Is it wise trying a DIY CD player replacement in a 2003 Honda Accord?

CD player died in my very low miles Accord. Dealer says its very $$ for them to replace and reluctant to do the job. Audio shops recommend installing their own unit and leave the original CD player in-place. I see new OME replacements available online for 250+. Is this a job an above average shade tree mechanic can do or is there more involved than just an uninstall and replace?


Does your head unit have a radio code?

I recommend you not have the audio shops touch your car. You can do this yourself

You can buy an aftermarket replacement unit at any big box store. The key to installing it without problems is to get an adaptor cable specific to your vehicle, under $20, usually also available at WalMart. It’ll have a plug that’ll mate directly to your OEM wiring harness with wires to splice to the aftermarket unit and clear instructions on how. Then you just splice the adaptor and the aftermarket unit on your kitchen table, remove and unplug your old unit, and plug the new unit in.

To physically dismount your old unit, procedures should be readily available on the internet or the dealer parts store can print on e for you.

I strongly recommend using the aftermarket adaptor. Butchering the harness is how cars get screwed up.

It’s a fairly easy job. Crutchfield has directions on how to get you old one out and install a new one. Be sure to buy the wiring harness to plug into your Accord. That way you don’t have to cut the cars wiring. You can buy a DIN install kit to slide in any radio you want.;jsessionid=54F8C51539438AE36FE94C432BEE2D98.bbolsp-app01-118?id=1218063857549&skuId=7199676&st=2003%20accord%20radio&cp=1&lp=1

I agree. Replace the CD player if you can get the proper wiring harness for the job. If you have to splice even one wire don’t do it. Crutchfield is my “go to” company for any vehicle radio/CD replacement.

For aftermarket, do go to Crutchfield. Local shops and certainly WalMart are not going to have when you need. A local shop could order what you need, but Crutchfield has more and better “experts” that can help you. If you use the faceplate adapter, and this is not a universal faceplate adapter as the Honda faceplate is not a standard 2 din opening, and the correct wiring adapter, it is a pretty easy job.

You will have to remove the console between the seats first. You won’t need to mess with the shifter though, the console comes off around it. Then you have to remove the AC controls and the center AC ducts along with the radio. This will be the toughest part.

You can get a used unit off ebay for around $285 and just go that route. BTW, I would not trust any of those audio shops, they sound like they want to hang an aftermarket unit under the dash like we used to do with 8 track player back in the 60’s.


No offense to any audio installers that may be reading this . . .

But over the years, I’ve seen way too many really bad audio installations. My 5 year old nephew could have done a better installation than some of the stuff I’ve seen

I suspect some of these shops don’t pay their guys enough to do a good job

I’ve done this on a Subaru, using a unit and adapter cable with very complete instructions from Crutchfield. They’re my ‘go to’ car audio shop.

FYI guys, the radio/CD are a single integrated unit with the HVAC control panel. Just changing the radio will not be easy.

@keith - Crutchfield has that covered:

texases, that’s why I recommended them in my first response. From your link, there is this statement that I was not aware of but the OP should strongly consider.

Options for the factory radio If you want to leave your Honda’s radio connected, you can still add features like Bluetooth® and iPod® connectivity by way of accessory adapters and harnesses that hook in behind the factory radio.

I added an ipod to my aftermarket radio in my Saturn and since then I have only used the radio only a few times (to listen to Car Talk) and I have never used the CD player. Go ipod and you won’t go back.

The only annoying thing about the ipod is that you can’t have a consistent audio level between songs if they came off a CD unless you download the music through a third party software like Audacity.

I agree. But, I would Get a rep on the phone and talk to someone personally with a real name and ask these questions.

Another vote for Crutchfield. Their installation instructions are highly detailed, and the installation hardware is free with units costing $120 or more. You can get a pretty good unit for less than the cost you cited for an OEM replacement.

I appreciate all your comments and help. After reading through the Crutchfield resource, I’ve concluded that successfully swapping out the old radio/cd for an identical replacement is unlikely. Keith’s comment about the single integrated unit w/ HVAC makes the job problematic - something I wouldn’t want to attempt.

Add another one for Crutchfield.

When you buy a unit from them you get a install kit that includes all wiring harnesses to hook right up to existing wiring without having to splice wires.

Have you considered the ipod or mp3 player idea. It beats CD any day.

I’ll look into the MP3/IPOD recommendation. Can these types of installs be done cosmetically appealing or are there a bunch of wires hanging out of the dash?

I’ve been putting in aftermarket radios since I was a teenager. Back then, most radios used two shafts to hold them up. The key to a good radio install is good wire management. Wires only hang out if you allow it. I tend to wrap up the wires with electrical tape to keep them together, and use zip-ties to keep them from dangling about. The harness adapters make installs very easy.

Also, when adding things like an iPod adapter, consider first where to put the iPod when your driving. On the dash, in a cubby under the radio, or under the center console arm rest? Running the adapter wire under panels as much as possible to that location will make for a much cleaner install.

My ipod is in the glove box, no visible wiring. I only use the ipod in the car and the only time I take it out is to add or delete music.