1997 Wrangler (TJ) Stereo Installation FAQ

Author: Todd Murray (http://www.jeepforum.com/)

This FAQ describes a few methods of installing radios, CD players, and CD changers in a 1997 Jeep Wrangler. This, hopefully, will clear up the commonly asked questions such as, "I can't find a stereo that fits the non-standard dash opening!" and "There's no way to fit a factory 4x6 inch speaker in the front without a mounting bracket." I have included details from my own stereo installation (mainly how to mount the stereo), as well as some other people's experiences with installing stereos and other equipment.

Note : I didn't actually install the CD player in my Wrangler; it was originally installed by Audio King. I remounted it after some thieves tried to take it and they broke the mounting bracket.

Disclaimer (again): Much of this information is my personal opinion or the opinion of any authors cited. Don't take it as absolute gospel, but instead as helpful advice. Also, Chrysler's attorneys will come after me if I forget to mention that Jeep is their trademark.


  1. Mounting radios and CD players in the dash
  2. My stereo installation: Mounting front and rear speakers
  3. More information
  4. Jim Bembanaste's installation
  5. Shaun Kelly's CB radio installation
  6. Infinity speaker upgrade
  7. Dave Green's stereo

1. Mounting radios and CD players in the dash

Some people have commented that a standard sized radio or CD player doesn't fit in the dash opening. They think it's a plot by Mopar to get you to install their own equipment. I'm not going to knock the Jeep accessory radios (since I haven't listened to them and I can't vouch for their quality), but if you already have one of these radios, your dealer installed it for you and you don't need this FAQ. The rest of you can read on.

First: To remove the center piece so you can get access to the stereo, you must remove three screws. Two screws are underneath the defroster vent at the top of the dash. The third is behind the ashtray. Once you have removed these three screws, you can pull straight back on the center ring and it will slide out. It's held in place with three metal clips. I have pictures on a separate page that detail this process.

The picture below shows what the fairly large opening looks like. The green boxes are the primary mounting points for the bracket as I describe it below. The red boxes are for padding, which I'll explain later. Picture of the opening in the dash, with my pads in there

Many car stereos sold these days are in the "DIN" size. DIN is a German standards group whose existence isn't important here, but let's just say that the standard is for a stereo about 6 3/4 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches high. Car stereo dealers should have mounting brackets that will fit your Wrangler. I bought one made by Metra that was named "74-95 Universal Chrysler/Jeep/Eagle". Any bracket that fits into the two mounting points I mentioned above will work, though. Here's two pictures of the bracket:

Stereo bracket, front view Stereo bracket, side view

The bracket is the black plastic part. The tabs in the green boxes bolt into the mounting clips highlighted above and are the only important tabs. Note that a "universal" bracket has all sorts of tabs coming out of it -- some of them aren't actually used for the installation, and they'll be in the way, so you need to break them off. The gray metal part is the ring that comes with the stereo. It has tabs that fit snugly into the plastic ring, and it also fits snugly around the stereo to keep it in place.

Here's the special secret of my installation: The pads highlighted in red on the very top picture are foam rubber pads about 1/4 inch high. They fit between the bottom of the stereo opening and the rearward projections on the mounting bracket (also highlighted in red on the picture immediately above). This padding keeps the CD player in place and cushions it from bouncing around, as Jeeps like to do. (The installer at Audio King just bent a metal bracket around to hold the CD player in on the bottom. This didn't work well; it made the CD player skip too often because it wasn't kept in place that well.)

Once you've bought a mounting bracket and removed the tabs so it will fit properly, attach the metal ring to the plastic bracket and bend the metal tabs into place to hold it. You can also put one or two small screws in there to hold it firmly into place, as long as the radio can still slide in and out. Before sliding the radio into the mounting bracket, mount the bracket with the attached metal ring to the dash. Then, connect the wiring harness and the antenna to the radio, and slide it into place. (You may want to test everything first, since it's a hassle to finish installing the stereo and to put everything back together only to find it doesn't work.)

2. My stereo installation: Mounting front and rear speakers

4x6 factory speakerSome people have claimed that you can't fit a factory 4x6 speaker in the front speaker locations unless you make an adapter. This picture shows that it's possible. These are Kenwood 4x6 speakers. The yellow circles show the screws (or they would, if the contrast was better in this picture). I think Audio King had to drill into the Jeep's bracket to put the screws in there, but it fits without an adapter.

As far as rear speakers go, I have the Mopar sound bar. I like the sound bar because it provides reasonably good sound, and having the speakers close to my ears means I can actually hear it.

3. More information

I've written an addendum to this page that details how to remove the center piece, as well as how to wire the stereo. Someday, I'll get that page integrated with this one, but I ran out of room on my ISP.

The Install Doctor site has created a really detailed installation page that has all the information you'll ever need. (Note: This is a big PDF file which seems to take a while to come up.)

4. Jim Bembanaste's stereo

Jim Bembanaste (lungs@icanect.net) wrote:

Subject: TJ Simple Sound System

Ok, I know I made a mistake. I was not aware that so many were interested. I will also post this explanation on the Newsgroups. Anyone interested in more specific detail email lungs@icanect.net.

When I first got my TJ I had ordered it with the best am/fm cassette and CD controller through the radio. It did not come this way so I fought with the dealer and they swapped it out for the best Grand Cherokee radio with equalizer they had.

I went ahead and bought the Chrysler 6 CD changer which is the same as the Alpine. Believe me when I tell you that this changer does not skip. I have owned the Sony and Pioneer and they do skip. This changer is small enough to fit inside the center console. I control the changer through the radio not an RF.

Next, I switched the 4x6 front speaker for JBL. I made my own mount by destroying the stock 4x6 that came with the TJ. I also replaced the speakers in the sound bar with Eclipse 5 1/4 coaxial model 8252. No modification needed, they went right in.

The replacement of these speakers gave me a lot clearer mid and high range. Even at loud volume without distorting I could hear the highs on the road. But as you know there was something missing that gets washed out. The BASS.

I did not wish to start adding amplifiers and boxes. I Scuba dive very heavily and I am always driving with the top down and removing/replacing the back seat. I took a chance and I looked into the Bazooka speakers. Some come without the amp and some do. I was going to the store to test the sounds and a friend of mine that installs radios for dealerships told me that JBL had just come out with an 8 inch, 80 watt powered tube subwoofer with amplifier, model #GT800P. It was new technology, smaller in length than the Bazooka. I went with the JBL. The sound was incredible, I have never heard such a tight base. I mounted it in the rear. When the back seat is in passenger mode I placed the speaker right up against it six inches from the wall. I mounted it with quick disconnects so that I might take it out if I am desperate for the room. After hearing this I will make it all possible to load up and have it in the car. The JBL tube will turn on and shut off with the power of the radio.

I can honestly tell you that I had the top down which fit right in the back like before and the JBL fit just fine. I drove 70 mph did not loose the high and had plenty in which I tight base to go, it sounded crisp and clear. I controlled it with the equalizer buttons. In some radios you might be able to adjust it with the bass control. I got to split the frequency by two since I got the equalizer. It becomes almost like a volume or gain control to be able to adjust to the type of music you are listening to. I am so glad that it all worked without going through great expense and at the same time kept it simple. My wife and I could not hear each other speak.

It is my wife's vehicle, she does not get to drive it much these days. She usually takes the 3000GT, but prefers to go on the TJ. Hope this helps all you guys. I know that there has been great expense on some other systems that in no doubt might have more power. I needed something simple that does not take up room and does not cost a lot. I am sure that I have achieved this.

Jim Bembanaste

4. Shaun Kelly's CB radio

Shaun Kelly (spk@nospam.visi.com) had this to say about installing a CB in his TJ:

Artemis1 on msn.com wrote:
> > Hi Shaun.
> Have fun with your Jeep. Sounds very similar to what I ordered.

So far, very nice. We're actually getting some good snow here today, so maybe I can put in 4wd. :)

> BUT, I do have a question/request. When you figure out where/how to
> mount your ham radio, can you let me know? I havnt figured out where
> to put one when I get my jeep. As for antenna, I plan to drill a couple
> holes and put a mount in the back corner of the body. The whip will be
> 'protected' by the top or the sport bar (sort of) when the top is down.
> l8r
> -scott

Here's what I've done so far:

Started out making a power cable with some 12 guage wire - I may wanna run two radios, or some other accessories, and the power cable with the new Kenwood V7A was too short. Connected a ring lug to two wires, and fused the hot line with a 20 amp fuse and fuse holder from radio shack. Ran the wires up and wire-tied them to the wiring harness in place on the firewall, and over to the driver's side. There's a rubber plug/gasket which is in place in the firewall, kinda about 4pm from the steering shaft - no connections through it yet - I fed the wires through there - put a hole in the rubber gasket and pulled them through. Voila - Power.

I wanted to mount the radio under the drivers side, so I looked at how the seat was connected - I got a torx 50 pit for the ratchet, and loosened the rear torx bolt and the other rear bolt on the drivers seat. I had purchased a 3' x 1" strip of metal with pre-punched holes every 3/4" from Menards - this I was going to cut down to 11", and connect under the seat bolts. Well, the Torx is too large for those holes, although the other rear seat bolt went through just fine. Weird. In any case, I had planned on bending the strip somewhat to adjust for the fact that the holes would not line up properly - I.e., I cut it to about 13", and bent it so it rides up a little off the floor. I put the one bolt through on the left, and had it cut so there was a half hole on the right side, which I put under the Torx, and tightened them down. I put some bends in so it fit.

The radio was connected to its bracket, which was bolted to the metal strip. Seems to be good, unless you have some really long-legged rear occupants. The radio is under the seat, as far as rain goes with the top down, although I may want to put some kind of cover over it later depending on where the rain really comes down.

The radio has a removeable faceplate, so with the optional wiring kit, I had 3m of cable to run. This I ran under the carpet to under the door, followed the existing harness forward, then I removed the three torx for the left dash, pulled it forward and pulled the cable in behind it, then reconnected it. Now the cable comes out on top of the dash, almost flush with the window support. One problem I had was that the top of the three torx has a sliding connector to bolt into - which fell off when I undid it. It was reconnectable, just a pain and took three hands.

Next, the cable runs up to the sport bar, loops over, and behind the window shade. You could just adhesive the faceplate, or drill new holes, to mount it - what I did was removed the loop to tie the windshield to the hood, drilled the faceplate for screwholes to match, and then screwed the holder for the faceplate into the existing holes with the original torx. I don't plan on dropping the windshield often, so it seemed a great place.

I did* run out of cable, exactly there, so I guess I lucked out.

I still need to spool up some of my power cables, and wire tie them to the seat frame or somewhere else out of the way.

As for antenna, I have a Mopar back rack mounted to the spare tire - not sure the model number, but it's not the one I'd ordered - apparently it was flimsy, so the dealer got me a better one. Regardless, the magmount I had fits on the top nicely. I may put a trunk-lip mount there, eventually.

Cable feeds in on top of the door, over to the right, and in front of the back seat - I may need to clean that up a bit, but I've only had it in a day now so I'm not sure how it's going to work.

Other options I'd considered were:

Drill and mount on top of the turn signal lamp housing Remove the housing, put some sheet metal in behing it, put a right angle bend in, drill and mount in the sheet metal, put the signal back on Get the off-road lightbar, put antennas on it - cost too much for now.


-- Shaun Kelly, spk@visi.com, http://www.visi.com/~spk

5. Infinity Speaker upgrade

Jeff Diamond (jeff007@mindspring.com) posted the following about the Infinity speaker upgrade:

"Les & Rose Pelland" wrote:
>Has anyone heard the Infinity upgrade on the 97' Sport. What kind of Infinity speakers are they? It
>comes with a 100 watt amp under the back seat, and a CD/casette combo, with 8 speakers in six
>*Les & Rose Pelland*

The Infinity system is worth it if you're into music and want a VERY clean sound. If you're not that picky maybe you can save a few bucks. I have it in my 97' Sport and love it. I don't know what kind of speakers but they are not the GOLD series used in the Grand Cherokee. The locations are two in the front doors, two on the roof in the back, and two little tweeters by where the side view mirrors are. The ones in the back are 2-way speakers so they count them as a extra pair making 8. (and little sneeky I feel). What I did since I do not even own a casette I had the dealer swap my radio for a CD only radio. This is done through United radio in NY (I can get you the info if you want but the dealer should know what to do). The CD only radio (w AM/FM) is made by Alpine and has a 5 band EQ instead of 3, and sounds much better, and is made better. The factory radio is made by Mitsubishi. The only thing it does not have that the factory radio has is random play for the CD. Any more info needed feel free to email....

6. Dave Green's stereo

From: DG <davehg at seattleu.edu>
To: elkman at spamcop.net
Subject: Jeep Wrangler comments

Saw your wrangler FAQ page. Very nice. I have afew comments about the stock hifi & my experience. I recently bought a 97 tj sport hartop, with the 30" tire package and typical options. I added the stock side steps (nerf bars are too much $), a pair of refinished Cibie Super Oscar lights mounted to the front bumper), and other stuff. For many reasons, I traded a 95 montero in for the Wrangler. The Montero was a great luxo 4x4 but the the Wrangler is infinetly more fun & more serious.

While your FAQ presents a rather dim view of additional hifi equipment such as amp, subs, etc, I spend a number of commuting hours in my wrangler. Even with the sound bar, the stock stereo SUCKS! No highs, no lows (must be Bose?) So, I went looking for upgrades that wouldn't put me in the poorhouse or require any serious mods, and that were in keeping with the wrangler's 4x4 purpose.

First stop was to replace the stock Jensen's in the soundbar. I wanted something that had more highs, a clearer midrange for voices, and something at the bottom. Also, I didn't want to add an amp to the stock radio. 5 1/4" Infinity Kappa's fit the bill. They were efficient enough to use the stock radio's miniscule power output, and they fit perfectly in the soundbar's stock speaker mounts. It took me only 30 minutes to replace the stock jensens. Cost on the Kappa's is about $140 pr.

A note: the stock speakers have a proprietary "plug-in" connector for the + and - connectors. I had to cut off the plug and terminate the wires with appropriate connectors (the Kappa's don't come with any so ask your hifi dealer for extra's). I phoned the dealer & obtained a wire schematic so I knew what wire went to the + and - terminals on the Kappa's. Mix these up and the sound is flat and lacks bass.

I have yet to add the 4 x 6 versions of the kappa's to replace the front's, but the sound is amazing, rich, and tubelike (for those that appreciate the warm sweet sound that only vacuum tubes amps can deliver).

Still, the bass was lacking. Seriously lacking. It's amazing to see how much music you are missing when you add a sub. I DO NOT listen to rap or much modern pop, preferring seattle grunge, jazz, and other stuff, so no digs on that, please. I ended up buying an 8" powered sub, enclosed in a round cylinder, already prepackaged & ready for install. Total cost: $99 plus the install charge. (I let Car Toys worry about the hook up. For $35, it was worth it). The sub sits perfectly in the area behind the rear seat, and is held tightly in place by using the cargo net I salvaged from my Montero (the stock wrangler net is too small), attached to the tie down hooks. The install guys ran a power and ground wire to the stock radio, and spliced into the wires running up the roll bar to the stock sound bar. Very nice and totally hidden from view.

Amazing sound for around $300 using the stock radio.

I also installed an alarm with a proximity sensor, so when I add a soft top, the alarm will chirp when someone reaches into the interior. I'm thinking of buying the add-a-trunk; this will totally encase the sub and keep it locked and out of view when the hard top is off.

My $.02 on the sound issue. Keep in mind that having a hard top cuts down on most road noise and lets me enjoy the sound quality. We'll see if this hold true in summer with the soft top.

Dave Green
E-Mail davehg@seattleu.edu

Back to the '97 Wrangler FAQ

Back to the Information Singletrack