Aftermarket Stereo Install for my 2006 Honda Element part 1

So I’m installing a new Clarion head unit / Aftermarket Stereo in my 2006 Honda Element.


Something that wasn’t immediately obvious was how the aftermarket harnesses work. It is taken for granted that noobs like myself will understand that you have TWO harnesses you need, not just the one that comes with your new Stereo.

When you remove your factory radio, there is a harness that plugs into the back. Unfortunately that harness will not fit into your new stereo. You will need a series of adapters to connect the factory wiring to your new stereo. In theory you could cut off the old harness, and splice in the new one that came with your stereo, but for $12.00 extra you can do it in a non-destructive manner. This is good in case you sell your car, and want to reattach the stock radio.

To do this you will buy a female harness that plugs into the factory harness. It ends with a bunch of wires. You will then splice these wires into the second harness, which plugs into your new stereo.

When we are done it will look like this:


So we have our new stereo, the male harness that plugs into it ( white ).. some wires, which we will splice to a female harness ( blue ) that will match the male plug in our car.


For the most part the wire colors are standardized, and you will splice red to red, black to black, etc. HOWEVER you want to check and confirm a diagram that details which colors do what. You might find that some of the wires will match up differently. Matching up the wrong wires can do “bad things” such as frying your dash lights.

For example, on my Metra brand harness ( the blue one that connects to the factory wiring ) There is both an orange (illumination) and an orange/white (dimmer) line. On my aftermarket harness there is an Orange/White line marked Illumination. Seems like a no brainer… until I read this:

Now, if you hook up the orange/white (aftermarket) to the dimmer wire or negative illumination wire on the factory harness there will be bad things that occur. If you just hook up everything that is orange together (a very common rookie mistake) bad things will happen.

So for the time being, I am NOT hooking up the orange illumination line, since I don’t know exactly which wire to hook it to. I can live without illumination tweaks for now.

With my two harnesses wired together, I’m ready to install.


First step is to remove the trim that surrounds the radio.This looks pretty damn easy. Watch the first minute of this video:

Of course this takes me about 2 hours to get off. Basically I could not get the front to “pop” off – especially without tearing up the trim.

I broke the tips of two trim tools trying to pry this off, and even the soft edges of the trim tools were fucking up the dash. Here is the broken tip.

IMG_4932-600You can see the hard plastic tool bending completely without popping that panel off.

IMG_4935-600And the sad results


I got distracted with tutorials – there are a number of different ways to solve this problem.  One tutorial suggested taking off the entire center panel, and removing the radio bevel afterwards. So I spent a while learning how to do that. Although the bottom of the center popped out easily, I couldn’t remove the main area.

By the time I found what I needed I had scratched the hell out of trim. This walk through clearly showed off the area I needed to get the hook into. I could see that little area, so I gave up and just used a flathead screwdriver with a cloth.

I inserted the screwdriver head into that area, and added pressure – It popped out easily enough, and the other pegs popped out easily after that. I’m not sure what the issue was – but it seems like a metal hooked shape puller would be the ideal tool for this.

Continued tomorrow with Part 2.

Leave a Reply