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1998-2010 Volkswagen Beetle

How to upgrade the stereo system in your Beetle

2001 Volkswagen Beetle

In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Beetle'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 vehicle.

Overview of the Volkswagen Beetle

Designed to capitalize on the immense popularity of the original VW Beetle, the New Beetle made its bubble-topped debut in 1998. The vehicle remained largely unchanged throughout its production run, which lasted until 2010, when it was finally retired and replaced by an all-new design. The New Beetle was available in two flavors – coupe and convertible.

vw beetle base radio stereo

The standard Beetle radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The factory stereo system

The Beetle was also available with two different audio systems. The standard audio system included an AM/FM/cassette player with 6 speakers.

The upgraded system included an AM/FM/CD player with MP3 capabilities and an auxiliary dash input, as well as a 10-speaker Monsoon Sound System. The Monsoon system was not available in the 98-99 models.

If you’re in the market to upgrade your Beetle’s sound system, the good news is that a number of very cool receivers are available. Radios with fold-down faces are not recommended for this car, but a lot of single-DIN receivers will work nicely. Replacing the speakers can be a challenge, particularly if you’re upgrading the Monsoon System.

vw beetle monsoon stereo

The Monsoon stereo (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the factory radio

Whether you have the standard system or the Monsoon system, replacing the receiver is the same process. The difference comes into play when replacing the speakers in the Monsoon system. We'll cover that below.

Important note: If you remove the receiver while the security system is armed, it will disable the starter on the car. To disarm the system, put the master key into the driver’s side door, turn it to lock, and then unlock the door.

To start the receiver replacement process, you’ll need a pair of VW OEM radio removal tools (which are available with most stereo purchases from Crutchfield). Slide the two VW radio removal tools into the slots on the right and left side of the factory receiver. Gently push the tools in until you hear a click. The click is the sound of the system unlocking.

Pull the tools out slowly, and the receiver will come with them. Hold the receiver with one hand and disconnect the wire harness and antenna cable from the rear of the unit. Remove the two T-15 Torx bolts from the interior mounting bracket.

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.

Install your new receiver mounting bracket and attach the two T-15 Torx bolts, then insert and secure the receiver's metal mounting sleeve. Next, connect the wiring adapter harness to the new receiver's wires; this will let you plug the new stereo into the Beetle's stereo connector.

The Beetle uses a non-standard antenna connection, so you'll need an adapter for that, too. This antenna adapter also has a wire that needs to be connected to the new receiver's power antenna wire. These two wiring adapters and the mounting kit are available at a deep discount with most stereo purchases from Crutchfield.

Plug in the antenna adapter and the wiring harness, slide the receiver into the sleeve, and test the stereo to ensure it works. If the new unit operates correctly, install it in the dash and snap the stereo's trim ring into place.

This is a tight space, and installing a new stereo can be frustrating. According to one of our expert installers, the key is to feed the factory harness back into the radio cavity, with the adapter harness connected. It’s a tight fit, but it will go back in there. Once the harness is tucked into the dash cavity, leave just enough length to connect the new radio to its harness. Make sure the harness is neatly bundled, too, because there's no room to jam an unruly nest of wires into this space. This will take some patience, of course, but it's do-able.

Note: If your Beetle is equipped with OnStar, you might lose that feature when you install a new aftermarket receiver.

Tools needed: VW OEM radio removal tools, Torx driver and T-15 Torx bit, small flat-blade screwdriver

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

Shop for car stereos that fit your Volkswagen Beetle

Removing the factory speakers

The degree of difficulty involved in replacing your Beetle's speakers depends on which factory system you're working with.

Standard system speakers

The standard stereo system has six speakers, located in the doors, front pillars, and rear panels. See below for details on the Monsoon system.

vw beetle front door speaker

Front door speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Door speakers: You can choose from many 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers to replace the factory speakers. You'll need a mounting bracket and wiring adapter for each speaker, and these are available at a discounted price when you purchase your speakers from Crutchfield.

Getting to the door speakers requires that you remove the door panels. Start by removing the cover for the door handle, then remove the two Phillips head screws holding the door pull in place. Depending on the model year of your Beetle, you'll remove either two or three T-20 screws at the bottom of the panel.

Starting from the bottom of the door panel and working up both sides, pry the panel away from the door using a panel tool. You'll be releasing six retaining clips as you work around the door. Once the clips are released, lift off the door panel. Remove the door release cable and disconnect the wiring harness, then set aside the door panel.

The speakers are riveted in place, so you'll have to drill out the rivets and then drill new screw holes for your new speakers. This might sound daunting, but if you take your time and drill carefully, it'll be smooth sailing. Drill out the rivets that hold the speaker assembly in place using a 3/8" bit. Be sure to work carefully and wear eye protection when you do this.

Next, pull the assembly away from the door, disconnect the wiring harness, then remove the remains of any rivets with the nail punch. Attach the new speaker to the mounting bracket and use this assembly to mark the spots for the new mounting holes, and then drill them out using a 1/8" bit. Put it all back together by reversing the directions above.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, Torx driver and T-20 Torx bit, drill and 1/8" and 3/8" bits, nail punch

vw beetle tweeter

The tweeter, still attached to the pillar trim (Crutchfield Research Photo)

"A" pillar speakers: The VW Beetle has small tweeters mounted on the A-pillars. To replace these small speakers, you will need to release the three plastic clips that run the length of the pillar trim cover and then pull the pillar cover tabs (two at the bottom) loose. Disconnect the wiring harness from the tweeter. You’ll need to drill out the rivets holding the speakers in place and then replace them.

To mount them, you'll need a set of our universal backstraps and to connect them, you'll want to use Posi-Products connectors. Otherwise, you'll have to fabricate your own bracket and splice into the factory wiring.

Rear speakers (coupe): The factory speaker size is 6-3/4" and most aftermarket speakers that size will fit the location. You can also use a 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speaker with the help of a mounting bracket. This bracket and the necessary wiring adapter are included free from Crutchfield.

vw beetle rear speaker location

The rear speaker location in the coupe (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Replacing the rear speakers in the Beetle coupe is relatively straightforward. You’ll need to release six plastic retaining clips and one metal clip by prying along the side and bottom of the rear side trim panel. Once the clips are released, lift the panel out of the way. You can fold the seat down flat to get better access to the back corner.

Once the panel is out of the way, remove the four Phillips head screws holding the speaker assembly in place, and disconnect the wiring harness. Remove the factory speaker, then install your new speaker and connect the wiring harness. Reverse the steps above to replace the trim panel.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver

Rear speakers (convertible): Replacing the rear speakers on the VW Beetle convertible requires a bit more effort than the coupe. The factory speaker size in the convertible is also 6-3/4", but in this case, mounting depth is more limited, so not many replacement speakers of this size will fit. As with the coupe, you can go with 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers instead, and use a mounting bracket to make them fit properly.

The first step is to open the top, then fold the rear seat bottom cushion and remove it. Both headrests will also have to be removed. At the edge of the seat back cushion, you’ll find three 6mm Allen screws that must be removed. Remove the trunk access panel and then the rear seat back cushion. There is one 10mm nut that must be removed at the top rear of the rear side panel.

Now, remove the rear side panel by releasing the retaining clips (pry out at the front bottom edge). Do the same for the rear edge and then pull the panel out. You’ll need to remove the cable end, as well as the cable end stud to the convertible top cover, then disconnect the flap motor and tweeter harness.

There are four T-20 Torx screws holding the speaker in place, and you’ll need to remove these. Pull out the assembly, disconnect the speaker and replace it with your new speaker. Follow these steps in reverse to reinstall the trim panels, top cover cable and seat cushions/backs.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, 10mm socket plus a ratchet and extension, 6mm Allen wrench, Torx driver and T-20 Torx bit

Monsoon system speakers

The Monsoon system adds several challenges to the process of speaker replacement. The speaker configuration is similar to the standard system, with the addition of two sets of tweeter-and-woofer components in the dash. All of the speakers are powered by a Monsoon amplifier located in the rear cargo area. Overall, replacing any of the front speakers will be difficult.

Also note that if you replace the Monsoon system's low-impedance speakers with standard 4-ohm speakers, you'll notice a real loss of volume. Keep this in mind when you're shopping for speakers.

Door speakers: The doors hold 8" woofers that are riveted in place. You'll need to fabricate some brackets to mount standard-sized speakesr in this location. This speaker only receives bass frequencies, so when you replace it, the new speaker will only produce bass.

vw beetle Monsoon system dash speakers

Dash speakers in the Monsoon system (Crutchfield Research Photo)

"A" pillar speakers: Notes for these tweeters are the same as in the standard speaker system. They're easy to get to, but hard to replace.

Dash speakers: The dash speaker location contains a set of separates (a tweeter and midrange woofer) on each side of the dash, near the corner. Getting to them is easy, but replacement will require some work and you'll need to create custom brackets or use a set of our universal backstraps.

Finding new speakers to fit the location will also be challenging. The factory 3" woofer and 1.34" tweeter are located in very shallow spaces. The woofer's available clearance is only 1-3/8" deep and the mounting height is a mere 1/4". Like the tweeters in the A-pillar, you're better off just leaving these alone.

Rear speakers: Replacing the rear speakers in the Monsoon system is just like replacing those in the standard system. Mounting brackets and adapter harnesses are available for this location, and you can choose from 6-3/4", 6-1/2", or 5-1/4" sizes.

All things considered, replacing the speakers in Beetles with the Monsoon system will be more challenging than it would be in most other vehicles. Non-standard sizes and arrangements are the biggest hurdle.

Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information

Shop for speakers that fit your Volkswagen Beetle

Bass in your VW Beetle

Space in the back of the Beetle is tight, but there is certainly room for a very small subwoofer box or a powered subwoofer back there.

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

weathertech floor liners

Protect your Beetle's carpeting with custom-fit WeatherTech floor liners

Other options for your Beetle

Here are some other upgrade ideas for your Beetle:

Protect the carpeting

Daily life has a way of destroying factory carpeting, even if you're careful. Floor mats and cargo mats from WeatherTech will help protect your floors from dirt and damage.

Add iPod and auxiliary input adapters

If you intend to keep your factory stereo, but would like to add an iPod connection or an auxiliary input, there are adapters available. You'll still need to remove the stereo in order to connect either of these adapters, so just follow the process outlined above.

Step up your security

Installing a security system in your Beetle 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 of your own, give us a shout via phone, chat, or email


    Posted on 11/27/2023

    So i replaced my stock radio on 2001 beetle. Now when i lock the door with the key the alarm goes off. Any ideas? I now have to press the lock button and shut the door..which never used to work before.. the locks used to unlock as soon as door was shut and It was just like that before head unit was changed .. what wire is did i mess up? Or what else would it be.. do i need to jumper some wires that werr not used in the other connector? Stumped.. Somtimes if i lock unlock ooen door and shut relock with key it will not go off but most of the time the only way i can lovk doors now is push lock on door and close door.. i do not have any fobs for this car.. just the transponder key.

    Commenter image

    Crutchfield Writing Team from Crutchfield

    on 11/29/2023

    Korinna, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system.
  • Steve from Sanford

    Posted on 6/15/2023

    Can I use the existing amp on my daughters 2009 VW with Monsoon stereo for an upgraded receiver?

  • Emma smith from Grapevine

    Posted on 1/4/2023

    Hi! I have a 2010 hard top beetle and was wondering if I replace the radio with a new one with Bluetooth if I have to also replace the speakers?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 1/5/2023

    Emma, You don't have to replace the speakers when you upgrade the radio. You can do that later, or not at all. New speakers would really sound nice, though! 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.
  • Frank from North Providence

    Posted on 5/30/2022

    I have an 06 beetle convertible with factory speakers and a non factory stereo I want to replace all but the dash speakers are not available so is there any way I can bypass the original set up and do like one speaker instead of two???

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 5/31/2022

    Frank, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system.
  • Richard Collier from Columbus, ms.

    Posted on 9/28/2021

    I have a 2004 vw beetle hard top (coupe) and I am installing all Rockford Fosgate stereo equipment in it, amps, speakers, sub woofer, the works, but I'm wanting to put in a double din stereo to run it, do they make one that will fit in the dash without any mods. to the factory dashboard or is there any place that makes a dash to put a full touch screen stereo in the beetles!!!

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 9/29/2021

    Richard, When you enter your vehicle's info into our Outfit My Car tool, you'll see which stereos fit your car, plus the correct harness. If you have any questions, our advisors are available via phone or chat.
  • Joe Harrison from San Antonio

    Posted on 4/12/2020

    On my 2004 VW Beetle with the monsoon system the rear speakers are 2 ohm. After replacing them with Kicker KS series 6.75 coaxials I have to fade primarily to the rear just to balance the sound. The Crutchfield guide states these speakers are 4 ohm, that is incorrect, they are clearly marked 2 ohm on the rear.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 4/13/2020

    Joe, Thanks for the heads-up! I'll forward this to our Vehicle Research team and we'll look into it.
  • Christopher Parent from Phoenix

    Posted on 3/22/2020

    I have 2 10" speakers ready installed wood box (homemade) about a inches thick all around . And wondering how much will it cost me to install it on back sides (trunk) that I have a wood ready to put on so where can I let a professional to do that ?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 3/23/2020

    Christopher, You might want to check with the car audio installation shops in your area.
  • Joe Greenberg from Highland Park

    Posted on 11/12/2019

    I'm looking at a 2010 Beetle for my daughter and would like to install a new aftermarket radio w/ bluetooth. Is this do-able. What is the cost range (I would assume that a single din would enable bluetooth).

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 11/12/2019

    Joe, Yes, there are several single-DIN receivers with built-in Bluetooth that'll work in this Beetle. I've sent your question to our sales team, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.
  • Hope Lyons from Lady Lake

    Posted on 5/1/2019

    Have a 2003 turbo beetle vw with standard cassette and speakers. Is there a way to add CD without tearing the whole unit out? If not, do yuou have a portable CD player that I cash use. Thank you.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 5/2/2019

    Hope, Portable CD players are getting kind of hard to find, alas. At the risk of sounding a bit "salesy," your best bet is a new receiver that will play CDs and also let you listen to digital music stored on your phone or another device. Give us a call! We'll help you find the right receiver for your Beetle and your music collection.
  • justin from smyrna

    Posted on 12/6/2018

    have a 2001 beetle Without monsoon, has the cassette and 6 disc CD changer in the trunk we'd like to add a bluetooth and aux input for podcasts & such. preferably without replacing the head unit, since the flat head units look really weird in the beetle do yall sell something that will do this?

    Commenter image

    Jon P. from Crutchfield

    on 12/6/2018

    Justin, We might be able to help you with that. I've sent your question to our sales team, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

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