2004 F250 Stereo Upgrade

Ford
Super Duty
4×4
Stereo Upgrade

 

2004
F250 4×4 XLT Sport

 

Ever
since I bought my truck I had planned to upgrade the stereo unit. I’m
pretty sure everything below holds true for all 1999-2004 Super Duty pickups,
but before buying a new unit its always best to pull yours and verify the
mounting type, plugs, etc. I know Ford used this stereo type back in 1999,
because I gave my original stereo unit to my Dad to put in a 1999 Light Duty
F250 and it was a direct replacement for his AM/FM unit.

 

Here’s
the
original stereo from my truck, just the typical AM/FM single CD unit.

 

These
generation Ford stereos are double-DIN units so the aftermarket options aren’t
so great. The most common option is to get a double DIN install kit which allows you to
mount a single DIN unit at the top and use the remaining height of the double DIN
space as a storage pocket. Here’s an example of this
kit
from Crutchfield.

 


I didn’t particularly like this option so I
started researching the stock Ford stereos from other vehicles. I knew
there were better options out there because my Dad & sister both
have
in dash 6-disc changers in their 2002 Explorers. So, I started
researching
whether or not I could get one of these units and use it as a direct
replacement
for mine.

 

I
found
that there are a LOT of different versions of stereos in the newer
(1999-2004, and some 2005-2008) Fords that appear to be a direct fit.
However,
there are different stereo types, mounting types, and connector types
to watch
out for.

 

First,
the stereo types. Starting around 2005, most Ford vehicles started using the
larger (taller) stereo units similar to the one on the left, below. The
one on the right is the typical 1999-2004 size, that will fit.

 

Next,
the mounting type. In order for the stereo to be a direct replacement, it
has to have two release holes on each side. If the
release holes aren’t there, then it uses brackets at the top & bottom to
mount and will not be a direct replacement. You can see these holes in the
above pic on the right.

 

Next,
the connector types. From what I’ve read on the internet, the typical
1999-2004 connectors are black and are referred to as "world
plugs". The newer type stereos use "Audiophile" or
"phase 2" connectors which are gray. It is possible to find an
earlier size stereo with the release holes, and phase 2 connectors so that’s
something to watch for. However, there are adapter harnesses available that will make it work.

 

Here’s
a pic of the "world plugs" like my stereo has. The one circled
in red is the only one used in my truck. I’m not sure what the other plug
is. Maybe for the satellite radio input….?

 

Here’s
a pic of the phase 2 or Audiophile connectors which will not (without an adapter
harness) work.

 

So,
once I found which size, mounting type, and connector type I needed, I narrowed
my search to find the features that I wanted. I was shooting for a 6-disc
in dash changer that plays MP3s. I watched ebay for quite a while before
finding, bidding on, and winning the one I wanted. Thanks to some great
info from DavidB
on the Ford
Truck Enthusiasts Forum
I now know that this radio is from a 2006 Ford
Escape. So, I went to the Ford-Fleet
site
and downloaded the owner’s manual for an ’06 Escape, which has all the
info for operating the radio.

 

Not
all auctions have good descriptions of what the unit really is. One way to
easily distinguish a single-CD from a 6-disc changer is that the button to the
left of the CD slot will have "LOAD" on it, on the CD6 models. On
the single CD units, that button will just have "CD" on it. Some
of the CD6 units actually have "CD6" written on the face somewhere,
but not all of them.

 

Similarly,
one way to tell whether or not a unit plays MP3s is to see if there are any buttons that have "FOLDER" on them.

 

So,
the install was as easy as I’d hoped. Used the U-shaped removal tools to
remove the old one, plugged in the antenna cable and stereo harness, pushed it
into the slot, and clipped it into place.

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