How to Upgrade a Subaru Outback Stereo

Written by jule pamplin
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How to Upgrade a Subaru Outback Stereo
(autoradio 2 image by Nathalie P from

Upgrading a stereo system provides a lot of options for a car owner. Aftermarket units are available to play compact discs, cassette tapes (still), MP3 files and even receive satellite radio. A Subaru Outback owner is not limited by the choices for replacement units. You can install a standard deck or double-DIN deck, and with the addition of a faceplate adaptor, you can install a stereo from virtually any manufacturer. Before you remove the factory stereo, be sure to disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 10mm wrench
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Thin cloth
  • Wiring harness adaptor
  • Faceplate adaptor

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  1. 1

    Lift the hood of the Subaru and remove the black rubber cover over the negative battery terminal. Loosen the bolt that holds the negative battery cable clamp to the negative battery lead post with a 10mm wrench. Move the cable away from the terminal and replace the black rubber cover.

  2. 2

    Place a thin cloth over the blade of a flat head screwdriver and pry away the trim panel around the gear selector lever. Remove the panel from the centre console.

  3. 3

    Remove the two screws at the bottom of the centre dash panel that hold the storage compartment in place with the Phillips head screwdriver. Pull the storage compartment away from the dashboard.

  4. 4

    Pry the trim panel around the stereo from the dash using the flat head screwdriver wrapped in a thin cloth.

  5. 5

    Remove the two screws on either side of the stereo with the Phillips head screwdriver. The screws hold the stereo mounting bracket into the dash of the Outback. Pull the entire mounting bracket away from the dashboard.

  6. 6

    Remove the two screws on the side of the stereo mounting bracket that hold the stereo into the bracket with a Phillips head screwdriver.

  7. 7

    Disconnect the stereo wiring connected to the back of the factory stereo unit. Pull the wiring from the radio by hand.

  8. 8

    Slide the stereo from the mounting bracket.

  9. 9

    Connect the Subaru stereo wiring to a wiring harness adaptor. Insert the faceplate adaptor into the opening provided by the removed factory unit. Slide the new aftermarket stereo into the faceplate adaptor. The aftermarket stereo will snap into place for some models of adaptors; for others, push the new stereo into the slot until the face of the stereo is flush with the trim of the faceplate adaptor.

  10. 10

    Connect the leads of the wiring harness adaptor to the outlets on the back of the aftermarket stereo. The wiring harness adaptor will be clearly marked with colour codes or abbreviations to show where the appropriate connections will be made.

  11. 11

    Replace the stereo mounting bracket, with the new stereo installed, into the stereo mounting dock. Replace the two screws on either side of the bracket. Snap on the trim panel that surrounds the stereo and climate controls.

  12. 12

    Replace the centre storage tray and its screws. Place the trim panel around the gear selector lever and snap it into place by hand.

  13. 13

    Place the negative battery cable clamp around the negative battery lead. Use a 10mm wrench to tighten the clamp around the lead post. Replace the black rubber cover over the negative terminal. Close the hood.

Tips and warnings

  • The thin cloth will protect the finish of the Subaru's dash trim panels from being scratched by the blade of the screwdriver.

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