So, you’ve chosen to install a car DVD player, or in-car DVD system on your own and don’t know where to begin. You’re not alone…
US electronic equipment retailer body, the Consumer Electronics Association, estimated US shoppers spend over $110 billion on in-vehicle electronics with a large percentage of that spend going on Do-It-Yourselfers who planned to install the accessories themselves.
However, unless you’re an electrician or mechanic, or you tinker with electronic projects or cars as a hobby, you might find the project a little confusing. It’s not just a case of being overwhelmed by the thought of installing this complex box of wires and wondering how to install this device.
Baffled by the terminology?
Don’t know what DIN is and what it has to do with RCA?
Here is an introduction to the world of car DVD player installation.
One of the things you will need to consider before even thinking about how to install a car DVD player is what tools you will need for the job. While each car and each car DVD system is different there are still some basic items you will probably need to complete the installation process. For most projects you will need a flat-head and Philips-head screwdriver, pliers and a wire striping/crimping tool at the very least. You may also need a socket and ratchet set, utility knife, panel tool, drill and bit set and torque driver set as well. Again, this is a list of only the more basic tools and you are likely to need several other items as well.
While it is well established that “real men” don’t read instruction manuals, most real men don’t do a really good job of installing their car DVD players either. Read the instructions carefully and study any schematics supplied with the DVD player to make sure you completely understand the process in installing that specific car DVD player correctly.
While each system is different and unique it is usually made up of three components:
- the DVD player itself;
- the car video monitor;
- the sound system;
…and there are four main different types of installation that will present you with four different degrees of difficulty.
2 DIN system
DIN is an international standard for Car stereo / in-dash car entertainment units: 2 DIN simply means a standard double decker slot size.
This system is mounted in the car dashboard and will probably pose you the most difficulty, especially if you are installing it from scratch. But since double DIN car DVD systems also look the coolest, it is definitely worth the effort…
Two DIN car DVD systems are usually made up of a screen and DVD player, with the amplifier being built into the dashboard unit. You may find that you will need unit mounts and connectors to get the DVD player to be seated properly. Installation of this type of system requires a lot of re-wiring and, if the edges of the DVD player is too big or too small for a non-standard stereo space, you may even need to remodel the dash to make sure the unit fits snugly. Check the dimensions of your dashboard slot before buying your new car DVD!
You are probably going to need to run wires from the player to the speakers, any auxiliary input devices you might want to run (such as rear view cameras or car bluetooth kits) as well as running a wire to both ends of the emergency break cable as it may be illegal in your country to be able to operate the screen when the car is in motion, unless its using a rear view camera. You will also need to wire the car DVD player to the power supply.
1 DIN system
This type of DVD player is similar to the 2 DIN in that it is mounted in the dash and is requires a great deal of wiring to get it installed. However, the 1 DIN Car DVD player only takes up half the space of the 2 DIN model and you may need to remodel the stereo port in the dash to make the DVD player fit snugly. Like the 2 DIN system it is made up of a screen (often retractable), amplifier and DVD player. Connections, wires and mounting brackets are always needed, but not always included.
Alternative Design Car DVD Players
This type of system is easier to install than the one, or two DIN DVD player but will still present you with some unique problems. While you won’t have to fit the new electrical components to existing parts of the car you will still have to do a substantial amount of wiring to get the system hooked up to a power supply and/or stereo system. To install this type of car DVD player you will probably need wire, screws, glue or some other adhesive.
To install a headrest monitor you will need to remove the fitted headrest and run power and connection wires down through the hole… with most cars you should be able to take the cover off the bottom of the seat and put an unwound clothes hanger, or some other kind of wire, up through the slot to find the cable and fish it out… It then can be run under the carpet to the main car unit in the dash, or to another connection box in another location.
If you want to install a sun visor DVD player or overhead car DVD player you will need to consider two things: how to fix the player to the roof, and how to wire the DVD player so that the cables remain hidden. When mounting the overhead monitor you will need to install it in the middle of the car for ultimate strength. You will then need to conceal the wires wires underneath roof panels, running them from the player to the dashboard or power supply. This will require a lot of work as panels, the car’s kick plate and even sometimes the seatbelt will have to be removed. Sun visor DVD players are a little easier to mount, as wires don’t have to go so far to get to the power source/main adaptor. However they will still require some careful work removing and re-attaching panels.
Clip-on Car DVD players
This type of car DVD player is the easiest to install by far, and most flexible when it comes to moving from place to place. Clip-on car DVD players usually include sun visor DVD players, headrest DVD players and arm rest DVD players. You should be able to plug them into the cigarette lighter and strap them on to the allotted location.
Some Things To Consider
The information above is only a snippet of the material that you will need to help you through the installation process. Installing a car DVD player is not something to be undertaken lightly, especially when installing 1 DIN or 2 DIN car DVD players and overhead DVD players, which can be quite complicated to place and wire.
If you are serious about installing the DVD player and have the resources to do it it is important that you work methodically and carefully to avoid confusion or delays. Here are some things you might want to consider doing:
- Research the project:
Read and make sure you understand instructions for the components you are going to install. It might even be a good idea to go online and see if anybody has done any wiring plans for your particular car model.
- Prepare for the task before you start:
If you’re taking on a major task, like installing a 1 DIN, 2 DIN or overhead DVD player, you will need to ensure you have all the necessary tools, accessories and cables. You will also need to give yourself at least a day without distractions to complete the job.
- Remove existing components carefully and methodically:
It is important that you don’t lose or damage the old stereo unless you want your brand new unit to go with the car when you sell it. Laying out panels and parts in relation to their location on the car with all their screws on the panel will also prevent a 30-minute game of hunt the screw.
- Make your work tidy:
Try to make wires as tight as possible and prevent them from coiling up.
Do-It-Yourselfers who rush into car DVD installation projects might well find they are left with a time-consuming project which ends with an ugly and sometimes unsafe result.
There’s nothing worse than a car with wires scattered all the way through it. A professional installer would make sure wires were tidied away somewhere behind the paneling of the car in nice neat straight lines. And, by taking time when installing the car DVD player yourself you can achieve similar results. It is also important to be aware of audio and visual problems that could come up from an hastily-assembled system. These might include flickering screens, black holes in sound, or rattling components amongst other things.
Incorrectly installed systems can, at their worst, be a hazard to the system, the car and yourself. If two wires are exposed they can short, creating a short-circuit that will, at the very least, turn your new stereo into an expensive brick and, at worst, fry the electrical circuit in your car. However, this is minor compared to the possibility of a car fire. Wire that has been piled too closely together for too long will fuse generating a temperature so hot it can combust causing a car fire.
Car DVD Installation Glossary
= a CD changer; a device which holds several CDs and plays them on demand without having to eject or manually sort discs. Needless to say you can now get DVD changers too.
= a device that limits the range of frequencies sent to different speakers.
= just stands for “Deutsches Institut für Normung” (DIN, the German Institute for Standardization), similar to ISO. The relevance for car DVD systems is that DIN means a standard sized dashboard slot, so 1 DIN means the device takes up one slot, and 2 DIN means the unit is ‘double-decker’ and uses the space of two slots.
= “Digital Theater Systems” multichannel audio – basically another surround-sound standard like Dolby Digital 5.1.
= DVD audio – just like a music CD, except more features and higher quality.
= Radio Frequency – probably talking about the wireless headphones. RF is generally better than Infra Red because you don’t have to be in the ‘line of sight’ of the transmitter.
= A power supply device you can plug into your dashboard cigarette lighter to supply AC to power-hungry devices.
= a device such as a DVD player installed in your dashboard, typically in the place of your old car radio.
= Global Positioning System – in your this means navigation / map display software linking to a signal receiver and a readout on your screen.
= Graphical User Interface – i.e. you can control the device using on-screen menus, often with a touchscreen
= the coverings that make the ceiling inside your car.
= An FM transmitter that turns an audio input source, e.g. an MP3 player or audio line-in, into a radio signal for you to tune into using your car stereo.
= a screen that receives a signal from e.g. a DVD player or TV tuner – if a product is described as a Monitor it typically means it does NOT include the actual input player, e.g. DVD player unit. This is fine if you are buying that separately or you are building an in-car PC.
= where the TFT screen of a display, usually in a dashboard unit, automatically folds and slides inside its housing when not in use.
= a grand name for the little dashboard cigarette lighter socket
= those red and white (for audio) and yellow (for video) connectors used for e.g. connecting your DVD player to your home TV
= Radio Display (/Data) System – the function where your radio can display rich data such as the name of the station or the track name, for FM radio signals.
=(confusingly enough) the device that transmits your video signal to a screen, e.g. a car DVD player
= high quality video connector often included on graphics cards, monitors, dvd players, and consoles as an alternative to RCA or VGA + Audio.
= a vague term that generally just means “feature rich”, e.g. a car DVD player that also has a built-in GPS and connects with external storage devices.