Did you know that, of all items stolen from cars, stereos lead the competition? Around 31 percent of car burglaries target car stereos.
Even though there has been a decrease in car stereo theft incidents over the years, it is worrying that this crime is still very much alive, even for cars with sophisticated security systems like keyless entry.
Can we learn something from the people stealing stereos from vehicles? The answer is an emphatic yes; we can learn how not to remove a car stereo. This article presents four crazy stereo removals you should never attempt at home.
If we suggest what not to do, we have the responsibility to propose what you should do instead. Therefore, the second half of the article provides some advice on safe ways of removing your car stereo.
Avoid the 30 Seconds Job
Some people claim they can remove a car stereo in 30 seconds or less, but any reasonable person should be skeptical about such claims.
Unless the context is stealing the stereo, which we do not encourage, there is no good reason you should be attempting to remove your car stereo in less than 30 seconds.
If 30 seconds is not enough to remove a car stereo, how long does it take to remove and install a car stereo? The best place to find an answer is on forums like Quora, where people share their experiences and opinions. From posts on the site, we can conclude that removing a car stereo can take anything from 15 minutes to several hours.
Even though a stereo is removed in 30 seconds on the YouTube channel SimonSaysYouDie, the presenter is literally ripping it from the car. This is not the kind of thing anybody would want to do to their car.
Check out the video below:
Don’t Destroy the Car to Remove a Stereo
A good car stereo removal job requires skill and time to execute correctly. Failure to follow the correct instructions could result in frustration. We all know that frustration leads to quick decisions that often lead to undesirable long-term results.
Damaging other parts of the vehicle could result from a rushed job, as prioritizing speed would often mean sacrificing accuracy. This could mean avoidable expenses on other parts of the car that did not have to be damaged when removing the stereo.
We recently came across a video posted on YouTube showing what we mean when we refer to damaging the car to remove a stereo.
The thief in the video had to destroy the car’s door to get his hands on the stereo. The cost of repairing the car door is likely much more than the value of the stereo. But the thief does not care; all he wants is the few bucks he will make from selling the stereo.
However, if you are the owner of the car, you want to ensure that the rest of the car remains intact as you listen to the music after installing your stereo. Take a look at the video below to see the destruction caused by this one guy:
If It’s Not Your Car, Just Don’t
The one thing that many car stereo thieves never seem to consider is that the world has cameras all over the place. Attempting to remove a stereo from a car that’s not yours, like the guy in the video below, might cost you a lot of money and your freedom. That’s why our first advice is that, if the stereo is not yours, just stay away from it.
A used car lot in Maddison made the news in January 2017 after the owner reported that several stereos had been stolen from cars in his custody. Unfortunately for the burglar, there were surveillance cameras on the property, and he was quickly identified.
The burglar managed to steal six stereos in a one-hour heist, costing the owner of the car lot a thousand dollars in damages. The video below shows how the cameras captured the thief as he caused destruction around the used car lot.
Make Your Work Easier, Find the Right Tools
Removing a car stereo doesn’t have to be difficult if you have the right tools. Don’t be like the burglar in the video below – he spent a little while looking around a car, possibly trying to find a tool to break into the vehicle. Eventually, due to an apparent lack of ideas, he breaks the driver seat window to access the car stereo.
If you don’t want to resort to a stupid act like him, start by looking for the right tools. Check out the video below to know exactly what not to do.
Do you Need Special Tools to Remove Trim without Damaging Your Car?
There is a reason special trim removal tools exist – to remove the panels of your car without causing any damage. It’s also important to remember that, while removing the car stereo may be easy, the complicated part is to remove the dash trim.
A DIY expert writing for Reader’s Digest Canada recommends “investing in two things: a set of special tools for trim removal and an online set of instructions geared specifically to your car.”
Another special tool that makes the trimming removal process easier is a hairdryer to heat the trim when trying to remove the adhesive. Remember to wear gloves to protect your hands.
What are Radio Removal Release Keys or DIN Tools?
Due to security concerns, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) now fit their vehicles with special locking mechanisms designed to prevent car stereo thefts. Therefore, one would need a radio removal release key, a unique set of keys to remove car stereos locked by these OEM manufacturers.
These release keys are usually specific to a particular car model. Without them, you won’t be able to remove a car stereo without damaging the head units of cars with a specific design. While most radio removal release keys are model-specific, universal keys can unlock various car models.
How to Remove the Car Stereo from the Dash Panel
Removing the car stereo from the dash panel is a delicate task that needs to be approached with care. To start, you need special tools like a dash kit, a flat-head screwdriver, pliers, nylon prying tools, keys, and wire strippers.
The resource for people looking to buy, drive, and maintain or modify their cars, CarBibles.com lists factors to consider when removing your car stereo without damaging the panel and the stereo.
Read the Car’s Manual and Get Your Tools Ready
Before removing your car stereo from the dashboard, read through the car’s manual for any manufacturer-specific instructions.
If you cannot access the car’s original manual, you may also try finding one online. Once you have all the information you need, get the right tools. Remember, no matter how much you know, you won’t be able to do the job well without the right tools.
Disconnect Your Car Battery and Loosen Screws
To avoid electric shock from your car’s wiring, turn off your engine and disconnect the battery. Now disconnect the negative terminal and keep the cable away from anything that can conduct electricity.
After neutralizing your car’s electricity systems, proceed to tackle the stereo itself.
Once you have removed the trim and dashboard parts around the radio, loosen the screws attaching the stereo to the dashboard and try to shake the radio out of its compartment to access the wires behind it.
Take Care with the Stereo Wires
Handle the wires with care because if you get this wrong, you could interfere with the general electronics of the vehicle. Removing the wires of your car’s stereo may require extra hardware like a new wiring harness or a wiring adaptor.
After loosening all necessary screws, gently pull your stereo out of the console to access the cables behind. These cables are usually connected to the back of the stereo via clips. You will need a set of DIN tools to pull apart the clips connecting your car’s stereo cables.
A WikiHow.com piece provides some valuable information with comprehensive steps you can follow when wiring your car stereo.
What to Consider When Choosing a Replacement Stereo
Whether your car stereo has been stolen or you have simply decided to replace the old one, choosing the right replacement stereo requires planning.
Experts recommend considering your most frequent audio sources and what you use the stereo mostly for. For instance, you may need to consider Bluetooth connectivity if you play a lot of music from other devices. On the other hand, if you want to use the stereo for navigation, you may want to consider one with Wi-Fi connectivity.
Also, look out for stereos with the correct physical dimensions to fit into your dashboard without leaving gaps or being too tight. Other important things to keep in mind are your budget, the stereo’s power, and aesthetics.