car stereo "installation disasters"

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Hello. I am looking to hear from members about installation disasters. Want to stir it up a bit here. An installer in Phoenix told me about a high end install in an older vehicle. Deck, Amplifiers, Subwoofers and speakers. The customer left his vehicle at the shop. He left a contact number. It was to be ready the next day.The Next day passed, no customer. No one answered the contact phone number. Now this shop had a small install bay. Each day the vehicle was taken out of the bay and put in the parking lot. At night it would be driven back into the bay. One week passed, no customer. The way it worked back then the installers got payed when the customer payed the shop. Installers did not get paid very well in the 80's. The store thought maybe they were being set up for a clever thief. Suspect the equipment was removed. The owner thought the owner might show up during the day and drive the older vehicle away without payment. The car sat in the store's parking lot the whole next week, nothing happened. The installers were mad. No one had been paid for their work. They thought they spoiled a thief. One more day passed. One of the installers jumped on the roof of the vehicle and dented it. Another busted the headlites. Next day the installers broke all the windows. What a mess! Guess what. The very next day the owner showed up! The owner had a death in the family and had to leave for his familys emergency.
Back in 1992 ish.
Customer brought in a second hand, but newish low milage, merc 500sl (~2 Years old).
We fitted a mobile phone (analogue), no probs, went away a happy chappy.

Two weeks later he came back, "please remove phone".

Why ????

In that two week period he took it in for servicing at merc.

When germany saw the parts request for this car they wanted to know what was going on.

Parts list included;
Various ecu's, hydrolic lines, vacuum lines, control soliniods and actuators.
This was just the start of the list.

Turns out previous owner had someone 'improve' the car by disabling the traction and abs modules, modifing the engine ecu, altered the mileage, crimped some vacuum and hydrolic lines, etc.

Butchered, no other way to describe it.

Merc germany told the local dealer that this car was never to see the road again, and to payout or do a swap for the guy.


Installer had done an full system into a commodore sedan.
head unit, two amps, front and rear speakers, sub box.
Apparently he'd done a suberb job, just had to put the amp board in place and secure it in the side of the boot.

Grabed some screws and screwed it in place.
Walked around the car and Hello !!, self tappers sticking out the side of the car panel.
By several inchs at that.

Boss told him to "trim them off and use some touch up paint.


Same shop.

Salesman sold a pair of 6x9's to a guy with a datsun 720 ute (very thin door cavities).

No way they would have fitted without thick spacer rings.

Installer cut through the interior panel with a jigsaw.
Just happened to be a long timber blade that went through the outer skin too.

Within two hours they replaced the whole door with a different colored one from a wreckers and painted it themselves with a can from the hardware.

Paint was still wet as the customer drove out.
No they didn't tell him....


I've seen alarm power wires strung from the battery through the firewall (NO grommets) that tight that the alarm would go off over bumps in the road.

Screws through ecu's, both engine and gearbox.

Loooong screws though center consoles.
As in that long they stopped the gear lever from moving.

Screws through petrol lines/tanks.

Screws though gas (LPG) tanks.
One of my installers (obviously doesn't work with us anymore) actually drilled an amp into the fuel tank of a lexus, of course fuel was soaking the trunk by the time the customer came back complaining of fumes.

The next one that got canned drilled through the roof of an suv installing a screen.

That's about it, they're both no longer working with us.
When working in Tucson Az. I visited a shop named Installation Professionals. Nice shop. I noticed a new installer. I asked him where he previously worked. He told me the name of the shop. It was a Very well known shop. One of the top in the USA. It's no longer around. I asked him, "why would you go from one of the top install shops in the US to this smaller not known shop?" He replied," Well I was doing an install in a Custom Cruiser Boat." " I used a 6 inch hole saw to mount some speakers in the cabin and it went right through the hull." "I was fired."
Back in the day there was a competing shop (the guy used to sell refurbs and pull the stickers….but that is another story all together).

This guy used to talk all kinds of smack and how he was going to beat me with less power, smaller speakers and less money.

He had 12-12” powered by 6X autotec 333s. I had 12 kicker 15” powered by 6 zr 1000s (11 1000cca batts).

At the next event he pulled a respectable 155. I managed 160+ and pegged the meter (only went to 160 C weight). I also earned a cracked windshield and cheers from about 50 of the peps he invited to watch me go down.
That was a good day.

This same guy went out of business about 6 months after this because:

He did an install on a new vett and did not grommet the firewall or the sheet behind the seats that separated the trunk from the interior. Needless to say after about a week of rubbing the 4 gauge cable wore through and damn near cut the car in half. The owner was able to get the fire out but the car was gone.
The insurance company went after him with a vengeance.

I still laugh about these days gone by.
Good times......but always remember grommet the hole.

True story.
If I can't use the factory loom holes and orig grommets/seals.
I always a big diameter grommet, tape the wire for several inchs either side, and try to use some sort of insulated tubing.

I take NO chances.
It only takes someone else to replace the fuse with something stupidly big to cause potential problems later.

Installer had done an full system into a commodore sedan.
head unit, two amps, front and rear speakers, sub box.
Apparently he'd done a suberb job, just had to put the amp board in place and secure it in the side of the boot.

Grabed some screws and screwed it in place.
Walked around the car and Hello !!, self tappers sticking out the side of the car panel.
By several inchs at that.

Boss told him to "trim them off and use some touch up paint.


That would have had me fuming.

Hence why I install my own stuff,change my own oil (Never trust JiffyLube,trust me!),etc.
2 batteries?

I got a new 2007 Deisel Chevy van, and unhooked the Positive off the battery, set it down and got some nice fireworks. I then found out that Chevy DID use 2 batteries, and they hid the other one under the van's driver's seat on the outside of the van. I could have saved a lot of 4 Ga wire If I knew that before hand.
oil change

A long time ago I stopped by a Jippy Lube for an oil change. The workers noticed my car audio equipment I had for sale. One of them wanted "credit" and I refused. After my oil change I drove off. My transmission started making pinging noises. The further I traveled the harder it was to shift my Toyota Truck transmission. By the time I got home I could not shift my truck. Next day a Jimmy Lube tech came by to check my trans. When he unscrewed the transmission access plug a ball bearing dropped out! They denied any responsibility. My tranmission was damaged and I needed to change it. I should have given the kid credit. It would have been cheaper $$$$.
Working on a Lamborghini Counttach:

I built new door panels with custom upholstery and grilles for new speakers the client wanted installed in the doors.

I made the mistake of building left and right door panels using the old panel from driver's door as a pattern... of course the drivers new panel fit perfectly. The right side was a different story. The right and left doors were different by more than an inch.

So... after a new panel is made for the right side all is well...

This was done in the middle of summer in Phoenix.

Come winter... the gas struts used to lift the doors no longe had the strength to lift the door with the added weight of the speaker. So... we get new gas struts with 33% more force. This worked fine until the bracket in the door fatigued and broke. This in turn led to a large outward dent in the door skin... a result of the gas strut doing what it is supposed to.

About this same time... the customer was complaining because I "didn't" install his graphic equalizer. There was no room to put it anywhere! I put it under the dash... used a dummy head, pink noise, and an analyzer. Set the equalizer... and siliconed the sliders to hold the setting.

Apparently he wanted to play with the equalizer... despite the fact his deck still had salt & pepper controls right on the front!

My first gripe has already been mentioned. People doing their own amp or whatever install & running the power wire through the firewall without any grommet & no fuse at that. Or the good ole run the wire through the door jam & into the fender trick (with no fuse of course). Every time I pass a car on fire on the highway, I already know what happened.

Anyhow, I remember a guy at one of our shops arcing his wrench to a Ferrari's hood from the battery.

Another is a guy in our shop was mounting one of those little 2x25w amps & decided to mount it under the dash.... To the nice black plastic thing on the passenger side. About an hour later when the customer came to pick up the car, there was a pool of anti-freeze in the passenger footwell about 3" deep. Had to replace the heater core & the carpet.

OK, I'm on a roll now. Another one of our installers in the early days of remote starts (& a bit before they started making code books) couldn't find the tach wire. He was using piercing probes to search & did pretty much every connector in the engine compartement. Problem was that he was a bit overzealous & the wires had become very exposed. Needless to say, a new harness & ECM were ordered.

OK, now to tell on myself. One of my very first installs was mounting a CB receiver in a truck. The rear wall looked very appealing. So, I put a couple 1 1/2" drywall screws into the plastic panel it & called it a day. Until I walked around to see them sticking out the back. Fortunately for me, they didn't show too bad & the customer didn't care.

It's fairly common, but I have become quite good at repairing broken clips on panels. If they make them removable, they should make them durable.
Car stereo installation disasters

Man have I had bad luck!

Back in high school, I used to be the install guy doing everyone's stereo's, but then as I got into the real world and had an 8-6 job (semiconductor co.) I realized that I didn't want to spend my limited after work hours doing my own installations when I could hire "professionals" to do it for me.

Story 1.) Went to Circuit City (obviously a bad move, what should I expect?) and took advantage of the free install offer they had to install a new deck, and amp in the car. They simply used self tapping screws into the back of the seat - long enough to go through the back of the seat and into the guy sitting in the rear. The guy who did the install was the boss of the place, so I don't think he got fired! Ended up going to another, truly "pro" place to get the stuff reinstalled, and billed circuit city for the damages to the seat.

Story 2.) Moving back to Canada from California, all cars manufactured after '93 needed daytime running lights, but not in the US... so my car didn't have daytime running lights and I had to get them installed to be able to import the car. Took the car to a recommended place to get the daytime running lights installed - done - happy. Later was driving behind a buddy in the rain and he pulled over and asked why I kept flashing him. Turns out they had wired the dtrl into the windshield wiper circuit, and every time the wipers went, the lights turned off.

Story 3.) Took advantage, again, of a free alarm and cd deck offer at a big box store. As I was driving away, I turned on the deck and found that there was NO SOUND from the rear right speaker. Took it back and they said that it must be a blown speaker (refused to look at it.) I took the thing home and found out that they had shorted the right channel at the back of the deck. Fixed myself.

Oh, and my buddy's car caught fire in high school due to his 4-guage power wire shorting to the chassis of the car... but that wasn't my install! :)
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