Front speakers in an SF5 forester.

In this DIY I will show you how to properly install a set of after market speakers in the stock locations in an SF5 (MY97-02) Subaru Forester. We will be replacing the tiny standard speaker wire with larger gauge wire so we don't run into any problems when using large amplifiers to power the speakers. This also makes installing an amplifier easier as you wont need to hack into the speaker wires behind the Head Unit (HU) to get power from the amp into the speakers in the door.

 

 Things you will need

  1. Your speakers of choice. (You can fit anything up to a 6.5" driver in the standard location without cutting metal.)
  2. Sound Deadening material. I'll be using Dynamat Extreme.
  3. Wax and grease remover.
  4. Rags
  5. 18mm thick MDF to make a spacer.
  6. Speaker wire.
  7. Black spray paint.
  8. Duct tape.
  9. Heatshrink.
  10. Solder.
  11. Zip ties.

 

Tools you will need

  1. Screwdriver set.
  2. Jigsaw.
  3. Power Drill.
  4. Digital Multi Meter
  5. Drill bits.
  6. Soldering Iorn.
  7. Heatgun.
  8. Scissors.
  9. Stanly knife.

 

Getting the door trim off

In the picture below, circled in red are the approximate locations of the screws that are holding the door trim to the door.

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First of all, we need to remove the sail panel. It is only held in my 3 clips, so it is easy to get off by using a flat blade screwdriver like so.

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Next we need to remove the tweeter cover, and the panel with the window switch on it. They are removed in a similar fashion to the sail panel. The plug for the wiring loom on the back of the switch panel can be quite stubborn to remove, a flat blade screwdriver can be of use here.

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Then undo the screws that were hidden behind these panels, as well as removing the screw behind the lever that open and closes the door as shown below.

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There are 2 screws located in the little pocket in the arm rest. These are circled in the picture below.

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There is also a plastic screw/clip on the side of the door trim. When undoing mine it broke, so I don't have any pictures. Basically, the center unscrews then you use a flat blade screwdriver to lever out the outside clip part.

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Now the bottom half of the door trim is just held in by clips, so just grab the bottom and give is a pull and it should pop off. Then all you have to do is wiggle the trim off the top part of the door.

 

Prepping for sound deadener

Now that we have the door trim off, we can start prepping the door for some sound deadener. Here is where out wax and grease remover and rags come into play.

First of all, you need to remove the plastic weather shield, and standard speaker and spacer. The weather shield simply pulls off, the speaker is held on my 3 screws. After this is done, your door should look something like the picture below.

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See all that dirt and mud? We need to remove this from the door so the sound deadening mat can stick to the metal properly, and not fall off in 6 months time. Use the wax and grease remover and rags to thoroughly clean both the inner and outer door skins.

 

Running New Speaker Wire

While the wax and grease remover dies we can run some new speaker wires into our door. The way I do it is to use the stock speaker wire as a pull through for the new, thicker speaker wire.

First off, we need to remove the kick panel trim so we can get to the wiring loom that goes into the door. There is one clip holding the kick trim in place, after this is removed, you need to pull the trim up, and towards the back of the car to pull it out. Below is a picture of the location of the clip holding the trim in.

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Now we have the kick panel out we need to locate and remove all the zipties, and bits of tape along the grommet and wring loom between the kick panel and the door. If we don't remove these, we wont be able to pass new cable through the grommet and into the door.

Once that is done, locate the factory speaker wire on the door side of the wiring loom. We need to cut the plug off these wires. Now we need to locate the other end of this wire in the kick panel wiring loom. There should be a large plug located in the kick panel,  one side of this plug will have the wires coming out of the door connected to it. This is the side of the plug we will be dealing with. There are two ways to find the speaker wires amongst the many that are connected to the plug.

  1. Test for Continuity using a Digital Multi Meter (DMM)
  2. Match the colours.

I prefer method one.

Once you have found the speaker wires on the kick panel side of the loom, you need to cut them off the plug, and strip them back like the picture below.

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Then you need to solder your new speaker wire onto the stock wire you just trimmed like so.

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At this point it may be a good idea to spray some WD-40 down the grommet to help the new speaker wires come through easier. You also may need to remove the grommet from the car and door.

Using the wires you cut off the speaker plug on the door side, carefully pull the new speaker wire through the grommet and into the door.

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Applying Sound Deadener

Now that we have given our wax and grease remover time to dry, we can start sound deadening the door.

You will need to cut your deadening mat of choice into pieces small enough to fit through the service holes in the inner door skin. I like to apply at least one layer of mat to 90% of the outer skin. You can use more if you want, however the law of diminishing returns applies heavily here. When done, your door should look something like the picture below.

 

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When this is done, we can start work on sealing up the service holes in the inner skin so we can deaden it. There are several ways to seal your service holes, you can cut out bits of 3mm MDF to fit in the holes, then tape them down or, you can do what I did and duct tape over the service holes, then put 2-3 layers of deadening mat over this.

Once the service holes are sealed, continue to deaden as much of the inner skin as you can. When done, it should look something like the picture below.

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Remember when applying your deadener NOT to cover the drainage holes at the bottom of your door!!

 

Fabricating Speaker Mounts

Now that we have the speaker wire run and the door deadened it's time to start making the mounts to secure our new speakers to the door.

First you need to find out the thickness of the Mount/Spacer that you will need to fabricate. This thickness is simply the difference between your speakers mounting depth, and the space between your window (when its wound all the way down) and the inner door skin. You can fit up to a 25mm spacer behind the door trim. Any thicker and you will need to start thinking about making custom door trims.

Once you have figured out the depth of spacer required use a combination of your standard speaker spacer and the mounting template that came with your new speaker to mark out your new spacer. When you have it all marked out, cut it out with a jigsaw, and pre drill the mounting holes for the spacer, and the speaker.

Once that is done, you need to paint your new spacer so it is water resistant as MDF loves to soak up water and turn to mush. Once done, it should look similar to the one in the picture below.

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The Finishing Touches

Now we need to make a seal between the speaker and the new spacer, and the spacer and the door. This is best done with adhesive backed closed cell foam. I say closed cell as it doesn't retain moisture like open cell foam can.

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Now, screw your spacer onto the door. Then you can attach your speaker wires to the terminals on the speakers. The best way to do this is to solder them, then use heatshrink over the top for insulation. After this is done, the speaker can be screwed to the spacer.

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The door trim goes back on in reverse to how it comes off.