CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Switching out radio - 97 ford explorer

I am trying to switchout the radio on my 97 ford explorer. Th e problem i am running into is that it had a cd changer installed. So the wire harness kit that is supposed to work for it doesn’t. Only 1/2 of it fits.
It is the speaker wires that don’t match up.
This is the connector coming from my car that i need to get connected to the new stereo for the speakers.
(see picture)
the harness kit came with 2 of the long thin ones off the back - one of them plugs in fine - the other one doesn’t match this.

I’m not an expert on Fords, but often times premium radios (that include an amp, CD changer, etc.) have a different wiring harness, as you’ve found. You might have the standard Ford adapter, which yes I believe was two separate pieces. You might need to talk to Crutchfield or a local expert car stereo shop to get the right harness setup. Does the Explorer also have premium audio (with an amp)? If so, there might be more adapters and other connectivity required.

If you can’t find a wiring harness that will work and need to cut some wires, a factory service manual may help identify what is what. I also recommend crutchfield.com. They actually have photos of inside the dash of most cars and can tell you within a fraction of an inch whether a new radio will fit and how you will need to wire it. If you didn’t buy from them though, I can understand their reluctance to help you :slight_smile:

I’ve also found that making a good guess at which are the speaker wires, then using a flashlight battery, like a AA or D-cell to briefly connect to what I think are the speaker wires, can help identify which speaker is which. You will get a gentle ‘pop’ in the speaker when you make/break contact. Don’t leave the battery connected, just touch the wires briefly to the battery. A brief pulse of 1.5 volts shouldn’t hurt anything. Use a meter or test light between the wires and each wire and ground first to make sure you aren’t hooking 12V across the battery, or the battery could burn you or burst. If the vehicle has external amps, this method of identifying speakers won’t work, as the amp(s) would need to be powered up. If you think this is lunatic advice or don’t understand what I’m saying, you might want to just take it to a shop that does these installations and let them suffer the pain of figuring it out.