Replacing Ford’s Stock Stereo

A while back, I bought a Ford with a 6CD changer in it:

Old Stock 6CD Changer

I played a lot of CDs the first year.  Then I got an iPod, FM transmitter, and eventually an iPhone, and rarely touched a CD again.

Every morning before starting the car, I’d mount the iPhone, attach the FM transmitter cable, flip the radio to 88.1FM, check that the transmitter is still on 88.1FM, unlock the phone, and finally press play to get some tunes going.
This worked OK most of the time, but I’d get interference from nearby stations as well as from other drivers using the same frequency.  Then I sat in a new Ford, tested the built-in Bluetooth, and fell in love with the wireless audio.  But I wasn’t going to buy a new Ford as I didn’t want the slow & cluttered MyTouch / Microsoft Sync interface.  So I did the next best thing: replace the stereo.
After researching stereos at Crutchfield, I picked out the Sony DSX-5300BTX.  Since this was my first time installing car electronics, I put a few hours of research into how to do it.  I was surprised at how straightforward it was – it only took 40 minutes to do the actual install.  I didn’t need a soldering gun or even a screwdriver.
What I ordered:
Sony DSX-5300BTX head unit: $139.99
– Total Cost: $146.48
Install steps:
  1. Use Crutchfield’s provided OEM stereo removal tools to pull out the factory unit 
  2. Test to see if Crutchfield’s included adapter harness fits
  3. Hook the Sony head unit wires into Crutchfield’s harness adapter (This is the longest part, but it’s only stripping wires & matching colors.  It can be done in your home in about 30 minutes.)
  4. Temporarily connect the Sony unit to the car and test to ensure the wires are connected properly)
  5. Use garden shears to cut off two plastic clips on the top of the Crutchfield provided enclosure (as instructed – but this will depend on your vehicle)
  6. Attach the ground cable
  7. Insert the stereo inside the (included) enclosure
  8. Push the assembly into the gaping hole in the dash & lock into place

New Shiny: Sony Bluetooth DSX-5300BTX Stereo – Day

I only have a few nits to pick with the new setup.  When the iPhone switches radios between wifi & 3G, there’s a brief blip in the playback.  Also, the buttons on the stereo are much smaller than the stock stereo, so they’re hard to hit if you want to switch sources while driving. And the digital clock in the upper right is too small — unless you put it into sleep mode by holding the off button for a few seconds — then it becomes huge.

Other than those few things, I’m really quite happy with it.  It sounds better, there’s no more static or interference, and best of all, I can leave my phone in my pocket for the whole drive.

Also want to give some feedback to Crutchfield’s tech support guys, Josh and a another person whose name I don’t recall.  They were so helpful & knowledgeable, even picking up the phone on a Saturday night to answer a couple questions I had during the install.  Thanks!

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