View Full Version : Wiring harnesses on Poineer head units?

11-18-2004, 12:07 PM
I have been doing some looking around at replacing parts of my stereo. Since I am also saving for new tires to go on my soon to be painted Dracos, I am wanting to do the deed a little at a time.

My 91 240 sedan already has an older Pioneer Super Tuner cassette deck installed. I took the screws out of the sides and eased it back, to see what the wiring looked like behind the thing. There is a black rectangular harness that plugs into the back of the unit and another round, coaxial looking wire on the other end (I am guessing this is the antenna - duh!).

Several discount stereo retailers around me sell inexpensive Pioneer single CD units for around 120 bucks..some are around 100 dollars. Even Wal Mart carries a 108 dollar Poineer head unit with a detatchable face. Yeah, these don't have swimming dolphin graphics or remotes...but who cares?

Will one of these inexpensive Pioneer units fit the wiring harness already being used in my car on the tape deck? If so...I guess a few screws and plugging in the harness and antenna and I have -a working CD player...right?

Sorry to seem so stupid on this. I know mechanical aspects of cars and some electrical (lights and ignition), but have never done much stereo work. Still, this looks super easy...could it be that easy? Is this something I can install myself? Sure would be a cheap way to better sound.

I already put the 4" Alpine 2 ways in the front doors and want to disconnect the rear door 4 inchers and run those wires to the trunk and hook them to two 6x9 3-way Alpines on the package rack. I then want to add an in-trunk amp later on. The 4 inchers in the front doors were easy...4 screws and plug in the wires and attach the grilles...presto..a little better sound already.

Can I do most of this stereo stuff myself...or is it easier to suck it up and pay a pro? It does not look all that hard.


- 91Brick

PS- I am not a total audiophile and don't even have an alarm on this car and it sits outside on my driveway at night, so I don't want to dump tons of bucks on a killer system (like my truck)..it will just make my car a magnet for the smash and grab thieves.

11-18-2004, 12:31 PM
Honestly, the Pioneer units aren't bad, but having had an Alpine HU for about a year now, it's amazing how clear the audio is compared to the pioneer. That being said, it kinda depends if Pioneer changed their plug configuration at some point as to if your existing harness will plug in. Also depending on who installed your previous stereo, if no wires were cut, you can get an adapter to a smart harness and an adapter from the smart harness to the pioneer. Otherwise, the simple way to do it if you're familiar with splicing wires, and the existing plug doesn't match the plug on a new unit, simply cut off the old plug, match the wire colors (should be the same colors as that's somewhat standard now) and it'll be plug-n-play most likely. You won't really know until you get the new unit but they should have info on the standard wire colors on the pigtail that comes with the radio.

As for the rear deck speakers, you should be able to pull the harness from the doors, add some wire to it and run it to the amp/rear speakers pretty easily. As long as you know how to run wires and all the minor trim R&R that goes along with it, you'll be fine. Judging by your knowledge of painting and othe rminor repairs, you seem mechanically knowledgable and have some common sense. As the saying goes...just do it!

Volv-a-Ratti Man
11-18-2004, 12:38 PM
I found that the best of the 'cheap' head units are Kenwood. I got one for $100 with just a casette deck, but controls for a CD changer which is under the front seat. I prefer this over the in-dash CD.
You will find that todays modern decks won't be compatible with the older plug style, so you'll need to re-wire the deck with a new connector no matter which one you get. It's pretty simple so you could do it yourself.
Look for a head unit that has both RCA outputs for both front & rear channels. It will be better to leave the door speakers and wires in place, and run a separate set of RCA cables to an amp to run the 6x9's. The cheaper ones will only have one RCA out, which is always the front, not rear channels.

11-18-2004, 05:44 PM
Yeah...I think I'll go for it. This stereo thingy will keep me occupied, while I am waiting on the wheel paint to dry.

Judging by what I saw in the store and what I saw when I pulled out the tape deck in the dash, the harnesses look very close, if not the same in size. This tape deck may not be all that old. I'll be overjoyed if it is plug and play (being an old Mac user..I like plug and play electrical devices!).

Either way, I am going to track down my good wire stripper from the toolbox in my truck and buy a crimper and some extra connectors and electrical tape...you know...just in case.

Worst case..I take the whole damn thing to the Mobil-One location right by my house and have them put the thing in - if things go horribly wrong, but it does not look that daunting. The front door speakers took me maybe 30 minutes, tops.

You must understand..I don't like electrcal things...I like mechanical things, so I am still a bit nervous, but it really looks to be fairly straightforeward and I plan on going slow with the whole process.

I just cannot wait to get a CD player in this thing...radio stations in this city really suck. I never knew how bad they were, until I started driving this car with no CD player. I don't know how people can stand FM in this city and I'd hate to have these sources as the only formation of my musical tastes....yuck!



11-18-2004, 05:54 PM
I know the feeling. At least here we've got a couple half-way decent stations, but still I prefer music over some blabbering idiot who calls himself a dj.
As for the electrical stuff, take a deep breath, look everything over first, write down a plan of attack if you're really that nervous, and have at. Shouldn't be that hard. Also, if they didn't cut the original plug off the harness in the car, you can unplug that and splice any wires with it out of the car and gauranteed no voltage to anything so nothing shorting out. Just a thought.
Just don't freak out about it. It's not as hard as you're telling yourself. If you can do the speakers in 30 minutes, this may take you 45-60 TOPS.

11-18-2004, 06:35 PM
They did cut the origina plug off and spliced in the Pioneer black rectangular styled harness. I really think this is the same size as the one on the new unit. If so...I'll have CD capability in 10 minutes. (I am buying the head unit tomorrow)

Otherwise, everything is color-coded and I'll just match everything up and see what happens.

You cannot blow out anything vital on the car by wrongly hooking up the radio...can you? Surely, thats what the fuse box is for.

The only fear I have is that I'll cross something and take out my dash lights or headlights. Thats not possible..is it?


11-18-2004, 07:15 PM
Unless you've got some really weird wiring, the only thing you'll do is pop a fuse at worst, but if you're that worried, just unhook the battery while splicing, double-check your wiring when you're done, then hook up the battery again. It's not like you'll loose your presets or anything. :)

Volv-a-Ratti Man
11-18-2004, 07:31 PM
I would do the battery cable removal anyway because the radio usually has a hot wire directly to the battery for a power antenna. Even if it's not used, it's there. Often there's an extra wire for the radio lights that hook up to the dash light, but it can be jumpered to light only when the radio is on by tying it into the switched wire that powers up the deck. You may already have this wire tied into the console lighting.
Many shops offer free installation if you buy a deck over $100. I know that both Best Buy and Ultimate Elec do this, so you may want to go to one of these guys and feel more at ease.

11-22-2004, 02:31 PM
Well, despite the fact that Houston turned into Thailand this past weekend, with horrific monsoon-like rains, I did manage to get the head unit in, between rain showers. It was not that difficult..I went slow and replaced one wire at a time from harness to harness...took maybe an hour, tops. I was going very slow and transferring one wire at a time.

Since I was running out of daylight and dry hours, I was not able to get the 200W amp in or the 6x9 3-ways on the rear deck, so I threw my other two extra 4" Alpine 2ways in the rear doors real quick.

Nice sound...not as much low end as I want, but the 6x9s and the amp will help it. Maybe after the holidays, I can get the rest of the work done, if it drys out. For now though, the new CD player and replacements for the stock Volvo speakers in the back doors will keep me from going insane with that crappy old tape deck.


11-22-2004, 02:55 PM
What HU did you get? I had a 3300 and with my Pioneer d690r 6x9's in the back, with the loudness on LOW, I had enough bass to start making things rattle, crank it to med. or high and the deck didn't have NEARLY enough power to make it sound worth anything. Went to my Alpine unit, with better sound but half the bass so it will need a sub, but it's got some nicer features. The Pioneer was great compared to the stock 2x4w cassette deck I had before. :)
Glad it's in. Now, wasn't that easy.

11-22-2004, 04:40 PM
I think the Pioneer Hu is called the dbh-16 or something like that. It was a fairly low-end unit, but since I drive this car to work in a crappy neighborhood, I was not going to spend tons on a great system. I think the thing ran me about 108 dollars at Wal Mart. Detatchable face, 18 pre-sets and 50x4 watts. Cheap, but workable.

I have always put more money into the speakers and amp, than the head unit. In my Silverado, I actually have the stock head unit, hooked up to aftermarket speakers and amps under the rear seats. A quick glance inside my truck and you'd think I only have the stock stereo. I even put the stock speaker grilles back on, to further fool the thieves.

On the Blue Brick, the Alpine 2 way 4"ers in the front doors were already there, when I was running the Pioneer tape deck. I had two more in my garage and since it took 5 minutes to take out the old Volvo dual-cone 4"er stock speakers from the back doors, I decided on temporarliy putting the things in the rear doors. I have a set of 6x9 3-way Pioneers to go on the rear deck and my old 200w Rockford Fosgate amp that will mount in the trunk wall nicely for later on.

I just don't know whether or not it would be wise to try to hook up all 4 door speakers AND the 6x9s, or just run the front doors and the 6x9s on the rear deck off the amp. The amp and the 6x9s in the rear deck ought to give me pretty good bass.


Volv-a-Ratti Man
11-22-2004, 05:09 PM
If I were you I would run all the door speakers off the speaker outs on the deck and run the rear set RCA pre-outs to the amp for the 6x9's. This way you can balance the signal to the 6x9's and optimize the 6x9's sound settings external to the head unit.
Your fader and balance should still work for both the door and the rear deck.

11-22-2004, 06:17 PM
Seems like that unit may only have a sub output which has a fader control built in. Does DEH-P16 sound familiar? That's Pioneer's base model from Wally-world. Like you said, it's better than a cassette, but not top-end. I'd probably follow Peter's suggestion as well with running the door's of the HU and the 6x9's off the amp. Should equalize out with a little fiddling and sounds pretty good.

11-22-2004, 06:52 PM
Yes, it is a DEH-P16...decent for 108 bucks. The more expensive units ahd remotes and cooler graphic displays, but I am not really into that stuff. This unit will be fine for my needs.

Peter, that is a great idea...I think when I get around to installing the 6x9s, I'll rig it up that way. The 6x9s and amp are REALLY goign to help this system - it won't be the best, but it will be fairly good for the small amount of money I have in it.