I have a 2002 Mazda Protege5. I love this car. The stock stereo was pretty good for 2002, if you weren't a real technophile. But eight years have taken their toll: The factory stereo stopped playing CDs a while ago, which meant I was down to just AM/FM and cassette.

The bummer of the factory stereo is that it's a double-DIN size -- twice the size of standard aftermarket stereos. It was time to upgrade my stereo to the Roadmaster VR500CSBT -- well, actually the previous model, which looks a little different from the newest version, but does all the same stuff. The bluetooth integration is particularly nice, as my Motorola Droid will play MP3s over the stereo now, and I can take calls w/o touching my phone.

I needed the following supplies for this project:

In order, the tasks were:

  1. remove old unit
    1. remove beauty trim -- pocket knife is perfect for this, and requires very little force
    2. manufacture Ford Keys
    3. remove old stereo unit
    4. disconnect wiring harness
    5. disconnect antenna
  2. solder wiring harness
    1. cut heatshrink tubes
    2. slide heatshrink over unsoldered wire
    3. match labeled wires (e.g. right front speaker -> right front speaker)
    4. mount matched wires in 3rd hand
    5. solder matched wires
    6. double check that connection is proper (connecting power to ground can cause serious havoc)
    7. slide heatshrink over finished solder
    8. use hairdrier or heat gun to shrink heatshrink tube
    9. use cable ties to bundle all wires together
  3. prep stereo and tray
    1. remove rubber nub from back of old stereo and install on back of new stereo tray
    2. remove stereo sleeve from new stereo unit
    3. remove any "remove before mounting" hardware on new stereo unit
  4. install new unit
    1. slide new stereo tray into mazda -- this took some massaging, and more force than I would have liked
    2. slide stereo sleeve into the appropriate location on the mounting tray
    3. bend tabs of sleeve to lock it into place in the tray
    4. connect wiring harness to stereo
    5. connect antenna to stereo unit
    6. slide stereo unit into sleeve
  5. Enjoy

All told, this took me 2 hours, counting finding my tools, cleaning up afterwards, and repeatedly checking Wikibook's guide to installing a new stereo. I also took lots of pictures of what I was doing. They should be self-explanatory, based on the steps above:

all text and images copyright 2010, Jeremy Anderson