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Mostly Mozart


How to replace the stereo in a Toyota
Posted September 11, 2001

This page might help you if you have a 2002 Corolla, 1992 Tercel, 1993 pickup, or similar. Like everything else on this web site, there's no warranty here.

Replace the CD player.

To pull the plastic baffle off the dashboard: Adjust the heating vents so they point downwards. Grab the plastic bar between the heating vents and the stereo. Pull.

Remove the screws from the front of the mounting brackets. Pull out the crappy stereo. Unplug the antenna and the wiring harnesses. Transfer the mounting brackets to your new stereo. Cut off the big wiring harness (unless you're lucky enough to have a replacement stereo that accepts the same kind). Connect the wires to the wires on your new stereo's harness.

Which wire is which? Your new $500 stereo probably came with an installation guide showing the stereo's colour code, but your new $20 000 car came with a big fat nothing. Here's the Corolla's colour code:

Pin 1, green: front right speaker (+)
Pin 2, pink: front left speaker (+)
Pin 3, grey: +12V only when ignition switch is at ON or ACC
Pin 4, blue with yellow stripe: +12V, always on
Pin 5, blue: front right speaker (-)
Pin 6, violet: front left speaker (-)
Pin 7, brown: ground

The rear speaker connections are on the smaller harness:

Pin 1, red: rear right speaker (+)
Pin 2, black: rear left speaker (+)
Pin 3, white: rear right speaker (-)
Pin 6, yellow: rear left speaker (-)

Replace the front speakers.

There are (at least) two screws in the plastic door panels: a metal one in the latch assembly and a plastic one at the rear end of the door. There are also several plastic snaps around the bottom and sides.

I haven't done this part yet, but here's what my (very agreeable and helpful) dealer told me. Remove the window crank by pulling out the metal ring from the side (there's a special tool for this). Remove the rubbery armrest surface. The armrest doesn't come off easily, and you can break it if you pull the wrong way. Now, only the plastic snaps are holding the panel onto the door, so you can just pull it off.

When I've done more, I'll post the results here.

Other cars

Jeff's 1992 Tercel (also from Canada) uses the following colours on the big wiring harness:

Brown: ground
Grey: +12V only when ignition switch is at ON or ACC (for the stereo's main power)
Green: +12V only when parking lights or headlights are on (for the stereo's dimmer)
Blue with yellow stripe: +12V, always on (for the stereo's "memory")

If you mistakenly connect the Tercel's green wire to your stereo's ground (perhaps thinking that green always means ground), everything will work except that your taillights will blow their fuse as soon as you turn them on. Oops. The fuse is behind a plastic panel, to the left of the hood release lever.

Perhaps someday I will borrow my Toyota dealer's entire library of electrical manuals, and post the wire colours for all Canadian models. Until then, you're welcome to send me the results of your own experiments.


I'm trying to put a Kenwood CD player into my 93 toyota pickup. [...] After separating the speaker wires from the rest, here's what's left over:

one grey
My grey wire is the stereo's power; ie. on when ignition is ON/ACC

one blue w/ yellow stripe
Mine is always on, even when ignition is off/start (for stereo's "memory" power: remembering where it left off on the CD, volume, etc)

one red w/ black stripe
Some cars have a wire that comes on when the lights are on, so your stereo can dim its lights at night. This wire might do that.

one green
Green is a traditional colour for "ground". So this could be your ground.

You're a f*****g genius. It works! It works! The damn thing works! Thank you very much! I owe you one. I'm sending you a bottle of Californian wine [...]

(A. Non, CA US)

I have taken the door skins off my 2002 Levin (the Aussie 'Sports' model) and was shocked to find a couple of VERY customised speakers with an integrated door mounting device. These are the strangest things I've ever seen!

The GREAT thing is that because the original speaker assembly and the hole in the metal is sooooo large you can fit quite a decent size speaker ... I'd say even up to a nice 6.5" driver! This was the problem I faced with my 1996 Corolla, I couldn't fit anything above a 5.25" driver in the original hole in the door without increasing the size of the hole by hacking the metal out. This kinda limits the range of speakers you can install therefore limiting the audio system performance (of course).

(Stephen Bell, Brisbane AU)

i saw your page on how to wire a toyota carola, just wanted to say thanks!!!
it really helped me with my tacoma, without it i would have been reallllllyy frustrated!

(Neville, CA US)