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How to Install Powered Subwoofer in Car?

Are you ready to amp up your car audio experience?

Installing a powered subwoofer is one of the best ways to enhance sound quality and bring that extra oomph and bass your music needs if you do not have a space or do not want to play with an external amplifier.

It’s an affordable upgrade option, plus it can generally be done in under an hour with some basic hand tools. But how can you install a powered subwoofer in the car so it can sound as it should? Let’s find out.

To install a powered subwoofer in car, follow the steps below:

#1. Find a location for the powered subwoofer, considering ventilation and accessibility.

#2. Purchase an amp wiring kit, which should include wiring and fuses.

#3. Disconnect the negative battery terminal.

#4. Run the power cable from the battery to the powered subwoofer.

#5. Run the turn-on wire and RCA signal cables to the stereo.

#5. Connect the ground wire from the sub to the vehicle’s chassis.

#6. Mount the powered subwoofer into its place.

#7. Reconnect the negative battery terminal, test it, and adjust the gain on the built-in amp.

As an Amazon Associate, ImproveCarAudio will receive a small commission from qualifying purchases made through the links in this article.

Tip: Many powered subwoofers come with the wiring kit, but not all.

If you need a good connection to your new sub, I recommend checking out the Knukonceptz Kolossus amplifier kit with whole OFC wiring (link to Amazon).

In this article, I will give you a step-by-step guide on adding power subwoofers in your vehicle so you never miss out on great bass lines again.

How to Install Powered Subwoofer in Car? A Step-by-Step Guide.

Adding a powered subwoofer to your car’s audio system can enhance your listening experience.

Whether you love hip-hop, rock, pop, or any other genre, adding extra bass can make your music sound better and more dynamic.

But before you start shopping for the perfect powered sub, it’s important to understand the basics of installing one in your vehicle.

Let’s go through all steps in detail:

#1. Find a Suitable Location for the Powered Subwoofer

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide where you want to mount your powered sub.

This can be a bit of a challenge, as you’ll need to find a spot that’s both out of the way and easy to access.

In addition, you’ll want to make sure there’s enough ventilation to keep the sub’s built-in amplifier from overheating.

Some popular locations for powered subs include the trunk, under a seat, or in the corner of the cargo area.

JBL BassPro Hub 11" Spare Tire Subwoofer w/Enclosure and Built-in Amplifier (Renewed)

There are also powered subwoofers for the spare wheel, like JBL BassPro HUB (link to Amazon), but those may not fit into all cars.

Just keep in mind that the sub’s amplifier generates heat, so you’ll need to ensure it’s not trapped in a small, enclosed space.

#2. Purchase an Amp Wiring Kit.

Your powered subwoofer will not have the necessary wiring to connect it to your car’s audio system, so you’ll need to purchase an amp wiring kit separately.

Wiring kits are widely available and relatively inexpensive, and they typically include everything you need to get your sub up and running:

  • Power and ground cable
  • Turn-on (remote) wire
  • RCA signal cables
  • Selection of fuses and terminals.

My favorite kits are from Knukonceptz (link to Amazon), especially Kolossus with OFC wiring, and you can select different wire gauges depending on the power requirement.

KnuKonceptz Kolossus 4 Gauge OFC Amplifier Installation Kit

For most powered subwoofers, AWG4 for power and ground will be more than enough.

You may also want to consider purchasing a few additional items, such as wire ties and electrical tape, to help you keep everything organized and secure, especially under the hood to reduce free movement and wobbling power wire.

#3. Disconnect the Negative Battery Terminal

Before you start any electrical work on your car, it’s important to disconnect the negative battery terminal.

This will protect you and your gear from any stray voltage that might be present in the system. 

Simply locate the negative terminal on your car’s battery and loosen the bolt that holds the cell in place. You’ll need a socket wrench or a pair of pliers.

Once the cable is loose, gently lift it away from the terminal and set it aside.

It is handy to wrap it with electrical tape to prevent contact with the positive battery terminal.

#4. Run the Power Cable From the Battery to the Powered Subwoofer

Now it’s time to start running the power cable from the battery to the powered sub.

This can be a bit of a challenge, as you’ll need to route the cable through the engine compartment and into the cabin.

One way to do this is to use an existing entry point in the firewall, such as a grommet or a hole that’s already been punched through. If there isn’t an existing entry point, you’ll need to create one by drilling a hole in the firewall or using a grommet kit.

Just be sure to take your time and use a sharp drill bit to avoid damaging any other components in the area.

Rockville Rws12ca Slim 1200 Watt 12" Amplified Powered Car Subwoofer Enclosure ,Black

Once you’ve run the power cable through the firewall, you’ll need to tuck it under trim panels or your carpet until you reach the location of the powered sub. This will help you keep the cable out of sight and prevent it from getting in the way.

Some people like to use wire ties or electrical tape to keep the cable in place, but this isn’t strictly necessary. Just be sure to leave enough slack in the wire so you can easily connect it to the sub later.

If the wiring kit you purchased does not have the fuse assembly already put together, you’ll need to create one.

To do this:

#1. Cut a short piece of the power cable and strip the insulation off both ends.

#2. Crimp a terminal ring from the wiring kit onto one end, and attach the fuse holder to the other end. 

#3. Strip the insulation from the end of the wire that leads to the amp and attach it to the other end of the fuse holder.

Keeping the fuse close to the battery is important since the lead between the terminal and the fuse is unprotected. Many manufacturers suggest a distance of 18″ from the positive terminal, but I recommend making it as short as possible.

There are installations where the fuse holder sits directly on the battery cover, which is fine. This will help protect your system from any sudden power surges or voltage spikes that might occur.

#5: Run the Turn-on Wire and Rca Signal Cables to the Stereo

When the positive wire is connected, run the turn-on wire and RCA signal cables to your stereo.

The turn-on wire is responsible for turning the powered sub on and off, and it needs to be connected to the remote turn-on wire in your stereo’s wiring harness.

This wire is usually blue, but check your owner’s manual to be sure.

To connect the turn-on wire from the amp, you’ll need to locate the remote turn-on wire in your stereo’s wiring harness and splice them together.

This is usually a separate wire tucked away behind the dashboard. 

Once you’ve found it, strip the insulation off both ends of the wires and use a wire splice or a butt connector to join them together.

If you’re not comfortable splicing wires, you can also use a tap connector to make the connection.

Just be sure to secure the connection with electrical tape or a wire tie to prevent it from coming loose.

Next, you’ll need to run the RCA signal cables from your stereo to the powered sub. These cables are responsible for carrying the audio signal from your stereo to the sub’s amplifier, and they need to be plugged into the appropriate RCA outputs on your stereo.

Depending on your stereo, you may have one or more pairs of RCA outputs available with separate outputs for the subwoofers. Just check the manual to determine which outputs you should use.

Once you’ve plugged the RCA cables into your stereo, run them down the opposite side of the car from the power wire. This will help prevent electrical noise from entering your system and spoiling your music.

#6: Connect the Ground Wire to the Vehicle’s Chassis

The ground wire is responsible for completing the electrical circuit between the powered sub and your car’s audio system, and it needs to be connected to the vehicle’s chassis.

To do this, you’ll need to locate a nearby bolt or other metal fastener that you can use to secure the ground wire.

This could be a bolt on the floor pan, the frame of the car, or any other metal component that’s securely grounded.

Once you’ve found a suitable fastening point, strip the insulation off the end of the ground wire and attach the ground wire terminal to the bolt.

Make sure the terminal is in contact with the bare metal, as this will ensure the best possible connection.

If necessary, you can sand away the paint at the contact point to expose the metal. Just be sure to wear gloves and goggles to protect yourself from any flying debris.

#7: Mount the Powered Subwoofer and Make the Connections

With all the necessary wires and cables in place, it’s time to mount the powered sub and make the connections.

Depending on the size and shape of your sub, you may need mounting brackets or screws to secure it in place.

Once the sub is mounted, you’ll need to connect the power cable, turn-on wire, and RCA signal cables to the appropriate terminals on the sub.

These terminals are usually clearly marked, so you should be okay with figuring out where everything goes. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid damaging the sub or your vehicle.

It’s a good idea to use gentle curves with the wires and cables whenever possible to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. This will help ensure that the connections remain secure over time and your music stays sounding great.

#8: Reconnect the Negative Battery Terminal and Test the Powered Subwoofer

With all the connections made, it’s time to reconnect the negative battery terminal and turn on your car to test the powered sub.

Before you do this, however, I recommend turning the built-in amp’s gains down. This will prevent the sub from producing too much bass before it is fully tuned.

To reconnect the negative battery terminal, lift the cable back onto the terminal and tighten the bolt using a socket wrench or pliers.

Then start your car radio and listen for the powered sub to turn on. If everything is working as it should, you should not hear any faint hum or whine coming from the sub.

Once you’ve verified that the sub is working, you can start playing some of your favorite music and adjusting the gains on the amp as needed.

You’ll want to listen carefully to the balance of the bass to the rest of the music and make any necessary adjustments to get the sound right.

The good thing about powered subwoofers is that they are equipped with matching amplifiers, so you will not risk overpowering the driver or having it too quiet.

#9: Set the Gain on the Powered Subwoofer

Setting the gain on your powered sub is essential in getting the best possible sound from your system and is no different from passive subwoofers.

The gain control adjusts the level of the audio signal sent to the sub’s amplifier and determines how much bass you’ll hear.

To set the gain, you’ll need to play music through your car’s audio system and adjust the gain control on the sub until you get the desired balance.

You need to start with the gain set to its lowest setting and gradually increase it until you can hear the bass clearly without overwhelming the other frequencies.

Just be sure to keep an ear on the overall balance of the music and make any necessary adjustments as you go.

Conclusion

With the right tools and a little bit of know-how, installing a powered subwoofer in your car can be a satisfying DIY project.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and don’t hesitate to seek assistance if you need help.

Whether you love hip-hop, rock, pop, or any other genre, a powered sub can add depth and richness to your music that you never knew was possible.

So if you’re ready to take your car’s audio system to the next level, give it a try and see what you’ve been missing.

FAQ

Why My Subwoofer Doesn’t Work?

There are a few different things that could cause your subwoofer to malfunction.

It could be a problem with your car’s wiring, the amplifier, the subwoofer itself, or even the head unit.

Some possible solutions include checking all the connections to ensure they’re tight, testing the amp with a different subwoofer, and verifying that the head unit sends a signal to the sub.

Why Is My Subwoofer Making a Lot of Noise?

If your subwoofer is making a lot of noise, it could be a sign of a problem with the amplifier or the wiring.

One possible solution is to check all the connections to make sure they’re tight and not loose.

Try turning down the gain on the amp to see if that helps reduce the noise. If the noise persists, you may need to seek the help of a professional.

Why does the Bass From My Subwoofer Sound Distorted?

If the bass from your subwoofer sounds distorted, it could be a sign of a problem with the amplifier, the subwoofer itself, or the wiring.

Check all the connections to make sure they’re tight, turn down the gain on the amp, and try a different subwoofer to see if the distortion persists.

It may happen that the subwoofer is simply damaged. However, if the distortion persists, you may need to seek the help of a car audio technician to double-check the installation for you.

Why the Bass From My Subwoofer Is Not Strong?

If the bass from your subwoofer doesn’t seem very strong, there are a few things you can try to improve it.

#1. One possibility is to turn up the gain on the amp, which will increase the level of the audio signal being sent to the sub.

#2. You may also want to try adjusting the bass boost or crossover settings on the amp to see if that helps.

#3. Ensure the files you are listening to are high quality and not compressed too much, as this could cause sounds to be flat.