Upgrading the 4Runner’s Dash Speakers

 In 5th Gen Mods, Accessories, DIY, Install

4Runner’s Dash Speaker Upgrade for Better Audio Quality

Dash Speaker Swap 5th Gen 4Runner

Swapping out the OEM dash speakers with a coaxial speaker, that has a woofer cone, and integrated tweeter

Most everyone will admit that the 4Runner’s audio system isn’t horrid, but it does have much to be desired. I personally find upgrading an audio system a little daunting, with all the speaker combinations, audio processors, subwoofers, I wouldn’t even know where to start.

However, until I commit to a full system upgrade (like from OEM Audio Plus), I chose to start small and test out swapping my OEM dash speakers with a much better coaxial speaker, that has a woofer cone, and integrated tweeter. These new speakers will add a higher bass output, and enhanced midrange performance.

With all the seat time I am logging in this 4Runner, going camping, exploring trails, or even in my daily commute, I didn’t want to settle for “meh” sound, I want great sound.

So for $47 bucks, I figured, why the heck not?

Let’s begin.

  • Install Time: 3-5 Hours
  • NOTE: This is not a direct Plug and Play swap, cutting and imagination required.

Parts Used:

Tools Required:

  • 10 mm Socket wrench
  • Socket Set
  • Tin Snips
  • Masking Tape
  • Cutting Dikes
  • Butt Connectors
  • Heat Shrink
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Flat Head Screw Driver
  • Electrical Tape
  • Wire (18 Gauge)
  • Solder Tool
  • Wire Cutters
  • Spring Clamp
  • Female Wire Disconnects (not pictured)

NOTE: Installation follows the Passenger Side, which is slightly more difficult. Same steps will be taken for the Driver’s Side, which will retain use of both OEM speaker mounts.

PART 1. Removing the Stock Dash Speaker (Passenger Side)

Step #1: removing the stock dash speaker grille

Step #1: removing the stock dash speaker grille

Start by removing the stock dash speaker grille. You may use an interior trim tool here, however, I was able to work a small flat head screwdriver in the gap, and proceed to pop off the two front clips.

TIP: I used electrical tape on the end of the screwdriver as to not scratch the factory dash.

Step #2: remove the two bolts holding down the factory dash

Step #2: remove the two bolts

Using a 10mm socket wrench, remove the two bolts holding down the factory dash speaker to the speaker mount.

Step #3: Remove the factory speaker, and unplug it from the OEM connector.

Step #3: Remove the factory speaker

Remove the factory speaker, and unplug it from the OEM connector.

Step #4: Remove the factory speaker mount with 10 mm socket wrench.

Step #4: Remove the factory speaker mount

Step #5: mask off the area around the speaker

For the rest of the installation, I masked off the area around the speaker as to not scratch it while installing the aftermarket speaker.

PART 2. Reusing the Speaker Connector

Step #1: remove the blue OEM connector

We will want to remove the blue OEM connector off the OEM speaker, this will help us connect our new speaker to the OEM connector.

The blue female connector is held onto the speaker by several clear clips. Using a set of cutting pliers, cut off the clear clips. The only thing holding the blue OEM connector to the speaker now is an adhesive. Work a flathead screwdriver between the blue connector and OEM speaker, breaking the adhesive bond and fully separating the two.
Using the cutting pliers, cut the two wires as close to the OEM speaker as possible.

Step #2: Removing the OEM Crossover

Working the OEM crossover out, remove with needle nose pliers. With the OEM crossover removed, I was able to solder a bypass between where the factory crossover once was.

Step #3: Building the New Harness

Gently strip the ends of the two wires from the OEM blue connector. Lengthen the factory wires with new wires, solder ends, and add heat shrink. Repeat to other side.

The Infinity 3022-cfx I used recommended the used of a supplied crossover. I attached the new crossover inline, with the same black wire of the previous OEM crossover, using butt connectors.

Also supplied with my infinity speakers was an adhesive foam strip to add around the edge of the speaker. I chose to add mine, whether or not it will make a difference for our application.

Step #4: Modifying the OEM Speaker Bracket

Using a pair of tin snips (or another comparable tool) cut away at the factory connectors to help adapt our new speakers to fit in the dash location. The driver’s side and passenger’s both differ and will require different cuts to assure fitment.

Step #6: Attach the new harness

Step #6: Attach the new harness

Attach the new harness to your aftermarket speaker and prepare to install in the vehicle.

PART 3. Installing the Aftermarket Speakers

PART 3. Installing the Aftermarket Speakers

Driver’s Side: Reinstall the factory speaker mounts using 10mm socket. Connect factory audio harness to the blue connector, and gently place into the dash, lining up holes of the factory bracket and new speaker. Reuse the factory 10mm bolts and tighten down with 10mm socket wrench. Lastly snap on, the speaker grille.

Dash Speaker Swap 5th Gen 4Runner Dash Speaker Swap 5th Gen 4Runner

Passenger’s Side: This is where things get creative. Utilizing one of the OEM speaker mounts (previously the passenger side right piece of the speaker mount), invert and attach to the left side of the cavity, into the dash, tightening down lightly. Connect the OEM harness to the OEM blue connector, and gently feed into the dash. It’s a tight fit, but there is a cavity that the wires will slide into. Gently place the new speaker down into the dash. The left side will line up with the factory mount that we modified, and the right side of the speaker will line up with the threaded hole in the dash that was previously for the OEM mount itself. Tighten down all three (two screws and one bolt) with a 10mm socket wrench. Lastly, snap on speaker grille.

NOTE: This side is open to interpretation, others have made their own bracket, extending the holes for better fitment. However, I was able to still achieve fitment by reusing the OEM bracket. With the new speaker sitting slightly higher, it will be a snug fit. If you would like a little more piece of mind knowing there is a gap in there, you can shave down the plastic ring under the speaker grille.

Verdict:

Replacing the dash speakers solved many of the problems with the OEM audio system. Before, the old OEM dash speakers, sounded muddled and cruddy, diminishing further in quality at higher volumes.

After swapping out the OEM tweeters, I am pretty impressed by how much the audio quality increased! The largest improvement I noticed has been in music particularly containing guitars, drums, piano or strong vocals. Overall, these speakers transformed the muddled crud of the highs and mids into a sharp, crisp, detailed sound. I was surprised how much detail I was missing out on with the previous OEM tweeters.

One of my favorite tracks to test was Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. I was amazed at the general increase of quality as the whole track played. Freddy Mercury’s voice was clear and sounded as if he was right there in front of me. The drum kit and cymbals were detailed, sharp, with a wonderful crispness with each hit. The audio even retained its quality all the way up to max volume.

Is it worth it?

Yes. For me, the benefits of this mod far outweigh the cost or time I put into the installation. With my investment into this mod being under $50, the most challenging aspect was the latter. Keeping in mind that this is NOT a plug-and-play application. The most difficult part was fabricating a new speaker harness and fitting these much larger 3.5” coax speakers into the small dash area. In the end, installation time pales in comparison to the future hours of enjoyment I’ll have with a better sounding audio system.

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Showing 15 comments
  • michael weatherson
    Reply

    Looks good Frank!

  • Nick
    Reply

    excellent showcase of talent and creativity here…could have saved yourself the time by just getting the harness adapters at tacotunes.com…either way, very well done Sir.

  • Fred Schwab
    Reply

    Great write-up Frank. Think I have to do this.

    Cheers!

    -Fred (aka PDXplorer)

    • Frank Rebelo
      Reply

      Thank you Fred!

  • Mike
    Reply

    Seems these REF-3022CFX are not made any longer, I did find these REF-3032cfx just not sure of the difference.

    • Frank Rebelo
      Reply

      That’s correct. Inifinty updated their REF-3022cfx to the REF-3032cfx. Although I did go with a previous model, they are still a LARGE upgrade from the stock tweeters. That and they were about $30 less on Amazon than the new model.

      • bernie
        Reply

        did you use the existing capacitors or do I need to buy ?

        • Frank Rebelo
          Reply

          I removed the stock capacitors and used the ones supplied by INFINITY.

  • Larry steven Broad
    Reply

    What size and kind of speakers do you recommend for my 3rd gen 4runner?

  • Frank Rebelo
    Reply

    I wish I could answer this question! The 5th gen has been my first 4Runner, and this has also been my first foray into replacing speaker components myself. I would start searching here first though, http://www.t4r.org

  • pat
    Reply

    any rattling or speaker coming loose. p.s. great job explaining

    • Frank Rebelo
      Reply

      Thanks!
      I haven’t had any rattling or speakers coming loose.

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