How to Remove the Stereo From Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Ford car used two methods to hold factory radios in the dashes of Ford car pickup trucks. The year your truck was made will determine what is required to remove the factory stereo from your vehicle. Both methods allow you to remove the radio without causing damage to the bezel enclosing the area. Taking your time will ensure you do not break the plastic bezel trimming the radio or ruin the wiring harness connecting the radio to the electrical system of your truck.

Under The Hood:

 How to Remove the Stereo From a Chevy Blazer

Open the hood, locate the battery, and disconnect the negative battery cable (marked with a minus sign) with the pliers. Wait at least 10 minutes to eliminate the reserve power supply (this is to disarm the safety restraint system; you will be working near the airbag).

Inspect the odometer cluster, where the speedometer and tachometer are located. Look directly above the gauges to find a 7mm bolt. Remove it with the socket wrench.

Remove the two 7mm bolts from the lower steering column panel (one bolt on each side of the steering wheel). Pull the panel partially away from the steering column. Remove the single Phillips head screw behind the panel (left side of steering wheel).

Grasp the lower-right corner of the stereo/air vent panel. Begin pulling the panel toward you, and then work your way to the upper-right corner, and the top part of the panel (above the steering column).

Position the panel away from the stereo, to allow suffice room to remove the stereo. It is not necessary to completely remove the panel.

Remove the two 7mm bolts that attach the stereo to the dash. Pull the stereo out carefully, and then unplug the antenna cable and the wiring harness.

Items you will need

  • Pliers

  • Socket wrench (7mm)

 How to Remove a Stereo From a Acura RSX

The short-lived Acura RSX -- built for 2002 to 2006 model years – wasn’t all that dissimilar from the Honda Civic. In fact, despite its ties to the Integra, one could probably argue that it was effectively a Civic on visual and mechanical steroids. The extra $4,200 in the base price of the RSX was well deserved for the styling, luxury and power, but Acura sure didn’t offer much for style when it came to the stock radio. Nobody could blame you for wanting to rid your beautiful car of that ugly, lackluster, single-line-display radio.

Items you will need

  • Battery wrench (optional)

  • Ratchet

  • Flexible ratchet extension

  • Socket set

  • 2002-to-2006 Acura RSX radio harness adapter

  • Heatshrink tubing

  • Lighter

No matter whether you’re installing a stock replacement radio or just temporarily removing your current radio, you'll need that radio's security code before proceeding. If you don’t have the security code, you can obtain it from Honda’s Navicode website.

Tip

  • If you have a Type-S model with the premium sound package, you'll need to purchase a dash kit as well. The installation proccess is almost the same. On Type-S models you have to transfer the radio bracket and hazard switch from the stock radio to the dash kit. To do this, simply remove the retaining screws for each and snug them, when the bracket and hazard switch is installed, onto the dash kit.

Disconnect the negative battery cable.

Loosen the cable with a battery wrench, or an 8mm socket and ratchet. Remove the cable from the battery and isolate it from the negative battery terminal.

Access and remove the radio bracket bolts.

Find the holes at the bottom of the trim panel that surround the 12-volt accessory socket. Reach your fingers into the holes and give a slight tug on the panel – it should pop out. Disconnect the wiring harness from the accessory socket, then set the panel aside.

Tip

  • The holes in the trim panel are directly above the cup holder.

You now have access to the radio bracket bolts. It is a tight fit in there, so remove the two exposed bolts using a flexible ratchet extension paired with a ratchet and 8mm socket.

Push the radio out of the dash.

Reach your hand into the dash and push outward, toward the rear of the vehicle, on the radio assembly. Focus more pressure on the driver's side of the radio than the passenger's side.

Tip

    • Do not attempt to pry the radio out with a screwdriver or trim removal tool. It will damage the dash surrounding the radio.   
    • Applying too much outward pressure on the passenger side of the radio as you pop it out of the dash. This side of the dash is a weak area, and it will crack under too much stress.

Remove any clips that came out of the dash from the radio assembly. Press the clips back into place on the dash.

Disconnect the radio assembly and remove it from the vehicle.

Disconnect the wiring harness for the radio and remove the antenna wire. Squeeze the locking tab on the hazard-switch harness to disconnect it from the switch.

Separate the radio from the assembly.

Remove the 8mm bolts that secure the radio to the radio bracket. Slide the radio outward from the assembly.

Tip

  • You may have to remove the screws for the hazard switch to reach the innermost bolt on that side of the radio.

Install a new radio into the assembly.

Slide the radio into place. Align the mounting holes on the new radio with the holes in the radio bracket, then install the radio’s retaining bolts and snug them. Remember to install and tighten the hazard switch screws, if you removed them.

Wire the radio harness adapter.

Match the wire colors on the harness adapter with the wire colors in the new radio’s harness. Slide a 1/2-inch portion of heatshrink tubing onto each wire in one of the harnesses. Twist the like-colored wires together, then slide the portion of heatshrink over each exposed wire joint. Shrink the tubing by holding a lit lighter at least six inches below the tubing. Quit applying heat to the tubing when it fits tight around the existing insulation, making an air-tight seal.

Tip

  • For better joint strength use butt connectors with heatshrink insulation, or solder the wire joints for maximum strength and conductivity.

Plug in the radio, antenna and hazard switch.

Plug the wiring harness adapter into the stock radio harness and the stock radio harness into the radio. Install an antenna adapter, if needed, then plug the antenna wire into the radio. Connect the remaining harness to the hazard light switch.

Install the radio assembly.

Align the pins on the radio assembly with the clips in the dash, then press-fit the assembly into the dash. Install the two bracket bolts that you removed in Step 2 and snug them.

Tip

  • Do not skip installing these bracket bolts. Omitting them may make it easier to remove the radio later, but without them the radio assembly may eject from the dash in a collision.

Install the lower trim panel.

Plug the wiring harness into the 12-volt accessory socket. Align the pins on the trim with the clips in the dash, then press-fit the trim panel to the dash.

Reconnect the negative battery cable to the battery.

Connect the negative battery cable to the battery. Tighten the bolt to 13 foot-pounds, if you have a torque wrench. Otherwise, just snug the bolt. The first time you start your RSX, it may idle or shift differently than what you're used to. This variation is a relearn cycle for the adaptive idle and shift control system. Everything will return to normal within five minutes of driving.

 How to Remove a Stereo from a Ford F-150

Pre-2004 Trucks

Pull gently on the bezel surrounding the radio with your hands. Slide the end of a plastic putty knife under the bezel if it is difficult to remove with your hands alone. Set the panel aside.

Slide the two prongs of one DIN tool into the holes located just below the volume control knob located on the left-hand side of the radio. Slide a second DIN tool into the holes located on the right-hand side of the radio, with the top hole just below and to the right of the audio controls.

Push both DIN tools away from the center of the radio. Pull the radio slowly toward you.

Disconnect the round antenna cable from the back of the radio.

Pull the wire harness connector free from the back of the radio. Set the radio aside.

2004 to 2011 Trucks

Slide the flat end of a plastic putty knife under the bottom seam of the radio bezel. Pry the bezel gently away from the dash. Set the radio bezel aside.

Match a socket from a socket set that matches the size of the four bolt heads holding the radio in place. Attach the socket to the end of a 3/8-inch ratchet handle.

Remove the four bolts securing the radio to the dash with the socket and ratchet handle. Set the screws aside. Slide the radio out of the dash.

Disconnect the round antenna and the wiring harness connector from the back of the radio.

Items you will need

  • Plastic putty knife

  • DIN tool set

  • Socket set

  • 3/8-inch ratchet handle

 How to Remove a Stereo Off HHR

Disconnect the negative battery cable and gather the tools needed to remove the radio. You will be handling electrical components. Disconnecting the negative battery cable will prevent shock.

Use the trim panel tool or a small flat head screwdriver to remove the side panels from the radio and air conditioning surround. The panel covers the center air conditioning vents, the controls and the radio. Once the panel pops free, pull it towards you.

Disconnect the three connections from the rear of the panel. Set the panel aside.

Remove the four screws mounting the air conditioning controls. Pull the control module out so you will have room to remove the radio.

Remove the four screws mounting the radio into the dash. Carefully slide the radio out and disconnect the cables from the rear.

Items you will need

  • Pliers

  • Trim panel tool or flat head screwdriver

  • Phillips head screwdriver or 7mm socket

 How to Remove the Stereo From a Lexus ES 330

Unhook the negative cable from the battery to prevent electric shock when handling the wiring components. Use pliers to remove the battery cable nut, and then lift the cable away.

Detach the climate-control panel from the dash. Grasp the panel around the edges. Pull it firmly to unhook it. It's not necessary to unplug the connections. Simply move the panel away to access the stereo and air-vent panel.

Remove the two gold bolts from behind the climate-control panel with a 10mm socket. Look above these bolts to find two additional 10mm bolts mounted at an angle. Remove these bolts to detach the stereo.

Pull the stereo panel away from the dash. Behind the panel, you'll find several connections, including the plug for the digital clock, emergency flasher, antenna cable and stereo-wiring harness. Unplug each connection to separate the stereo.

Items you will need

  • Pliers

  • 10mm socket

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.