everything is digital, everything is connected to everything else. Gone are the good old days working on ramen and bong-smoke perfumed Nissan 180SX’s or Holden Commodore’s with nothing more than a butter knife, electrical tape and side-cutters.

Nowadays we’re dealing with Infodapters, CANBUS converters, steering wheel control boxes, factory video and USB retention, amp bypass harness and so much more!

This post is here to help explain the parts, the processes and how to make installing a head unit a little easier and share some information and knowledge #2020 styles.

What's needed for Installing a Head Unit?

Again, this depends so much on the car you’re installing it into. Some vehicles (like most Toyota’s) are super simple, you just need a harness for the unit, a harness for your car and bam, just like Bill Cosby’s career, it’s done.

Other cars (mostly Europeans) require a lot more stuff to keep everything working with your sweet new head unit. We’re talking CANBUS adapters, Infodapters, video and USB retention, factory amp by-pass harnesses, the works!

It sounds like a lot, and yes, it can be quite confusing. But don’t let that stop you from installing a head unit! The outcome is definitely worth the work at this point. For this post, we’re going to be installing the Pioneer DMH-Z5350BT into our 2017 Holden Colorado Z71.

Step 1. Find what you're looking for

The fabulous boffins over at Aerpro are the mad-men (and women) behind the installation accessories that we use and sell. They’ve been doing this for quite some time now and have a lot of know-how.

Once you’re over there, have a look for your car from the Make and Model drop-down boxes. From there, you’ll be shown a page where all the parts that work for your car are shown.

If your car doesnt appear on Aerpro’s website, get in touch with us directly to see what can be done!

Now, we’ll see the option to enter in the head unit that we’re installing. This is a great little feature as it will show us the unit and brand-specific harnesses etc. that’ll be needed for the DMH-Z5350BT.

a. Harness and Patch Lead

Straight off the bat, we’re going to need a harness and patch lead. This is what gets smacked in the back of the head unit. It contains the wires for the power, ground, speakers, hand-brake etc. as well as the patch lead that’ll go to the Steering Wheel Adapter later on.

b. Facia Kit

Because car manufacture’s started caring what their dashes looked like from around 2000 and onwards, facia kits are a thing. They’re moulded plastic that replaces what was there from the factory. Sometimes you can get lucky and the Aerpro team have combined everything together in an Installation Kit. This makes installing a head unit easier than a cute blonde becoming TikTok famous.

Installation kits combine everything you need to install your head unit in one box. where possible, if they’re available, get them.

c. Steering Wheel Control Harness

This is pretty self-explanatory. This box makes all the buttons on your steering wheel work with the newly installed head unit – as if by magic. There are often a few options here if you get confused, it’s always best to give us a call instead of buying the wrong one.

Gone are the good old days of working in ramen and bong-smoke perfumed Nissan 180SX’s with nothing more than a butter knife, electrical tape and side-cutters.

Step 2. Understand your budget

With this new information regarding the installation parts required for your car, your budget needs to be understood. No matter if you’re looking at the glorious Pioneer DMH-Z5350BT for $599 or the superb Kenwood DMX9720XDS for $1,698, these bits are needed.

There’s nothing worse than having a total budget of $700 and not realising that you’re up for around $450 worth of installation pieces just to make a hole big enough. Please, save yourself the heart-ache, understand the costs involved.

Step 3. Pick your installer

Obviously, the best choice here is to have Bankstown Sound & Marine install your sweet new system. But we understand that not everyone lives close enough to us. So, for those of you unfortunates that can’t have a Bankstown Sound install job, please choose a worth-while installer.

There have been too many horror stories we’ve heard of “mates who do this all the time” installing a head unit so badly and so wrong that they fry an $800 unit within seconds – guess what’s not covered under warranty… stupidity!

These are complex electronic items, so please, make sure when it comes time to drop them in your dash, you get someone with some knowledge and understanding to do the… dropping.

Step 4. Enjoy your sweet new deck

No doubt there’s a podcast you’re going to tune into, some reverse camera looking to be done, and maybe some hater-vision showing off that you’ll be doing in the local drive-thru on a Friday night.

Do it with pride, knowing that you knew exactly what you were up against the whole way, there were no surprises and your dash now looks like a work of contemporary art and technology.

The other awesome thing about it is, now that you’ve gone OEM, if you want to change your head unit later down the track, all you have to do is buy the new deck and deck specific harness. You’ve already got the rest of the installation bits. You’re on easy-street like every billionaire child!

We’ve had some laughs and fun here, but seriously, installing a head unit can be a pretty in-depth process when it comes to certain makes and models (here’s looking at you 2006-2013 Lexus IS250 owners).

This has been a fairly loose, high-level look at what’s involved. The best situation you can find is that there’s a Complete Installation Kit made for your car – that way it’s one purchase and bipity-bopity-boop you’re done.

We’re always here and available to answer your questions so don’t be afraid to ask us and we’re happy to help in any way we can! 🦙

Shaun

About Shaun

Heading up the Digital and Marketing team, Shaun is a bass-head from way back. Starting with a 1991 Ford KH Laser that, at one point, was cranking 117dB! Getting around now in the Bankstown Sound & Marine Colorado Z71, you can bet, there's a savage passion for sound!

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