Honda Insight
Current MPG (August 2014): 51.9

The factory stereo seemed a little cheap for what the car was. Not only was it low-end, but included a tape deck with the option of an external CD player – in 2002. And since the stereo only worked half the time in my car, it was time for some tunes.

I did some looking around for something in my price range with the features I desired. I needed/wanted future-proof elements, such as phone support, USB key or AUX inputs on the front, etc. Crutchfield is always my goto for things like this. Why? They make it easy. They include wiring harnesses that connect what you buy to the factory harnesses in your vehicle as well as show you only compatible sizes of speakers and head units. No guessing involved.

The head unit I purchased was a Sony MEX-BT3100P. After looking among its competitors in its price range ($119), it offered the best set of uses. There’s Bluetooth audio support (from any device), Pandora streaming directly (something I may not use), front USB and AUX ins (up to 10K songs on the USB drive), and equalizer which can be set custom, a few outs in the back for external devices, and many others. Sony makes either really good products or really bad ones. I hope this one falls into the former.

The speakers were Sony as well ($49), XS-GT1638F. The Insight requires ‘thin’ speakers, ones whose magnet doesn’t stick out more than 2” from the front face. Crutchfield gave me a set of about fifteen to choose from of which the Sony looked the nicest and was prices for my needs. Since I’m not decking this car out to be heard from a block away, these seemed perfectly adequate.

The installation was fairly straightforward (as Crutchfield predicted on their site). Pop the speaker plate off, undo three screws and that’s that. The only downside of using these is that the Sony covers don’t work without modification to the door panel. But popping the original faceplates back on requires no modification at all.

Crutchfield also ships speaker wiring harnesses as well which allow for easy installation and removal of the wiring. – free of charge.

Remove the battery before doing anything.

The hardest part about removing the head unit is getting the dashboard apart. The clips used to hold it in place are enormous and there are many. It seems a straight-forward process, but it’s just tedious…and plastic. So be careful removing the dash panel. The following two pictures show the process (original pics from http://insight.fungiart.com/index.html)

Once apart, the head unit is accessible. It’s a single-DIN height installation only. There are modifications for double-DIN height units, but I chose not to go that route. I did look into video/touch screen audio interfaces. But because the dash sticks out above the head unit, and that most video units flip upward, it was impossible to find one that would operate properly.

The head unit, once removed, is connected to the vehicle with a blue factory harness. It’s got funky colors for speakers, power, and ground. Luckily, Crutchfield comes with a wiring guide to ensure that what I’m doing won’t result in a fire.

The Cruthfield harness that was supplied connects directly to the original wiring leaving exposed ends to be connected to the new head unit. It’s that easy. Just wire up the new connections to the head unit as shown in the head unit’s manual, and install in reverse.

Once installed, reconnect the battery and turn the key!

The intermittancy of function that the original head unit had was gone. It was either a grounding issue or a speaker issue. Either way, tunes have resumed.

The 2002 models of the Insight don’t ship with rear speakers either. But the good news is that the wires and ports are ready to go. All that’s needed is to cut through the rear carpet to expose the mounting frame, install the speakers and turn the volume up. That’s the next project. For now, the result was pretty good. With only two speakers installed, the sound is a bit shallow, doesn’t thump too heavily, but sounds infinitely better than what was originally present. I’m happy with the results.



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