Subaru SVX
Receiver and Speaker Installation

Version 3.08

By David Carter

[Table of Contents] [Section 1: Introduction] [Section 2: Radio Removal / Replacement] [Section 3: Speaker Removal / Replacement] [Section 4: Final Notes] [Next] [Previous]

2 Radio Removal / Replacement

2.1  Why Is This So Hard?

Several things have made this task a little difficult:

The following removal / installation steps address all of these issues.

2.2  Tools / Parts Required

2.2.1  Tools Required

2.2.2  Parts Required

2.3  Radio Removal 

Caution: Replacement dash and radio trim parts for the SVX are extremely expensive.  You'll be very unhappy if you scratch or break something.  Don't rush, and as you remove these parts, find a safe place to store them while you're working.

2.3.1  Preliminary Steps


It's better to do this in daylight, so you have more ambient light inside your car.



Set the parking brake.  It might be a good idea to chock the wheels also.



Disconnect the cable from the negative terminal of the car battery.  There are wires (plural!) going to the radio that are always hot, even when the Ignition (key) switch is "off."  If you omit this step and blow some fuses, don't say I didn't warn you.  Reminder: If you have the security system, after you reconnect the battery you may need to go through the procedure to "relearn" your remote transmitters.



Gearshift Lock ReleaseWith the Ignition switch Off and key removed, follow the procedure (in your SVX Owners Manual) to manually release the Gearshift Selector Lever lock so you can move the lever to the 1st gear position.  You need to do this to have enough room to slide out the radio cage.

Tip for later model years: To release the lock, you must open the little access panel and insert a screwdriver into the hole.  Insert only about 1/2" below the sliding metal piece.  The lock release mechanism is a metal lever just below the hole.  It's possible for a small screwdriver to go past the lever to the side, so it helps to angle the tip of the screwdriver just a little towards the right (and the handle towards the left).  When you touch the release lever, you should feel a slight springy resistance.  Push it down just a little, then you'll be able to push the thumb button on the gearshift lever.  While still holding the thumb button, remove the screwdriver, then move the gearshift down to 1st.


5. Remove the front ashtray: Open the ashtray door, and slide the entire ashtray/door assembly straight out from the dash.

2.3.2  Disconnect the Antenna Cables

The SVX has two (2 !) antennas (more about this in section 2.5.5).  The antenna cables coming out the rear of the radio are about 17" long.  Even so, there is only about an inch of slack.  Until you unplug these cables, you won't be able to slide the radio cage out of the dash far enough to do anything.

The antenna cables have traditional Motorola connectors.  These are located under the carpet on the left side of the transmission hump, between the back of the radio console and the accelerator pedal (on Left-Hand Drive cars).

To uncover the antenna connections:


Tilt your steering wheel all the way up (on LHD cars).



Transmission HumpThere is a small plastic trim panel on the left side of the transmission hump, between the carpet and the radio/gearshift console.  It's attached from behind by three plastic "snap" fasteners.  Remove this panel by lifting it away from the transmission hump.  The edge of the panel nearest to the seat has a tab that interlocks with the next plastic panel, so you'll need to tilt the piece slightly to separate the two panels (see large picture for details).  Just do this slowly without using excessive force.



There is a round, flat-headed plastic "nut" in the carpet, on the left side of the hump (near the accelerator pedal on LHD cars).  Use a flat-bladed screwdriver to unscrew this nut.



Antenna Connections UncoveredGrab the top edge of the carpet and pull it away from the hump and down towards the floor.  Reach behind the carpet to grab the antenna cables and disconnect them.


5. Make note of how the radio's antenna cables are routed, so you can run your new antenna cable the same way.  Or if you prefer, attach a 3 foot long piece of string to one of the radio's cables, to use as a "pull-rope" later.  It's not too difficult to thread the new cable without it, though.

2.3.3  Remove the Radio Cage From the Dash

The SVX radio is mounted inside a metal "cage" (AKA "holder" / "housing" / "can" / "mounting bracket").  The cage does several things:

This is all you need to know for now.  Section 2.4.1, below, describes the cage in more detail (so you can determine what receivers will fit).  To remove the cage assembly:


Open the Audio Cover door.



Audio Door rear panel splitOn the backside of this door, you'll see a black plastic piece that covers the latch release mechanism.  It simply snaps onto the door.  To remove it, raise the door slightly (like you're starting to close it) and gently pry the black piece apart from the door.  It should be possible to do this without any tools — grasp the piece with your fingers wrapped around the back side and rotate the back up and towards you.  If yours is on really tight, you can carefully pry it off with a small, flat-bladed screwdriver.  After you release the snaps, lift the whole piece up then out.  Click on the picture to see close-up views of the trim piece.



Cage Bottom ScrewYou'll now be able to see one screw at the bottom of the radio cage.  It secures both the metal cage and the bottom of the black plastic bezel (trim piece that surrounds the front of the factory radio/CD player stack).  Remove the screw.  Be careful not to drop it inside the dash.  This is where a magnetic screwdriver is really handy.  Gavin suggested that some SVX's might have a second screw, but since neither his, Randy's, nor my car had it, I think this is a myth.



Bezel - detail showing prongBezelRemove the black plastic bezel.  The top is held in by two prongs that protrude into the dash cavity (towards the front of the car).  It helps to slide the entire bezel downward (towards the floor); then you can tilt the top of the bezel away from the radio (towards you).  On mine, the left prong came loose easily.  I was able to free the right one by placing my fingers under the top ledge of the bezel and pushing upwards, then using that friction to pull the top out.  If your bezel is clipped in really tightly, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to grab the top ledge and gently pull it out towards you.  Once the top is unclipped, slide the entire bezel outwards (towards you).


5. Cage Top ScrewsWith the bezel out of the way, you can now see the two screws near the top edge of the radio cage, on the far left and right sides.  Remove these screws.


6. Close the Audio Cover door.  The door and latch-post are attached to the radio cage, and will be coming out along with it.


7. Cover the parking brake lever, the lower part of the center console, and the gearshift lever with a thick towel.


8. Cage Out 1 InchReach in through the hole opened up by the missing ashtray and gently slide the radio cage out toward you.  If you can't get enough of a grip on the bottom of the cage, you can also grab the bottom edge of the Audio Cover door with your other hand and pull gently.  Pull the cage out about an inch and stop.


9. Now that there's a gap, pull up the front end of the towel so that it also covers the cigarette lighter pod.  Tuck a little behind the pod so the towel doesn't slide off.  The bottom-left-rear corner of the cage will be squeezing by here in a moment.


10. Cardboard ShoehornsHere's where the plastic putty knife or cardboard rectangles may be necessary: The hinges of the Audio Cover door stick out the sides of the cage about 1/4" on the left and 3/8" on the right.  These can snag on the gray trim that folds around the left and right sides of the center console.  There is a small gear on the right side that's very sharp.  Use the putty knife or cardboard like a shoehorn between the sides of the cage and the console.  The cardboard does a better job of preventing the cage from damaging the gray trim.  Be sure to raise the cardboard up beside the metal "ears" where the upper screws went.


11. The bottom-front edge of the cage has a flange, extending down about 1/2".  The bottom screw went through this.  It should now be about an inch forward of the crossbar that the screw attached to.  Reach back into the ashtray hole and continue pulling the cage using the flange.  Don't try to pull or lift the entire weight of the cage by just the door.


12. The very last 1/2" of the cage has an extra thickness of metal on each side (it's where the back plate is welded to the sides of the cage).  This may catch on the tabs in the dash where the two upper screws mounted.  Just angle the whole cage right and left slightly and apply a little more pressure.  Watch those sharp edges out front!  Pull the cage all the way out from the console.


13. SVX Radio ConnectorDisconnect the SVX Radio Connector from the radio (and the two-pin illumination connector from the CD player, if you have one).  There is a lock button on the top edge of each connector; push it down to unlock.


14. Make note of how the factory radio's antenna cables are routed up here, so you can run your new antenna cable(s) the same way.  Pull the antenna cables completely out.  If you attached a string, re-tie the end on the crossbar for now.


15. Put the cage down somewhere where it won't scratch anything.

2.3.4  Check the Receiver Wiring Adapter

Before you go any further, check that the SVX's Radio Connector will plug into the Receiver Wiring Adapter.  If they aren't a matching male/female pair, you'll have to figure out what kind you really have in the SVX, and get a Receiver Wiring Adapter that does match (if you can post a picture to the MOD Mania forum at, I might be able to help, but no promises).  If the connectors do look like they match, test the fit.  The two connectors should mate easily; if not, make sure that all the pins are straight on the Receiver Wiring Adapter.

2.3.5  Remove the Radio From the Cage

Max Screw Size StampThe factory radio and CD player are each attached to the cage by two screws on the left and right sides.  Remove these screws and slide the radio and CD player out the front of the cage.  If the screws have the same threads as the mounting holes on your new receiver and they are not too long, reuse them — the heads are a good shape for the indentations on the cage.  On many receivers, the size and maximum allowed depth for the screws is stamped on the sides of the metal chassis.

Cover PlateIf your SVX does not have the factory CD player, then you'll have a cover plate in the lower half of the cage, held in by two screws.  If you'll be installing a receiver and other components whose total size is larger than a single-DIN, remove this cover plate.

2.4  Filling the Cage

2.4.1  What Will Fit In the Cage?

This section should help you figure out whether a particular new receiver (and any other component) will fit.  These measurements are from my 1996.  I've been told that the cage has remained the same through all of the model years — same part number and dimensions.

Cage AssemblySince you'll probably want to keep the Audio Cover door, you'll need to reuse the SVX factory cage with your new receiver.  The good news is that you won't need to buy any kind of  "mounting kit."  If for some strange reason you can't or don't want to use the factory cage, you're in for some major custom metalwork to make a replacement mounting bracket.  Better to reuse the factory cage.  At worst, you might need to drill some new holes in the sides to line up with the mounting holes on your new receiver.

The interior of the radio cage is 7-1/16" (17.9cm) wide, 4" (10.1cm) tall, and 6-5/8" (16.9cm) deep.  A single DIN component is 2" tall by 7" wide.  So, the cage can hold one or two single-DIN-sized components, or one double-DIN-sized component.  The depth measurement does not include the space where a receiver's faceplate goes; keep reading.

Cage - RearThere is a large opening in the back of the cage that would allow a new receiver to have protrusions longer than 6-5/8".  But behind the cage you start running into other structures, ducts, and wiring tubes anywhere from 0 to 1" further back.  And remember, all of that extra speaker/power wire bundle has to fit back there somewhere.

Cage - SideThere are mounting holes on each of the left and right sides of the cage, about 7/32" (6mm) in diameter.  The lower DIN bay has two mounting holes per side.  They are both 1" up from the bottom (this is exactly in the middle of the 2" tall single-DIN slot); one is 1-7/8" in from the front and the other is 3-1/2" in from the front.  The upper DIN bay has three mounting holes per side.  Two are similar to the lower bay's holes (except they are 1" down from the top — again, exactly in the middle of the 2" tall single-DIN slot).  The third hole is 5/8" down from the top and 1-1/16" in from the front.

There is a large vent hole on each side.  They are approximately 3-1/8" (80mm) in diameter, about 1/2" in from the back, and centered 2" up/down from the bottom/top.

Front Clearance - Top View Face Clearance - Top View
Front Clearance - Side View Face Clearance - Side View

From the front edge of the cage to the rear of the Audio Cover door (when closed) there is anywhere from 7/8" to 2" space.  The smallest clearance is in the upper bay, on the side above the cigarette lighter.  The largest is in the lower bay.  This is how much room you'll have for your new receiver's faceplate and any protruding knobs or buttons.  The front of my JVC's chassis mounted flush with the front edge of the cage.

You can gain a little more space by not re-installing the black plastic piece that came off the backside of the Audio Cover door (the part you removed in step 2 of section 2.3.3, above).  I read that a stereo installer melted a smooth, round hole in that piece to leave clearance for a tall volume knob on a customer's receiver.

Bear in mind that since the front of the cage is inset into the dash (below the Climate Control pod), a receiver with an oversized foldout face that extends above the top of the receiver won't fit in the upper DIN bay.  Similarly, one whose face folds down below the bottom of the receiver won't fit in the lower DIN bay.

Here's a link to an exploded diagram of the radio cage in the 1992 SVX, from  You can edit the "1992" in the URL to see the other model years, but all are very similar.  The diagram also lists the prices for the individual parts and assemblies — make sure you're sitting down when you read these.  Prices from Subaru dealerships are even higher!

2.4.2  Mounting Your New Receiver


If your new receiver has a removable faceplate, leave it off to keep from scratching it, except while you check for fit.



If there is a support bolt or stud protruding from the rear of your receiver (possibly with a rubber cap on the end), remove it.  It is not needed on the SVX, and would just prevent you from sliding the cage all the way back into the dash.



Most DIN-sized receivers include a metal mounting sleeve that slips around the front.  You won't need this to install the receiver in the cage.



Slide your receiver into the cage.


5. Determine the proper depth that you need to mount your receiver in the cage for the faceplate to work (i.e., so you can flip it open to load a CD, or to remove it, if it does either).  Verify that the Audio Cover door can still open and close completely.  If it looks like it will be a tight fit, temporarily reinstall the black plastic cover piece that goes on the back side of the Audio Cover door (the part you removed in step 2 of section 2.3.3, above).  If your receiver has a motorized door, you might even need to wire up the harness and plug it in temporarily so you can make sure the receiver's door will have room to work.


6. If the existing mounting holes on the sides of the cage line up with mounting holes on your receiver, great!  Use either the screws from the factory radio (if they're the correct thread and not too long), or else screws that came with your new receiver.  The existing holes worked for Gavin's Sony, Randy's Blaupunkt, and my JVC.

If the holes in the cage do not line up with ones on your receiver, you'll have to drill some new ones.  Measure very carefully.  Consider using a drill press to make these holes.  At the very least, clamp the cage to your workbench in a way that keeps the door and its hardware from being damaged while you drill.

If you need to make any more extensive modifications to the cage, you're on your own.  If you're not sure what to do, try posting a message on the MOD Mania forum at


7. If you're adding a CD changer, amplifier, satellite radio receiver, or any other component to the second DIN bay, repeat these steps.


8. Check the fit of the SVX's bezel (the part you removed in step 4 of section 2.3.3, above).  You may need to trim or file it to fit around your new receiver.  Mine fit with no modification needed.  I also did not need to use my receiver's faceplate trim ring.

2.4.3  Adding a Pocket

Pocket with CDsMost after-market receivers today are single-DIN sized.  If you aren't planning to install a second component in the other DIN bay, a plastic pocket makes much better use of the space than a simple cover plate.  It gives you a convenient place to store things like CDs and sunglasses.  I wouldn't put candy bars in there though; the pocket can get fairly hot from the transmission and receiver.

In addition to selling new pockets, many stereo install shops have a pile of ones they've removed from other vehicles.  If you ask nicely enough, they'll probably give you one free.  Crutchfield also carries new ones, and might give you one free when you order a car receiver from them.

PocketThe nice folks at Crutchfield gave me a model UPK-750 pocket by American International that works very well.  It's actually intended for a whole bunch of other cars, including 1994-2000 Ford Mustangs.  It has room to hold four single-CD jewel cases.  What's really nice about this pocket is that it has side rails that mount to the cage.  The pocket itself just slides onto the rails.  So you can leave it out while you reinstall the cage, and slide in the pocket as a final step.  With the pocket gone, you can reach in and guide the wires out of the way as you slide the cage back into the dash.

For the UPK-750 to fit, you'll need to cut off the tip of one post on each of the side rails.  Then mount the rails to the cage with one screw per side, using existing mounting holes in the cage.  Don't tighten the screws completely, or the pocket won't engage the rails.  Some shims might help.  Practice sliding the pocket in and out while the cage is out of the car.

Although the kit includes a trim ring for the front, it reduces the size of the opening to where only three CDs would fit.  Plus, it's about 1/16" too wide — that excess would have to be filed off for it to fit inside the cage.  So I decided not to use the pocket's trim ring.

2.4.4  Other Possibilities

Some people have installed extra gauges in the lower DIN space (e.g., transmission oil temp, oil pressure, voltmeter, air/fuel ratio, etc.).  Although the specifics go beyond the scope of this document, I mention it here as food for thought.  Someone also mentioned hamsters.

2.5  Receiver Wiring 

2.5.1  SVX Radio Connector Pin-out

Gavin created the original version of the following table based on information from a 1994 Service Bulletin.  I've added the information in Column "B" and for pins 4, 13, 14, 15, and 16:

Table 2.5.1
Subaru SVX Radio Connector
(Speaker / Power Wiring)
Pin Assignments

Pin #


Column "A"
SVX Radio Connector
Wire Color

to car's Speakers, etc.

Column "B"
Receiver Wiring Adapter
Wire Color
(EIA Standard)
to Receiver

1 Right Rear Speaker + Blue / Yellow Violet
2 Left Rear Speaker + White / Red Green
3 (none) NC NC
4 Illumination + * Red Orange*
5 +12 Volt Memory Blue / Red Yellow
  (gap for connector lock)    
6 +12 Volt Accessory Brown / Red Red
7 (none) NC NC
8 Right Front Speaker + Red / Yellow Gray
9 Left Front Speaker + Brown / White White
10 Right Rear Speaker - Red / White Violet / Black
11 Left Rear Speaker - Red / Black Green / Black
12 (none) NC NC
13 Dimmer (Illum. -)* Red / Black Orange / White*
14 Night Illum. Dimness Cancel.* Pink [Orange / Black]*
15 Phone Mute NC NC
16 Audio Satellite Switches Black / White NC
17 Ground Black Black
18 Power Antenna + Black / Green Blue
19 Right Front Speaker - White / Black Gray / Black
20 Left Front Speaker - Green White / Black

* Illumination and Dimmer Wires — see table 2.5.2a, below



Pin numbers on shellThe pin numbers are stamped on the sides of the connectors, on the hinged flaps at the rear that lock in the wires.  The numbers are very hard to read until you hold the connector at just the right angle in the light.



When two colors are listed, the first is the main color and the second is the stripe color.



"NC" means there is no metal contact at that position in the connector shell (and thus no wire).



Column "A" lists the wires on the SVX Radio Connector.  This is the plug whose wires disappear behind the dash and go to the speakers, etc.  Randy confirmed that the wiring is the same as his 1992, Gavin his 1995, and I my 1996.  You might want to verify that the wires on the connector in your car match this column, just to be sure a previous owner or car stereo installer didn't change your car's wiring.


e. Beware that the SVX Radio Connector has two Red / Black wires (pins 11 and 13). Both stripes are exactly the same (i.e., one isn't "spiraled").  Aren't you glad you don't need to cut off this connector or splice into these wires anymore?


f. Column "B" lists the wires on the Receiver Wiring Adapter (the part that you will crimp or solder to your receiver's wires).  These are the EIA standard wire colors, used by after-market receiver and wiring adapter manufacturers.  Use this column to verify that the adapter was assembled correctly (and, if you remove the wires from the shell while you solder them, use this column when you re-insert them).


g. The wires on your new after-market receiver will likely be colored the same as Column "B" but may not bePlease check your receiver's installation instructions to be certain!  Connect the wires according to function, not necessarily by color.  If the manuals are missing, look on your receiver manufacturer's web site for online or downloadable copies (perhaps under "Technical Support").


h. There are three pins related to dash illumination — 4, 13, and 14.  They are described in detail in section 2.5.2, below.


i. There are no separate terminals on the SVX Radio Connector for the tweeters.  These speakers connect in parallel to the door speakers, branching off at points behind the dash.  Even if your SVX did not come with factory tweeters, it still has the wires and connectors, ready for you to add your own (covered in section 3).

Here is the SVX Radio & Clock Wiring Diagram (JPEG file, 214,844 bytes), scanned from a Subaru service manual (year unknown).  Notes about this diagram:


"L" stands for Blue; "Br" for Brown; "B" for Black.



The Illumination (pin 4) and Dimmer (pin 13) wires disappear into the dash along with all of the other wires.  They do not just loop back into the CD Illumination connector (as indicated by the diagram).  These pins, plus Dimmer pin 14, all receive power from the dash illumination/dimmer circuitry (from the Time Control Unit).  See section 2.5.2 for more about the Illumination wires, and section 2.5.3 for more information on the TCU.



JDM SVX Steering WheelPin 16 really does have a contact and wire (Black with White stripe).  This is for the "audio satellite switches" (buttons for radio power on/off, volume up/down, AM/FM, etc.) on the steering wheel in some JDMs (Japanese Domestic Models).  And before anyone asks, no, it does not have buttons labeled "A" for jacks, "B" for enhanced tire treads, "C" for buzz saws, ...


m. There is no crossover circuitry (low-pass/high-pass filter) in the SVX's speaker wiring.  If you need this (e.g., for new tweeters), you'll have to add your own.  Many (most?) new component tweeters include their own crossovers.

2.5.2  Illumination and Dimmer Wires

Many receivers today have an Illumination or Dimmer wire.  This section will help you decide where to connect it.

There are three (3 !) wires on the SVX Radio Connector related to instrument illumination.  If you want to know why, take a close look at your dash one night (especially the radio) and watch how many different ways all of the lights change brightness as you play with the various light controls (see below).  Here's what these wires do in my 1996 ("your mileage may vary"):

Table 2.5.2a
SVX Radio Connector
Illumination and Dimmer Pins
Pin # Measured voltages (with respect to ground)
  Default When {Ignition switch is On}   AND
            {Headlights switch is on   Parking  OR  Headlights}
4 Normally 0 volts. Becomes +12 volts.  Unaffected by the instrument Illumination Brightness Control, or by the BRIGHT switch.
13 Normally 0 volts. Varies from +10 down to 0 volts as the instrument Illumination Brightness Control is rotated from dimmest to brightest, respectively (i.e. "dimmest" = +10 volts, "brightest" = 0 volts).  Unaffected by the BRIGHT switch.
14 Normally about +0.75 volts (even when Ignition is Off). Becomes +12 volts. When BRIGHT switch pressed (dash in "bright" mode), goes back to +0.75 volts.  Press BRIGHT again (dash in "normal" mode), returns to +12 volts.  Unaffected by the Illumination Brightness Control.

None of these wires are affected by the Parking light switch — this switch only activates the exterior parking/marker lights, not the instrument illumination.

Just so everyone knows what I'm talking about, these are the "official" names for the various switches (from the 1996 SVX owners manual):

Table 2.5.2b
SVX Headlights / Dash Illumination Controls

"Official" Name  Description

Headlights switch

Three position "knob" (Off / Parking / Headlights) near the tip of the turn signal lever.

Instrument Illumination Brightness Control

Dimmer ring, on the turn signal lever just to the right of the Headlights switch.

BRIGHT switch ("Night Illumination Dimness Cancellation")

Button (momentary, but works like a push on / push off) on the tip of the turn signal lever.

Parking light switch

Button (push on / push off) next to the Remote Control Mirror Switch.

Most aftermarket receivers have a dimmer wire (a few don't).  Of those that do, nearly all of them intend for you to connect that wire to one in your car that has +12V when your headlights are on, and 0V when your lights are off.  On the SVX, that is pin 4 (Orange wire on my harness).  This will cause the receiver to be at full brightness when your lights are off ("day" mode), and slightly dimmed when your lights are on ("night" mode).

Note that on receivers that have a dimmer wire, most also have a related menu option for "dimming." Be sure to enable that option (set it to detect the voltage on the dimmer wire).  Also, some receivers may only dim the backlighting for the alphanumeric display (and not the backlighting for the buttons and knobs).

No receiver that I'm aware of today is able to vary the brightness gradually (the way your instrument panel illumination does). Even for the rare ones that do, they expect to see the voltage go from 0 (dimmest) to 12 (brightest) — opposite from the way Subarus work. So pin 13 won't do what you might have wanted.

In theory, pin 14 should make the illumination work more like on the factory radio — bright when lights are off, dim when you first turn on your headlights, and back to bright when you press the car's BRIGHT button. At the time I first wrote this guide, however, all of the receivers I tested stayed in "night" mode all the time, due to the slight voltage present on pin 14 even when the headlights were off.

Since pin 14 didn't work for me, I also tested pin 13.  I found that I preferred the way it worked over pin 4: When the headlights were off, the receiver's display was in "bright" mode.  With the headlights on and the Instrument Illumination Brightness Control set anywhere from dimmest up to the last-detent-before-brightest (where I normally keep it), the display was dimmed.  Rotating the IIBC to the brightest position caused the receiver's display to go back to "daylight" brightness, which I would use whenever I turned on my headlights during daylight.

More recently, several people have told me that pin 14 worked well with their receivers.  Newer receivers require a higher voltage to change to "night" mode (6 Volts for some).  The ones I had tested switched at around 0.7V.  For those, you can use a small silicon diode in series to reduce the car's voltage by 0.7V.  The result should be just low enough for the receiver to stay in day mode until you actually turn on the headlights (and again when you press the BRIGHT button).

So my recommendations now are:

  1. Connect temporarily to pin 14 and test.  If it works (bright with headlights off, dim with headlights on, back to bright when you press the BRIGHT button), then make your connection permanent.

  2. If that doesn't work, insert a silicon diode (e.g., 1N4001) in series.  Connect the cathode (the terminal marked with a stripe) to your receiver's dimmer wire and the anode to pin 14.  Test again.

  3. If that doesn't work (or you don't want to bother with a diode), try pin 13.  With this wire, your receiver's display should be bright with headlights off, and dim when headlights are on (but only when you set the IIBC below a certain point).  That point will vary with different receiver models.

  4. If you don't like how that works (or you don't want your dimmer knob to affect your receiver's brightness), use pin 4.

2.5.3  SVX Radio Fuses

The SVX has six fuses for circuits that are connected to the radio (four directly, and two indirectly).  If random things stop working in your SVX, this information may help you track down whether your radio installation was at fault:

In addition to handling nearly all of the things that need timing (e.g., wiper delay, rear defogger cutoff, seat belt buzzer, automatic shoulder belt system, courtesy illumination, etc.), the TCU also manages the instrument illumination and dimming.

TCU pin "a20" goes to Dimmer pin 13 on the radio connector, and to the other side of all of the instrument illumination (green) bulbs.  This is the side of the bulbs that varies from +10 down to 0 volts as the lights go from dimmest to brightest.  It's a good bet that Fuse No. 9 powers this circuit.

TCU pin "a2" feeds Dimmer pin 14 on the radio connector.  I'm guessing that Fuse No. 9 powers this circuit as well.

2.5.4  Wire the Receiver-to-SVX Adapter

This is the point where Gavin and Randy wrote about cutting the wires on the SVX's Radio Connector.  Other people have used T-splices to tap in to the SVX's wires.  But those days are over!  Now you'll simply be joining your new Receiver's Wiring Harness to the Receiver Wiring Adapter.  Warm up your soldering iron or grab your crimp tool.


It's going to be very cramped behind the cage.  So first determine how long you want the wires.  Shorter means less to stow behind the cage.  But too short may not let you put the big connectors where they will fit.  With the receiver in the cage, temporarily plug in the Receiver Wiring Harness to see how you will route the wire bundle.  Before you shorten the wires, be sure you will be leaving enough length to slide the heat shrink tubing out of the way while you solder.



Use your receiver's instructions to determine which wires you won't be using.  You might want to shorten them even more (exception: wires that you could decide to use later, such as for an amplifier).  If they are pre-stripped, at least cut off the bare ends.



Wiring Adapter PinoutSimilarly, use table 2.5.1 to decide which of the pins on the Receiver Wiring Adapter you won't be using.  You can either shorten them as above, or remove the entire wire and contact pin from the connector shell.



Strip about 1/2" of insulation from each of the wires you will be using.  If they're pre-stripped, but longer, cut the bare ends down to this length.


5. If you're soldering, slide a 2" piece of heat-shrink tubing down each of the wires on one of two connectors.  Even if you're crimping, you might still want to cover the crimps with heat-shrink.  I don't recommend electrical tape — in my experience, the adhesive comes loose in the heat, and these connections are going in a place that will get very warm.


6. Connect the wires according to function, not necessarily by color.  For example, look in your receiver's instructions to see which wire is for the Power Antenna control and even if it's, say, Pink on the Receiver's Wiring Harness, connect that wire to the Receiver Wiring Adapter's Blue "Power Antenna" wire (pin 18).  Watch out for the wires with black stripes — don't confuse them for the ones without.  It's a good idea to do this work somewhere that's well lit.


7. Wire JointsIf you're soldering, join the wires in-line.  See the example.  This gives the best shape to cover with the heat-shrink tubing, and will make the bundle easier to manage.


8. Double-check your connections.


9. Slide a piece of heat-shrink tubing down each of the unused wires from steps 2 and 3 above.


10. Harness + Adapter solderedCenter each piece of heat-shrink tubing over the joint (this is where clear-colored tubing helps) and apply heat.  If you're using a butane lighter and haven't done this before, practice a few times on scraps of wire — it's very easy to burn the heat-shrink tubing.


11. Finished Harness + AdapterAdding Spiral WrapA nice touch is to add spiral wrap around the whole wire bundle.  This gives an extra layer of protection against the bundle being pinched between the cage and something else.  I also put some around the SVX's speaker/power wire bundle, all the way back to where it disappears inside the dash.

2.5.5  Antenna Connection

As mentioned back in section 2.3.2, the SVX and factory radio have two antenna cables.  One cable goes to the telescoping power antenna.  The second cable connects to the rear window defogger (which doubles as an antenna).

The factory radio uses a feature called "Diversity" for better FM reception — it picks whichever antenna is getting the stronger reception at any moment.  How can the rear window defogger make that much difference?  You might have experienced this in a car with a single antenna: While slowly rolling up to a traffic light, the reception on a particular FM station drops suddenly or gets lots of static.  Just moving the car forward by a foot or two makes the signal return.  With Diversity, in many such situations the two antennas are far enough apart for one of them to "see around the obstruction."

Unfortunately, receiver manufacturers have stopped including Diversity.  According to the folks at Crutchfield, the last model they sold that had it was in 2001.  What this means to you?  Unless you've bought an older receiver that has Diversity (i.e., has two antenna cables), you'll only need to connect one antenna to your receiver.  Don't use a Y-adapter to connect both antennas to a non-Diversity receiver.  That will give you worse reception than just using the SVX's power antenna alone (it's an "impedance-mismatch" thing).

Make your antenna connections:


Take the SVX antenna cable that ends with the male Motorola plug (fatter diameter cable, with the pointy end).  This is the cable that comes from the telescoping power antenna.  Connect this cable to the female end of your antenna extension cable.  If your replacement receiver has Diversity, take the other SVX antenna cable (terminated with a female Motorola jack, with the thinner diameter cable), connect a second extension cable, and run both extensions at the same time.



Thread the other end of the extension cable(s) through the back of the center dash console, up to the large opening where the factory radio was.  Leave the end(s) dangling for now — don't connect to your receiver yet.

2.5.6  Wired Remote Controls

Gavin's Sony came with a wired remote control.  Here's his description of the installation:

I mounted it on the right-hand side of the steering column below and slightly behind the windshield-wiper controls.  This puts it in easy reach but stops it getting in the way of other controls.  This was a pretty simple matter of removing the top of the steering column by releasing the screws on the underside and popping it off (it does clip as well so don't be afraid to use a little force).  Then I pulled down the section of the underside of the dash where the coin-holder is (totally useless BTW) [the 1996 and 1997 models have an engine diagnostic connector there instead -DC]... that section just clips into place BTW.  Anyway, I opened that up and there's a hole right there leading into the stereo bay.  Obviously I did this before putting the stereo back in place.  By the way, there's a nice gap in the steering column where you can run wires through... very handy for this kind of thing.

Randy mounted his receiver's remote control in one of the holes between the "spokes" of his steering wheel.  He didn't mention it, but if it was the wired type, I'm sure he ran the wire the same as Gavin did.

While a few receiver models still have wired remotes, the infrared wireless type is common now.  Most are handheld, but some wireless ones are still shaped to be attached to the steering wheel.

2.5.7  Test the Connections

Now is the time to check that everything works, before you slide the cage back in.  Trust me: you don't want to do that any more times than absolutely necessary.


Move the gearshift lever back to Park (so you can remove your key when you turn the ignition back off).



Make sure your towel is back in place to protect the parking brake lever, console, and gearshift lever.



Connect the Receiver's Wiring Harness to the receiver.



Plug the SVX Radio Connector into the Receiver Wiring Adapter.  Again, the two connectors should mate easily; if not, look at the Receiver Wiring Adapter and check that all its pins are straight.  You should feel and hear the lock "click" when the two connectors mate completely.


5. With the towel still covering everything, rest the cage on the center console — the combined wiring should be long enough (if not, carefully prop the cage on top of the gearshift lever).


6. If it will reach, connect the antenna cable.  If it won't reach, try connecting a short piece of wire to the receiver's antenna jack to temporarily get radio reception.  Use a large-gauge wire and strip 1/2 to 1" of insulation from the end.


7. Reconnect the wire to the negative terminal of the car battery.


8. Turn the ignition to ACC.


9. Turn on the receiver.



At this point, Gavin wrote:

If you find that you've got power to, say, eject a CD, but there seems to be no power to the unit to actually play then chances are you've blown a fuse.

Many (most?) receivers today have their own mini-blade type fuse in a socket on the rear of the receiver.  Check this first (since it's easiest to access), then the SVX's fuses.  See section 2.5.3, above, for the other fuses.


11. Use your balance and fader controls to be sure you've connected the speakers correctly — left/right, front/rear.


12. Spend a few minutes testing all of your new receiver's features (to make sure you didn't get a defective unit).

Does everything work?  If so, you're almost done...

2.6  Reinstalling the Cage

2.6.1  Tools Required

Because of the excess wire and the cramped space, this may take more than one try.  If the cage gets stuck, don't force it.  Use a flashlight to try to see what's catching.

Update: New tip — tie one or more short pieces of string to the harness.  Thread the opposite end of each string into the opening where the factory radio harness wires go back into the dash.  Continue "fishing" the string out to the right side footwell, so you can grab the end.  When you slide the cage into the dash, use the string(s) to pull all of the wiring into the opening (rather than trying to make the wires fold in the limited space behind the cage).

2.6.2  Preliminary Steps


If you went with the slide-in style of pocket, remove it now.  You may need to open the Audio Cover door a bit wider for the pocket to pass by.  The cardboard "shoehorn" helps here.



Move the gearshift lever to 1st gear again (same as before — section 2.3.1).



Dash OpeningMake sure none of the SVX's wires inside the dash will be in the way.  Randy noted:

On the '92 there is a bundle of wires [on the left side -DC] that appear to come from the [Climate Control] pod that may get in the way. Pull these toward the front of the cavity that the stereo resides in.

On my '96, those wires were already strapped out of the way, and weren't a problem.



Make sure your towel is covering the top of the cigarette lighter pod again.


5. Close the Audio Cover door.

2.6.3  Position the Wires

1. Hold the cage near the dash opening.


2. Route Wires Behind CageTry to "pre-bend" the speaker/power wire bundles so that they will fold up behind the cage when you push it back in.


3. If you didn't install anything in the second DIN bay, route the bundles into that empty space.

If both DIN bays are full, you might be able to tuck some of the SVX's bundle into the gaps in the very rear of the dash opening, on the bottom and/or to the right.  Ideally, you want the union of the Receiver Wiring Adapter connector and SVX Radio Connector to end up flat against the back "wall," at the bottom, with the wires going left/right.


4. If you didn't connect the antenna cable(s) yet, do that now.  Pull as much of the slack as possible back to the side of the transmission hump.

2.6.4  Replace the Cage


Begin sliding the cage back in.  If it seems to not want to even start, refer to section 2.3.3, step12.



Now is a good time to insert the two rectangles of cardboard ("shoehorns") on the sides of the opening.  Or use the plastic putty knife on the right side — cover the sharp gear on that side of the cage.



While you can still see them, watch where the wires are going.  If you use a slide-in style of pocket, reach in through that hole to guide the wires.  Prevent wires from being pinched between the cage and the dash structures, particularly the cross bars on the bottom and the vertical struts at the rear.



If your Climate Control wires bulge out like in Randy's '92, use his advice:

Cock the front of the [cage] slightly toward the left as if to push the unit in toward the right-hand side of the car.  This should help to get past the bundle of wires.


5. Continue sliding the cage in.  When the back of the cage hits the curled, springy metal support in the dash, you may need to angle the rear of the cage up slightly to get over that hump.  Pause when there's about an inch left to go.


6. Remove the towel from the top of the cigarette lighter pod.


7. Cage In DashSlide the cage in the last inch.  The flange on the bottom-front edge of the cage should be flush with the dash crossbar behind it.


8. Reinstall the upper screws.  The magnetic screwdriver is even more helpful here.  Otherwise, use needle-nose pliers to hold each screw.  Raise the cage upwards slightly (towards the Climate Control pod) when you tighten the screws.


9. Reinstall the ashtray.


10. Check that the Audio Door opens and closes properly.  If not, grab the cage (preferably, using the pocket), loosen the two screws, and reposition the cage until the Audio Door doesn't bind.  I found that if the cage was too high, the door would hit the top before it could latch, and if the cage was too low, the door would scrape against the cigarette lighter pod.


11. Replace the SVX's bezel.


12. Reinstall the lower screw(s).


13. Reinstall the black plastic piece on the back of the Audio Cover door.  If you need extra clearance for tall knobs on the face of your new receiver, leave this piece off.


14. Clean up the antenna cables on the side of the hump, push the carpet back into place, replace the plastic nut, and snap the trim panel back on.


15. If you have the wireless entry / security system and you disconnected the car battery, go through the procedure to "relearn" your remote transmitters.

2.7  Done!

David's JVCEnjoy your new receiver.  Hmm... Now I think I need some new speakers...

[Table of Contents] [Section 1: Introduction] [Section 2: Radio Removal / Replacement] [Section 3: Speaker Removal / Replacement] [Section 4: Final Notes] [Next] [Previous]

© Copyright 2002-2010 by David Carter.  All rights reserved.