Installing a new car stereo into your Subaru Impreza

Subaru stereo install

The first time I bought a car stereo/CD player to replace a factory tape deck, I paid the shop to do it. The second time I paid a good mate with a box of beer…and drank most of them while he worked. This time it was some basic tools, a lazy afternoon and aside from the occasional dropped screw, barely any hassle. Got some new car entertainment for your Impreza? Let’s get it in there!

This guide is for a 2005 Subaru Impreza but should work for most Imprezas/WRX’s of that era and probably further along, depending on how little the centre console has changed over the years. 

All average things must come to an end

Subaru Stereo install

It didn’t take the factory stereo long to outlive its usefulness a few months into ownership. While the radio from 2005 hasn’t skipped a beat, the use of the CD part of it died a nasty death one morning when it decided it didn’t like the Mike Oldfield CD in there but refused to let it go when asked. Not that I have many CD’s left in the house but this was the last straw, time for something new with USB MP3 playback because I have tens of thousands of them.

Autobarn here in Australia was having a 20% off everything sale and I came back with a bit more than I planned to:

THE NEW SYSTEM

JVC KD-T752BT CD Receiver – I walked into the shop with an option from Sony and an option from Pioneer I was considering, only to find both of those options no longer available. So I ended up with this one instead, with a working CD I can jam even more Mike Oldfield into. I’ve barely broken into all the options it comes with although my son loves the app I can use via Bluetooth to make it do different things so that’s a start. (JVC Stereo options on Amazon – affiliate link)

Aerpro ISO Harness x 2 – I know how to solder and the cheap Digitech soldering iron option I’ve used for years has patched up a lot of wiring in that time. However this time around I opted for a huge time saving option of using these plugs, even though I failed to realise you need two of them to shake hands with your original wiring (one is JVC specific, the other is Subaru factory wiring specific.) It takes seconds to plug in and saves so much time, not to mention mess with various connectors and taped up wires. If I ever do this again, I’m going the pre-made wires in a heartbeat.

Aerpro Facia Kit – According to the shop computer, my car needed one of these but here’s the thing – unless you’re replacing a double din unit, you certainly don’t. If you have a single din radio with factory pocket then retain that pocket because this other one is only slightly longer and not really worth buying if you have to.

Subaru Stereo Install
Yeah this pocket really isn’t needed if you’ve already got one.

Tools needed

A couple of Phillips head screwdrivers

A couple of flat head screwdrivers or trim removal tools to wedge in and lift things up

And that’s it!

Subaru Stereo Install steps

Obviously do this with the car off, hand brake on. If you’re worried about putting a screw driver in the completely wrong place you can disconnect the battery but since I went the plug and play option, I left it connected and everything worked fine.

Clear everything out of the pocket

If you’re working with an auto, put the stick to neutral. Pop the little tab in the top left corner, push down on the white tab with the flat head and pull the stick down to N.

Using the flat bade/trim puller, pry up the gear selector surround which pops out pretty easily.

There’s a couple of plugs you can disconnect but if you just disconnect the one further down the line (that splits to the cigarette lighter and trans power switch) then you can easily move the panel to the side and out of the way.

Unscrew the two screws holding the next section of the console (so the top two) – there’s no need to unscrew the ones underneath them.

 

 

 

Gently pull this section out from the bottom. There are tabs that will release from either side near the top of it and one directly under the hazard switch.

 

 

 

The screws holding the bracket in place are now visible – take them out and you’ll be able to slide both the factory unit and pocket out in one move.

Subaru Stereo Install

Disconnect the radio aerial plug, the stereo wiring plug and the black ground from the harness.

 

Plug your new harness into the factory wiring, ready for your new unit.

Remove what you don’t need from the old metal surround. Word of warning, this little gold screws were a bit of a hassle. They haven’t moved in 17 years, strip out easily and are bloody hard to put back in. I resorted using other screws in their place and everything works just fine.

I’m putting this in storage in case one day it’ll be worth millions..

With the old unit out, pop the new unit in remember to push it in gently as far as it will go into the old frame (otherwise you’ll find out like I did that your trim bits won’t fit as well later..) Put in the old pocket or new one and screw everything back in place.

Now we reverse the process and plug everything back in. So don’t forget the aerial, main wiring plug and the frame grounding plug. (Also the microphone goes in now if you’ve got one.) It’s a good time now to turn the car on (but not start it) just to check if everything has power.

Subaru Stereo Install

Screw the frame back into the dash and replace the top part of the surround. If it doesn’t go in easily, check that your unit or pocket isn’t too far forward. Mine was and caused a bit of confusion until I took it out to try and work out why something was preventing it from clicking in easily like it should. 

Plug your lighter plug back in, replace your bottom trim piece, put the selector back to park.

Subaru Stereo Install
A bit of Tribe Called Quest never goes astray for testing purposes

Enjoy your new system!

 

HOW’D IT ALL GO?

If upgrading from a stock system, you’ll instantly notice a huge jump in sound. Even the radio boomed with this thing and stock standard speakers. While I’m still working out the ins and outs of this new unit, I can reveal it’s giving the stock speakers quite a run for their age old money and they’ll be the next upgrade when time and coin permits. For a couple of hundred bucks, its sounding a tonne better in the blob eye.

WHAT I LIKE

-Looks great and nice and bright at night and the red/orange led’s look good with the silver everything else.

-Even with factory speakers there’s a great sound

-App control to amuse the kids

 

WHAT I DON’T LIKE

-It’s slightly sunken into the dash surround (you don’t have a choice unless you want to get creative with a dremel) and the track select buttons are on the left side of the volume knob which means there’s not much room to change tracks with easily.

-The app is a little fiddly and useless if you do a lot of driving solo

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