Installing an Amplifier Wiring Kit in Your Vehicle
So you just received your new amplifier and amp wiring kit from DOWN4SOUND SHOP, now what? In this post, we’ll discuss how to install your new wiring kit and get your amp wired up. Before we get started, there are some things you may want to consider before installation. For example:
- Amp mounting location
- Where and how to route your wiring
- What tools you may need
These are all important points to consider because they will determine the steps needed to properly run the wiring through your vehicle for your amplifier.
What Exactly Do You Need?
Depending on the location you decided on to mount your amp and because an aftermarket amplifier does not include the wiring, the easiest way to get your amp installed is to purchase an amplifier wiring kit. An amplifier wiring kit includes everything you will need to wire up and connect your amplifier. The amp kits from DOWN4SOUNDSHOP.COM are a perfect choice. These premium kits include:
- 17ft of SuperFlexx (OFC or CCA) power cable
- 3ft of SuperFlexx ground cable
- 17ft of remote wire
- 25ft of 14 gauge speaker wire
- 1 set 17ft tinned twisted pair of RCA cables
- 1 ANL fuse holder
- 1 250a amp fuse
- Braided Tube x2
- 2x 0 gauge ring terminals
- 5x 14G Spade Terminals
- 10x 6-inch zip ties
- 1/2″ firewall grommets
In some instances, a wiring kit will not work to complete your installation. In this case, you will need to purchase your wiring separately in spools, or by the foot. If this is your case, keep in mind that you will also have to purchase RCA cables, remote turn-on wire, and your speaker wire. But for this post, we will keep to the basics and install the wiring kit. In addition to your wiring kit, you will need a variety of tools and accessories to aid with the installation process. Here is a basic list of items you may need:
- Basic hand tools; screwdrivers, drill, socket set
- Drill bits
- Panel removal tools
- Wire cutters/strippers
- Heat shrink (5/8”)
- Heat gun
- Electrical/Tesa tape
- Soldering iron and solder
Once you have your tools and everything prepared, let’s get into the installation process.
The Wire Install
Hopefully, you took the time to plan out the installation of your wiring and you have a good idea of where you will be running the wiring. Once you have your game plan, it’s time to get started.
How to run your wiring
To begin the installation of your amp wiring, the first step in the process is to disconnect your battery. Never work on the electrical system of your vehicle without first disconnecting the battery from the system. Failure to do so can result in electrical component damage, harm to yourself, or even start a fire, so please disconnect the battery.
Ok, so now that the battery has been disconnected, you will need to find a place to run the power wire through your firewall. In most cases, you should be able to find an existing grommet to run the wire through, but if not, you will have to drill a hole into the firewall to pass the wire through. For this, I like to use the carbide step drill bits, sometimes called the “Christmas tree bit” because of its resemblance to a Christmas tree. In order to do this, you will need to drill a hole large enough to pass the wire through and the correct size for the grommet you will use in order to protect the wire from fraying on the sharp, bare metal of the firewall and possibly causing a short.
NOTE: Please DO NOT attempt to run the power wire through the door and into the passenger cabin. Not only does this look hideous, but it is also dangerous. Closing a high current, power supply wire in your vehicle’s door is not a good idea by any means.
Once your power wire is through the firewall, you will want to install your fuse holder. I recommend installing your fuse holder no further than 6 inches from the battery. The closer you can get the fuse holder to the battery, the better. In my personal car, I installed my fuse holder on top of my vehicle’s factory fuse box. This is about 4 inches from the battery’s positive terminal. To install the fuse holder, you will need to cut your power wire using your cable cutters and then stripping only enough insulation from the wire to mount it into the fuse holder. The way you attach the wire to the fuse holder will differ depending on the fuse holder’s design. In some cases, you can just insert the stripped wire into the fuse holder and tighten it down with the set screws on the holder, but in other cases, (if you are using a fuse similar to the SMD fuse holder) you will have to add ring terminals, by either crimping them with a crimper or soldering them on, then adding heat shrink to protect the end of the wire in order to connect this style fuse holder.
Now that your power wire is through the firewall and the fuse holder has been installed, you will want to decide where to run the wire through the vehicle and to the location where your amp will be mounted. On the interior, you should try to conceal all of the wiring so that it looks nice and finished. You want to make sure all of the wires are neatly secured away from any part of the vehicle that the wire may interfere with such as a throttle or brake pedal.
In most cases, your wiring will need to be run underneath the dash, under door sill plates, behind kick panels, and other trim panels. This will require you to remove these pieces (using your panel removal tools) in order to gain access to the locations needed to run the wires, neatly, up to your amp’s mounting location. We won’t go into too much detail here because every vehicle is different and will require different ways of removing the panels, but familiarize yourself with how your vehicle is assembled and proceed that way.
RCA and Remote Turn-On
The power wire is taken care of, now we will take a look at the RCA and remote wire. The RCA cables are the cables that carry the audio signal from your head unit, to the amplifier. The remote turn-on wire will provide a turn-on “trigger” from your head unit to turn the amplifier on when the head unit is powered on. This process can vary in the degree of difficulty based on your head unit and whether or not you have an aftermarket head unit, or you are retaining your vehicle’s stock head unit.
For this post, we will say that we have an aftermarket head unit installed. In order to install the RCA and remote wire, you will have to remove your head unit from the dash. Once removed, you will see preamp RCA outputs on the back of your head unit. If your head unit has multiple preamp RCA outputs, pay attention to their labels. Many are labeled “FRONT,” “REAR,” and “SUB”. In our case, will are installing a subwoofer amp, so we will be using the “SUB” output on the head unit. Push the ends of the RCA cables into the “SUB” output of the head unit.
While you have your head unit removed from the dash, we will be looking at the wiring harness coming from the head unit. To install the remote turn-on wire, we will be looking for the wire in the harness that is labeled “REM OUT,” which is usually colored blue with a white stripe. This is the harness wire that you will connect your remote wire to. You can make this connection in various ways such as soldering, or using crimp connectors. This choice is yours, just be sure that the wires are securely connected and will not come apart later down the road.
NOTE: Do not fully replace your head unit. Leave the trim bezel and other more difficult panels free in case you need to remove the head unit again to troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
To run the RCA and remote wire through your vehicle, you may want to consider running your remote wire alongside your power wire and running the RCA cables on the opposite side of the vehicle, away from the power wires. This is not a necessity, but isolating your RCA cables from noise interference will give you the best sound and help eliminate any noise-related issues such as alternator noise. Running the RCA cables is similar to the way you ran the power wire but on the opposite side of the vehicle. Just follow the same basic procedures you made when running your power wire and bring them up to your amp’s mounting location.
With any electrical upgrade you perform on your vehicle, the ground is the most important connection of all. Without a proper ground, you will greatly limit the functionality of your components, or even damage them. To install your ground, you will want to find a good grounding point as close to the amplifier as possible. The shorter the ground wire length is, the better. You will want to pick a location that will ground your amplifier to the chassis or other structural part of your vehicle. If you can’t find a good location near your amp, then you may want to consider drilling a hole for one and bolting your ground cable to that. When drilling make sure that you will not hit anything such as the gas tank, wiring, or brake lines. Once you have your grounding point figured out, you will want to thoroughly clean the mounting surface. This will more than likely include removing the paint down to the bare metal. This will ensure the best possible ground. Now that the grounding point is clean, you will want to add a ring terminal to the end of your ground wire by crimping or soldering it on and then adding some heat shrink. You will want to then bolt your ground wire to your grounding point. Be sure to add a lock washer to the connection so the ground will not loosen over time.
The Amp Connections
At this point, you should have all the necessary wiring run through your vehicle and up to the amp’s mounting location. Now it’s time to make the connections at the amplifier. Depending on the amp’s design, look at both ends of your amp. You will see connections for the power, ground, and remote on one end and the RCA preamp inputs on the other end. This part of the install is fairly self-explanatory. You will connect your power wire to the power (+12V) input, the ground wire (-) to the ground input, the remote wire to the remote (REM) input, and finally the RCA cables to their respective location on the amplifier. Also, at this point, you can run your speaker wires to your subwoofer enclosure.
The connections have been made, now it is time to test your work. At the battery, you will want to add the correct size fuse to the fuse holder, then connect the power wire to the positive terminal of your battery, then reconnect your battery to the vehicle. Turn on your vehicle and head unit and check your amplifier to be sure that it has powered on. Almost all amplifiers have a light to indicate that it has powered one. Once you have verified that the amp has power, you can now play some music or a test tone to ensure your amp is powering your subwoofer. If everything sounds good, you can resume reinstalling your head unit and reassembling the trim panels in your vehicle.
NOTE: Your amplifier will need to have the gain levels set before you can really let loose. We will not be covering this here, today, be just something to keep in mind. Failure to set your amp’s gain properly will result in damage to your subwoofer and possibly your amplifier.
I hope this post has provided you with some of the basic knowledge needed to install your amp wiring kit and amplifier. We hope to hear you living that BASS LIFE!
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** Please note that this article provides general information on how to perform amp wiring kit install on a vehicle. Keep in mind that not all vehicles are the same and may require different installation methods and techniques to ensure a safe and effective install. By no means, am I a professional mechanic, and D4S and I, are not liable for any damages caused to your person or vehicle by following these instructions. Please consult a professional if you have any questions or concerns regarding your own vehicle and how to perform modifications such as the one explained in the previous statements.