Upgrading a 2001 Jeep Wrangler Stereo

My Wrangler had been in need of a new stereo for a long time. The stock stereo gave up playing CDs years ago. And since it didn’t have an AUX port, I was forced to listen to the radio or nothing at all. I had tried using a cheap FM transmitter in conjunction with my MP3 player. But the sound quality from those transmitters are just awful and they’re a little awkward to use most of the time. So I gave up trying to make due with what I had. It was time for an upgrade.

My criteria for selecting a new stereo receiver were as follows: It must be cheap. It must have an AUX port. And it must have positive customer reviews. That’s it. I ended up purchasing a Sony CDX-GT340 from Quadratec. For the price, it’s really not a bad stereo receiver. It feels a little cheap. But in addition to the AUX port, it supports CD-Rs loaded up MP3s and WMA files and RDS data transmitted from radio stations – two things I’ve never had before and are both very cool. I’ve had it installed well over a month now with no problems. If you’re on a budget, the CDX-GT340 is definitely worth a look.

I’m going to attempt to describe the process for installing a new stereo receiver in a 2001 Jeep Wrangler. It’s not really all that difficult. The entire installation took me somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 1/2 hours to complete – mostly because I took breaks to eat and consult the Internet. You can probably do the whole thing in less than an hour if you’re ambitious and you know what you’re doing…in even less time if you’ve already eaten lunch.

I should insert a disclaimer here – I make no promises that this process will be the same for all TJ Wranglers. I’m not an expert. I know nothing about other TJ stereo configurations. So follow along at your own risk. If you make smoke, please don’t blame me.

There are two things you need to do before you start ripping apart your dashboard.

First, make sure there aren’t any CDs still in your old stereo. It may seem ridiculously obvious. But I made this mistake. Imagine my dismay when, three days later, I realized my copy of Pearl Jam’s “Vs.” was still in the old stereo. *sigh*

Second, you need to disconnect the negative terminal of the battery. This is the most boring part of the job. But it must be done to prevent you from accidentally damaging something or somebody. You only need to disconnect the negative terminal. DO NOT disconnect the positive terminal if the negative terminal is still connected. Many of the car’s electrical devices ground themselves by connecting to the car’s frame, which is connected to the negative terminal on the battery. If you attempt to disconnect the positive terminal while the negative terminal is still connected, you risk creating a short circuit by touching something you shouldn’t. A short circuit will result in fireworks and, depending on what you’re touching, it can also result in an extremely serious shock.

With the battery disconnected, you can now begin to remove the plastic cover that surrounds the stereo and heater controls. Along the top of the dashboard is a long plastic piece that surrounds the defroster vents and the VIN number. You’ll need to remove this piece first because it’s hiding screws that anchor the cover to the rest of the dashboard. Using a flat edged tool, you can pry this piece up. Just be careful not to scratch anything. I used a wide, flat-head screwdriver wrapped in a dishtowel to do this. Start at one edge and then work your way down to the other end.

After you remove the top piece, you’ll see two of the three screws that anchor the plastic cover to the rest of the dashboard. The third screw is actually in the ashtray. Remove the ashtray by depressing the little tab and slide it out. You can use a Phillips head screwdriver or a 1/4” socket to get these screws out.

After the screws have been removed, grip the cover near the ashtray and along the top and begin rocking it out of place. With a couple of gentle tugs, it should pop right out.

Next comes the hard part. With the cover out of the way, you’ll see two screws that attach the stereo to the dashboard. These screws are actually two of three. The third is on the back of the stereo anchoring it to the firewall by means of a Y-shaped bracket. This screw is extremely awkward to get to. And even with hand access, you’ll find it difficult to get to with your wrench. This is the part that took up most of my time.

Go ahead and remove the two screws on the front of the stereo. A 3/8” socket will do the trick. Then remove the glove compartment cover and the heater-A/C instrument panel. You need to remove these so you can get your hands behind the stereo. The glove box can be removed by disconnecting the nylon strip that’s attached to it and the heater-A/C instrument panel is only attached by the four Phillips head screws you see in the photo.

Next, unbolt the Y-bracket from the firewall. The Y-bracket is attached to the firewall by two bolts that sit next to the windshield.

With the Y-bracket detached, you can scoot the stereo out just enough to get your wrench in behind it and remove that troublesome screw. Note that the ground wire for the stereo is also attached to this screw. Expect it to get in your way.

With this last screw out of the way, you should be able to slide the stereo completely out and disconnect all the wiring connectors. But do this carefully. The antenna connector is a bit more delicate than the others. It’s easy to damage if you pull the stereo out too forcefully.

The next thing I did was to remove the Y-bracket completely. I have no idea what this thing is for. I came across a couple of online forum posts that suggested it’s meant to be an anti-theft device. But I’m not entirely convinced of this. The stock stereo is fairly big and heavy. My guess is the Y-bracket is meant for support more than anything else. But, of course, that’s just a guess. If anyone knows what it’s really for, let me know. In the end I didn’t think it was worth the headache to try to reattach it. So I left it out. However, I did attach the Y-bracket screws to the firewall so I wouldn’t lose them.

For me, the next step was the easiest part of all. The CDX-GT340 came with a 2001 Wrangler wiring kit. There was no wire cutting or splicing necessary. The existing connectors just worked. I plugged everything in, reconnected the battery, and tested that everything still worked ok.

After you finish testing the stereo, disconnect the battery again just to be safe. Using the kit supplied to you by the retailer, finish mounting the stereo in the dash. Reattach the heater-A/C instrument panel and glove compartment. And then gently slide the instrument panel surround cover back into place and secure it with the three screws that were holding it in place. Pop the ashtray back in, reattach the plastic defroster vent cover, reconnect the negative battery terminal, and you’re done!

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8 Responses to Upgrading a 2001 Jeep Wrangler Stereo

  1. thinayr says:

    Great tut, thanks man. The factory stereo was gawd awful! Finally had enough. This was very helpful. I hope you got your VS back! I read your caution and sure enough TEN was in the old stereo! Thanks again-

    ~r

  2. Steve says:

    where did you get that mounting kit? I would like one similar

  3. Brian says:

    Awesome thanks!!! I would never have known were to start if it wasn’t for you!! Thanks again.

  4. Rick Dashkovitz says:

    Shane

    Thank you for the info. I have an 01 too. The 60 anniversary edition. Did you have to add an amp to power the console sub woofer. BTW. I just replace the factory subwoofer for a kicker

    Thanks
    Rick

    • Shane says:

      I didn’t do anything extra to drive the subwoofer. But I kind of feel like I should have. Maybe I should have even installed a crossover. The soundbar speakers are getting too much low end and the sub woofer isn’t getting enough. Tweaking the speaker configuration on the stereo hasn’t gotten me very far either. :-(

      I’ll get around to fixing this at some point. I just need to carve out a free afternoon.

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