How To: Install JVC KR-XW610 head unit in a 2005 Subaru Forester
In a previous message, I described how to remove the OEM head unit from a 2005 Forester, in preparation for installing a new JVC head. The second part of this message will include:
2. Prepping the JVC unit - drilling the brackets
3. Installing the JVC unit
4. Testing the Install
5. Buttoning up and final steps
Part 2 - Prepping the JVC head unit
My JVC KR-XW610 came installed inside a mounting cage. Remove the black plastic trim ring from the front. Then remove 4 small silver screws and remove the cage. It is not needed. You may or may not use the plastic trim ring - more on that below.
Decision Time: At this point, you need to make a decision as to how you wish to mount the JVC head. The Forester console is essentially flat and gently sloped, but the JVC unit is curved and slopes at a steeper angle. This front slope of the JVC unit does not match the the Forester console so some compromise is required. Here's the problem illustrated:
You could mount the head unit so that the entire front end protrudes from the console (and the large volume knob will extend even further). I didn't like that, but if you wish to go that way, then simply adjust some of the dimensions below.
After some trial and error, I decided that the bottom of the JVC unit would extend ~1/8" out from the console; the top row of JVC buttons would be recessed ~1/8" and the CD-slot would recessed slightly more. Here are a two pics of the finished result.
To accomplish, you need to drill two new holes in each of the OEM mounting brackets. Here's how.
One of the brackets you removed from the OEM head unit looks like this:
You will need to mark and drill two holes in each bracket. To mark the location, use a scribing tool. Don't have one handy? Then use a break-blade knife and a steel ruler. Do not
use a pencil for this.
Using the scribe or knife, make lines A1 and A2. The lines are at the very edge of the existing holes.
Next, make line B. Again, it's at the very edge of the existing holes.
So much for the easy stuff. In the above picture, note Marks C and D. The distances to these marks from Line B are as follows:
Line B-to-Mark C = 7/16"
Line B-to-Mark D = 1/2"
These dimensions give the head unit a slight forward tilt. These dimensions resulted in the finished install shown up above.
If you want the complete radio face to protrude (so the rear seat passenger can adjust the radio), then use
Line B-to-Mark C = 15/16"
Line B-to-Mark D = 1"
Or, make both dimensions 1" - no tilt. You could also make the radio extend even more - just do the math. It you extend it out far enough, you can use the Trim Ring mentioned above and below to trim the opening.
Once you have decided on the mounting depth, scribe Marks C and D with your scribe or knife. Then, get a center punch and hammer and make small punches at the intersections of Line A1-Mark D and Line A2-Mark C.
Drill the holes in two steps. Start with a small bit (~1/8"). Be sure the bit starts in the indentation you punched above. Then drill the finished holes (~7/32" or 1/4"). Remove any drill flashing, or flatten them with gentle hammer strokes. Mount the brackets to the JVC head unit using the pan-head screws provided by JVC. The screws you removed from the OEM head unit are probably too short, so don't use them.
The Wiring Harness
When you purchased your JVC KR-XW610, you also purchased a wiring harness, right? For the Forester (and many other Subaru's) you need a Metra 70-8901 harness or equivalent. Match the wire colors of the vehicle harness to the wire colors of the harness shipped with the KR-XW610 - it's a no-brainer.
I put on heat shrink tubing, then soldered the wires, slipped and shrunk the tubing. But there are other ways to makes these connections. One lead on the JVC half of this harness is not used - the blue w/white stripe wire with a connector attached. This lead is designed to power an antenna or something which is ON with the head unit. If you install a subwoofer (I doing that next), you can use this wire to signal the subwoofer that the head is 'ON'.
- Part 3 - Installing the Head Unit
With the harness assembled and the mounting brackets drilled and assembled to the JVC KR-XW610, you're ready to start putting it all together. Look at the picture of the opened console:
The antenna connector is on the right.
The Hazard Switch harness is at the top of the picture.
There are 2 RCA connectors pictured - I added this cable for a subwoofer. These connectors should not be present in your vehicle.
Note the horizontal beam. When you reassemble things, the antenna cable and main radio connection cable must be routed from the rear and ABOVE this beam. The ground connector connects BELOW the beam.
Look carefully at the control cable from the Temperature Control mechanism. It passes to the right of the large wiring harness (black in picture, with camera flash glare). When you pulled the console out, it's possible for this to cable slip to the left of this wiring harness - definitely a no-no. Be sure to check this to avoid unnecessary grief.
Here's another pic showing the cable routing to the right of the large wiring harness
Okay, I've attached my new head unit harness (the combo JVC harness + Metra 70-8901) to the vehicle wiring and the head unit. As I slide the new head unit into place, be sure to pull this harness down and out of the way. Hey, it's crowded in there.
The head is installed and held by the top screws.
Decision Time: Plastic Trim Ring. You can use the JVC supplied trim ring or not. If you don't use it, it will probably end up on a shelf, next to the extra pieces that came with something you bought back in 1988. I decided to use it to avoid the 'shelf' problem..
However, you need to make a small modification, so the Trim Ring will clear the top center mounting post. In the following picture, note the small notch cut in the top center. I did this with electrical cutters, nibbling the plastic out in small bites. Finally, I used a file to clean up the notch. One less part on the shelf!
In this same picture are two of the plastic 'trim tools' which I used to remove the console. They really helped, don't scratch, etc. - a very useful set of tools to have. Look on eBay or Amazon.
You're almost home. Next, reconnect the Hazard Warning harness.
Check all the other connections - if you took it apart, now's the time to put it back together.
- Part 4 - Testing the install
Look at your work area. Is there any reason why you should not reconnect the battery ground? Make sure tools are cleared from the work area, no loose wires, etc. The Vent Control and Temp Control cables are not yet reconnected, but they're not electrical.
Note that the harness for the 12v socket is still disconnected and very visible. If you can see it, you can see that nothing is shorting, etc.
Under the hood, reconnect the battery ground. Just push it down - you can tighten the clamp later.
Test the new head unit. Power on. FM reception. Really cool colors. Okay, it's working, right? It sounds like a radio? Let's get back to work.
Part 5 - Buttoning up and final steps
Gently press the console back into place, but don't snap it in yet. Before you make the "final push", get out your kneeling pads. On the passenger side, check the Temperature Control cable. It should easily line up with the cage and plastic pin. Don't connect anything - just check that it will fit (or, at least, it looks like it will fit). Repeat this process on the driver's side for the Vent Control cable. It should be on top of it's final destination, ready to be reconnected. All okay?
Now, press the console into place. Use the heel of your hand to snap the connectors into place. When all snapped in, install the two screws at the bottom of the console. Note the alignment notches next to the screws. Here's the console, snapped into place.
I installed a microphone clip to hold my cell phone. It's handy if you leave your phone on 'vibrate'.
The shifter trim is easy to install. First, reconnect the 12v Socket harness. Engage the front end of the trim first - the back edge will drop into place easily.
Back to your kneeling pad. You still need to re-attach control cables on both Passenger and Driver sides. You can do this by feel - it's easier than it seems.
First press the silver-gray stop block into its cage.
Then, press the bottom of the Tab inward until it engages. If you do this correctly - align it correctly - it goes in quite easily.
Reconnect the wire loop over the post. Make slight adjustments to the appropriate control knob to make the loop align - makes it easier.
While your kneeling, bent over and working under the dash, take your free hand and turn the appropriate control knob. The cable should move smoothly, causing the mechanism to function. Check it in both directions.
Repeat these steps on the other side of vehicle/console.
Tighten the battery ground cable.
Grab a frosty devil and reward yourself. You've earned it!
Addendum: Some months after doing this install, I sold this Forester and bought an 06 XT. The XT came with a different model Subaru head unit . . . which sounded just as bad as the head in the 05 X. So, I made a quick swap between the two vehicles. As of this writing, I'm still using (and enjoying!) the JVC head unit. It fit perfectly in the XT. Here's the same head unit, brackets, etc. in the 06 XT. I've upgraded my cell phone and added a GPS.
In another forum post, I added a subwoofer to the first Forester. I removed it and reinstalled it as well - the control is visible in the area of the driver's right knee.