Contact us
Close contact box
Connect ID #
694 685 08
Connect ID #
694 685 08

Sorry, chat is currently unavailable

Don't wait on hold. We'll call you back when it's your turn to talk with the next available .
Please enter your name  
Please enter your phone number  
Please enter a message  

Calls may be recorded for training and quality control purposes.

We are located in Virginia USA.

Thank you. We will be calling you .
We're sorry. We have encountered a problem.

1997-2002 Pontiac Firebird

How to upgrade the stereo system in your Firebird

Pontiac Firebird

In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Firebird's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. We'll tell you all about:

Then, use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Firebird.

Overview of the Pontiac Firebird

When the final 2002 Firebird rolled off the assembly line, no one thought it would be the final Firebird. The widely held belief that the legendary nameplate would eventually return basically went "poof" when the entire Pontiac brand went away. At least the Firebird went out on a high note. We'll never really know what the fifth-generation Firebird would've been, but we do know that the fourth-generation cars were arguably the best Firebirds ever.

Granted, the basic platform dated back to the days of 8-bit home computers (look it up on your phone), but there's something to be said for continual refinement of a good design. By the end of its run, the Firebird was, in almost every way, the best it could possibly be at doing the things ponycars do – accelerating quickly, handling well, and looking cool. If your Firebird is lacking in one of those areas, there are plenty of aftermarket solutions available.

These Firebirds aren't new anymore, but they're still a blast to drive. You'll enjoy the experience even more when you replace that weak, old factory stereo system with something as stylish and powerful as your car.

Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions

MasterSheet image
With step-by-step disassembly instructions and plenty of up-close, detailed photos, our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™ takes the guesswork out of removing the factory stereo and speakers. It's free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one separately for just $9.99.

The factory stereo system

Firebirds of this era, from base models to Formulas to tricked-out Trans Ams, were equipped with either an AM/FM/cassette or an AM/FM/CD stereo system. The base model offered four speakers, and an optional 6-speaker package was also available. The top-shelf 500-watt Monsoon audio system, which debuted in 1997, was a pretty impressive set-up for the time, with 8 or, finally, 10 speakers. That said, even the best Firebird system is approaching driving age at this point, and car audio technology has come a long way over the years.

The good news is that there's a lot you can do to pump up the performance of your car's audio system. Firebirds are reasonably easy to work on and, thanks to the vast number of people who have installed aftermarket stereos in these cars over the years, there's plenty of collected wisdom out there to help you make the right decisions. We have a fair amount of it right here, of course.

Pontiac Firebird factory radio

The Firebird's factory AM/FM/CD receiver (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the factory radio

Removing and replacing the Firebird's factory receiver is a relatively uncomplicated process, but there are some challenges. If you're reasonably adept with tools and basic automotive tasks, you'll be fine. If you don't have the tools or the know-how, there are plenty of professional shops that can handle the installation work for you.

First off, the factory opening is fine for the factory receiver, but too shallow for pretty much anything else. You'll have to unbolt or cut out the factory stereo's rear support bracket to make room for your new single-DIN (2" tall) receiver. And even with that, the receiver mounting kit (deeply discounted with Crutchfield stereo purchases) includes an extension piece that you'll need to use.

When installed, the radio will protrude from the dash by 1/2". It's a difference you can see, but it won't affect your shifting and you'll get used to it in no time.

Pontiac Firebird radio cavity

You'll need to remove the support bracket in order to install a new CD receiver (Crutchfield Research Photo)

To remove the factory stereo, you'll start by prying out the edges of the receiver trim panel to release four metal retaining clips. Remove the trim panel; then remove the three 9/32” (7mm) screws securing the factory radio. You'll need those screws again soon, so keep an eye on them. Next, pull out the radio, disconnect the harnesses, and set it aside. If it's the original head unit and there's a chance you might want to return the car to stock one day, wrap it up and store it safely.

You'll want to be gentle when you're prying away panels here -- and throughout the rest of the car, for that matter. The plastic is obviously old and brittle, and even if your Firebird is new to you, you're probably not the first person to go at it with a panel tool. You could wind up breaking the panel somebody else started breaking ten years ago. Be careful, work slowly, and pay attention to what the panels are doing as you remove them.

A wiring adapter harness makes the connections between your new stereo and the factory harness. You'll also need an antenna adapter and a receiver mounting bracket. All are available at a very nice discount with your Crutchfield stereo purchase.

Tools needed: Panel tool, socket wrench, extension, 7mm socket

Read our Car Stereo Buying Guide for shopping tips and advice.

Shop for car stereos that fit your Pontiac Firebird

Steering wheel audio controls

In most cases, it's reasonably easy to retain your Firebird's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with a compatible aftermarket receiver.

Pontiac Firebird front door

The base Firebird was equipped with full-range speakers in the doors (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the factory speakers

A new set of speakers will really improve the audio quality in your Firebird.

Pontiac Firebird Monsoon speakers

The Monsoon system featured component speakers up front (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Front door speakers

Base Firebirds are equipped with a standard 6-3/4" full-range speaker, while the Monsoon-equipped cars sport a neatly packaged component set with 6-3/4" woofers and separate tweeters mounted in the same part of the door. Both speaker packages are easy to reach and replace.

The base speakers can be replaced by same-size models, or 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers. The same is true for the 2-ohm Monsoon woofers, but a set of low-impedance component speakers (like Infinity or JBL) is the best choice here. A speaker adapter bracket is required for each woofer, and it's available at a discount with your speaker purchase. To get full sound out of your new speakers, you'll need to bypass the factory amp by splicing its input and output wires together.

No matter what speakers you're replacing, you'll need to remove the door panels to do the job. As noted above, it's important to work carefully when you're dealing with old plastic doors held in place by old plastic clips.

This isn't difficult, but the process varies depending on whether your car has manual or power windows and door locks. Power-equipped cars are very straightforward, but if your car is equipped with manual windows, you'll need to slide a shop rag behind the window crank and use a "shoeshine" motion to release the C-clip on the rear and remove the crank.

Whether you're installing a full-range speaker or component woofer in the larger opening, you'll need to cut out the back of the plastic cup or mounting bracket to accommodate the new piece. It's an easy thing to do, and it will give you the depth you need for a speaker with a larger magnet.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, socket wrench, extension, 1/4" socket, 7mm socket, shop rag

Pontiac Firebird rear side speakers

The coupe's rear side speakers are easy to reach (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Rear side panel speakers

Replacing the side panel speakers in your Firebird is a pretty basic procedure. The base stereo features a 6-3/4" full-range speaker in this space, while the Monsoon-equipped coupe has a 6-3/4" dual voice coil subwoofer in this location. To remove the speaker, pry out at the top of the grille, remove four 7mm screws, pull out the speaker, and disconnect the wiring harness.

Regardless of which factory speaker is installed, 6-3/4", 6-1/2", or 5-1/4" models will fit neatly into the space, but there's no wiring harness available for the Monsoon system. You'll either need to splice into the factory wiring or use a set of Posi-Products connectors to install the new speakers. Replacing the base model speaker, on the other hand, is a matter of plugging in, testing out, and buttoning up the grille.

On Monsoon cars, the 6-3/4" factory speaker looks like a full-range, but it's actually a component system with the signal crossed over. To get full-range sound from 6-3/4", 6-1/2", or 5-1/4" aftermarket speakers, you'll need to bypass the factory amp and run wire directly from the receiver to the speakers.

Convertible: With base and Monsoon convertibles, you'll need to remove the rear seat side panels to access the speakers. What you find underneath depends on the stereo system you have.

The base speakers are 6-3/4" models, which can be replaced by 6-1/2", 5-1/4", or same size models. There's no wiring harness adapter, so you'll need to either splice or use Posi-Products connectors. The smaller models will require mounting brackets, which are available at a special price when you buy your speakers.

Tools: Panel tool, socket wrench, extension, 7mm socket

Pontiac Firebird cargo area speakers

The Firebird's rear component speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Rear cargo area speakers

The speakers found under the grille in the cargo area of some Firebird coupes are a compact set of component speakers. There's a bit of drilling involved, but other than that, these speakers aren't that hard to replace. We carry a healthy number of 4" full-range speakers, in addition to some component sets that will fit in this space. You'll also need Posi-Products connectors for this job, because there's no wiring harness adapter available for this location.

To access the speakers, use a panel tool to pry off the speaker grilles. Using a 1/8" bit, drill out the rivets that secure the speaker. Once the speaker is loose, you'll need to spin it a bit, lower it into the opening, then lift it out. This isn't terribly complicated if you know how to use a drill, but work carefully and be aware of wiring, windows, fuel lines, and other things. Make sure you check the drilling depth and location to avoid damaging your car. And, of course, wear eye protection.

To install the new speakers, place the "speed clips" that come with your aftermarket speakers flat side up over the holes in the mounting surface. Connect the speaker wiring of the replacement speaker to the car's speaker wires, then secure the speaker to the speed clips with the screws supplied with the package. Be sure to test the speakers before reinstalling the speaker grille.

Tools needed: Panel tool, cordless drill, 1/8" bit, Phillips screwdriver, protective eyewear

Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information.

Shop for speakers that fit your Pontiac Firebird

Pontiac Firebird cargo area

There's not a ton of space back here, but a powered sub could work (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Bass in your Pontiac Firebird

If you like hearing a healthy rumble from your car's sound system to go along with the one coming from the exhaust pipes, there are plenty of ways to make that happen in your Firebird. The coupe's rear hatch area offers enough space to install something big and bold, and we've seen plenty of both over the years. If you don't have t-tops to store, you have a 37" W x 13" H x 7"/12" D space. If you do, it's 40" W x 8" H x 8"/17" D. Or you could just install a compact powered subwoofer.

The convertible is a different matter. The top has to go somewhere on sunny days, and that someplace happens to be about where you'd install a large enclosed subwoofer. The best bass option for the ragtop is a powered sub. These surprisingly powerful models will give you the enhanced bass you want, and fit comfortably in the limited (okay, tiny) amount of trunk space available. They're also a smart choice for coupe owners who want better bass, but need to retain some storage capacity.

Learn more about building a bass system in our Car Subwoofer Buying Guide.

Q-Forms kick panel pod

Q-Forms Kick Panel Pod, in Red

Other options for your Firebird

Here are a couple of other upgrade possiblities for your Firebird.

Q-Forms Kick Panel Pods

The custom speaker pods are especially good for convertibles. Available in a variety of colors to match your car's interior, Q-Forms hold a 6-1/2" component speaker system. This installation requires cutting the factory kick-plate to join with the Q-form, plus you'll need to cut holes for the speakers. Instructions are included, but tools, skill, and experience are required. This could be a job for a car audio professional, but if you really like music, it's definitely a job worth doing.


Those big, long doors can undo a lot of the good work done by your new speakers. Installing Dynamat in the door frames while you're installing the speakers is a great way to seal in sound and get the most out of your new system. More extensive use of this sound-deadening material throughout the rest of the car can help dull the rattles and creaks that occur in cars of this age—especially convertibles.

Antenna replacement

Replacing the old antenna on your Firebird is a good thing to do while you're doing everything else. You should also give the spare tire a once-over before you put it back, just to make sure it's in good shape.


Installing a security system in your Firebird isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.

Let's get started!

Ready to shop? Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your car or truck. If you have questions, give us a shout via phone, chat, or email

  • Carl Hill from ANAHEIM

    Posted on 10/4/2021

    I picked up a 1999 Firebird Formula that has been garaged for 10 years. Everything is in great condition but the speakers in the back buzz. Are the original speakers available anywhere? I dont want anything that would require more than just un plug and plug in.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 10/5/2021

    Carl, Excellent find! If you're looking for used or "new old stock" speakers, a visit to a Firebird owners' forum would be a good first step. Someone there will know where to find them. But if you decide to upgrade, give us a call!
  • John Blaska from Montrose

    Posted on 10/1/2021

    Just purchased a 2002 Trans Am Ram Air WS6 Performance Package. * I want to install an AUXILIARY into the factory stereo. What are some key things I need to know? What should I start with first?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 10/1/2021

    John, Nice find! With questions like yours, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.
  • Commenter image

    Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/22/2018

    Steve, Hard to say from here, honestly. If you order your new receiver from Crutchfield, we'll include our vehicle-specific instructions free with the order. You can also purchase it separately for just $10. Crutchfield customers can also call Tech Support for free help with stereo issues. If you already purchased your receiver elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Steve Moore from Orange park , Florid

    Posted on 5/21/2018

    I have a 1999 tran am. Want to swap out factory CD player. When I get the two front out , I go to pull the player out , but it almost comes out and stops before I can get to the antenna and plug in back of player. How do I get the player the rest of the way out.

  • Commenter image

    Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/22/2017

    Terry, If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Terry from Greenwood

    Posted on 8/20/2017

    I tried replacing my HU with a pioneer AVH-291bt. I am getting parasitic drain from my amp since the install. Seems the amp is not getting a signal to shut off with the new unit. I reinstalled the old factory monsoon HU and is working fine again. I have no idea why this is happening. I am thinking the blue wire may be the issue. Pioneer labels this wire as the remote wire. It is hooked to the new harness to the antenna(blue wire). Everything else is confirmed correct. Any thoughts as to why the HU will not power off the amp when the car is shut off? FYI, all other wiring is confirmed hooked up properly. I am just unsure about the blue wire. Does the blue/white wire from pioneer harness go to the blue wire in the car(power antenna)? It seems this wire is what sends the signal to the amp. Thanks

  • Commenter image

    Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/12/2017

    Peter, We don't sell stuff Down Under, alas, but ask your local stereo shop about Class D amps. I'm sure they can point you in the right direction. Good luck!

  • Peter from Sydney

    Posted on 7/12/2017

    I have a 98 Formula with an after market pioneer and 2 sets of Polk 6.5" component speakers. The speakers are 100 WATTS RMS each and it would appear that I really need an amp to get the best out of these speakers. The trouble is, I would like to install one without it being visible or taking up any of my existing boot space. Any suggestions on suitable amps?

  • Commenter image

    Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/13/2016

    Jorge, Though it does look structural, that bracket exists only to support the factory radio. If you pull the radio, it's okay to remove the bracket.

  • Jorge Nunez

    Posted on 4/12/2016

    I'm trying to replace hy head unit but the back bracet is in the way. My dad is addement on not remove that piece because "it holds the integrity of the dash." Is that piece actually safe to remove?

Looking for
car stereos?

Car Stereos Shop our selection

Find what Fits your vehicle


Checking fit...

Compare the sound