2007-2012 Nissan Altima sedan
How to upgrade the stereo system in your Altima
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Altima's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. We'll tell you all about:
- The factory stereo system
- Removing the factory radio
- Removing the factory speakers
- Adding more bass
- Other options for your Altima
Then, use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Nissan.
Overview of the Nissan Altima sedan
Mid-size family sedans are the "mild" salsa of the automotive world. Not too spicy, not too interesting, and unlikely to make any impression (good or bad) at all on anyone. That's why people bring mild salsa to office parties and that's also why airport rental lots are full of ordinary, inoffensive mid-sized sedans.
The Nissan Altima, on the other hand, is a bowl of ghost pepper salsa with a notecard in front of it covered in flaming skulls and heat warnings. It's the mid-sized sedan for people who want a little extra kick in their commute, especially when equipped with the exceptionally spicy V-6 engine. It's also comfortable, reliable, and normal-looking, so your neighbors will never know you're a speed-crazed hooligan if you don't tell them.
The Altima's stock stereos, especially the optional Bose® systems, are pretty tasty as these things go, but technology moves fast and if you want your sports sedan to keep up, you'll need some new gear. The good news is that the Altima sedan is pretty easy to upgrade and the better news is that there's lots of great gear that'll fit.
The base radio is somewhat lacking in modern conveniences (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo systems in the Nissan Altima
The Altima sedan's base stereo is a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD set-up with an AUX input on the receiver. The optional 9-speaker Bose system features an AM/FM/6-CD receiver with an AUX input and built-in XM satellite radio. The top-of-the-line system adds touchscreen navigation to the Bose system.
Radio-delete Altimas, made mostly for fleet sales, are out there, too. If you have one, you can replace the storage cubby with a new receiver. The door and dash speaker locations are pre-wired, which will make installing new speakers much easier.
The Altima Hybrid presents a different set of challenges. See the note below, and give us a call if you have any questions.
The hot set-up in the Altima was the nav receiver paired with Bose speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
For example, when you replace the factory nav receiver, the wiring harness (included at a deep discount with your receiver purchase) does not have a ground connection, you'll need to connect the new car stereo to a grounding point in your Altima. Non-nav receivers do have a ground connection, so no problem there.
The non-nav Bose system's receiver also offers some interesting angles. In order to retain the factory Bose amp (located under the liner on the right rear corner of the trunk), the wiring harness in this package needs to be connected to the new receiver's front and rear preamp outputs. If you choose a receiver without those outputs, our installation package will include the line converter you'll need to retain use of the amp. You're good either way, but just a heads-up.
Last but not least, replacing the receiver means losing the factory AUX input and (if present) XM satellite radio. This is not a big deal, since there are lots of receivers that give you both of those things and a lot more.
We'll remind you of those things (and some other things) throughout the shopping process, of course, but you read it here first. Our Outfit My Car tool will make sure you get the right gear for your car.
A hybrid's gas-electric hybrid powertrain makes replacing the stereo is a little more complicated. As you might expect, these hybrid cars contain some very sensitive electronics, so here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to only use a multimeter when testing wires, and NEVER use a test light to test wires in this vehicle. Doing so could cause some serious (by which we mean dangerous and expensive) damage.
- A hybrid is not the car to choose if you want to build a massively powerful audio system. The thirsty current draw of a high-powered stereo is not a good thing for the hybrid system, so don't exceed a 30-amp current draw or 350-watt RMS power rating.
Removing and replacing the stock radio is a reaonably easy process in the Altima (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the factory radio
Replacing the stock radio isn't that hard to do, but before you do anything, set the parking brake and disconnect the negative battery cable to prevent any electrical short. Once that's straight, you're good to go.
Use a panel tool to pry out the sides of the upper dash vent assembly and release the retaining clips. Pull the whole assembly out and set it on top of the dash. Don't disconnect the harness — it's an airbag sensor thing. Do, however, use a clean towel to protect the dash surface.
This will expose two Phillips screws, which you'll need to remove. Pry out the lower climate control trim panel and remove two more exposed Phillips screws.
If your car does not have factory nav, you can skip the rest of this paragraph. If it does, you'll need to pry out the CD changer trim panel to release the retaining clips, then disconnect the harness and pull the whole thing out. Remove the six Phillips screws securing the CD changer brackets to the dash and pull the changer out just enough to access the bracket that's behind it.
Next (Welcome back, non-nav people!), pull out the whole receiver/climate control assembly, disconnect the wiring harnesses, and remove it.
To finish up, you'll need to remove two Torx T20 screws on the back of the receiver trim panel, then pry out the panel clips to remove the panel. Remove the eight Torx T20 screws (four on each side) securing the receiver to the brackets and get the old piece out of there.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, Torx T20 driver (nav receiver only), towel
Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions
Read our Car Stereo Buying Guide for shopping tips and advice.
Steering wheel audio controls
In most cases, it's reasonably easy to retain your Altima'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.
The front door speakers can be replaced by 6-1/2" or 6-3/4" aftermarket models (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the factory speakers
Speaker replacement is generally straightforward in the Altima Sedan, but there are some things to be aware of before you start and some speakers are a little more challenging to deal with than others. The job's not hard overall, but preparation and patience will serve you well when you upgrade your car's speakers.
You'll need to fabricate mounting brackets when you replace the corner and center dash speakers.
The 3-1/2" center dash speaker is an easy swap (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing your Altima's center dash speaker
The 3-1/2" center dash speaker is very easy to work with, and same-size replacements are available. Use a panel tool to pry up the rear edge of the center dash grille to release the retaining clips, then remove the grille. Remove the four 8mm screws securing the stock speaker to the dash, then disconnect it and set it aside.
Tools needed: Panel tool, right-angle 8mm driver or wrench
In the corners, you'll find 3-1/2" speakers that are very easy to get to (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing your Altima's corner dash speakers
The Altima's corner dash speakers are also 3-1/2" models, and they're also easy to remove. Pull down the weatherstrip beside the pillar trim panel, then pull the pillar trim panel away from the pillar to release the retaining clips. Remove the panel, then use your panel tool to pry up on the rear edge of the corner dash grille to release those retaining clips.
Set the grille aside, then remove four 8mm screws securing the speaker to the dash. Disconnect the wiring harness, remove the speaker, and get ready to install the new speakers.
Tools needed: Panel tool, right-angle 8mm driver or wrench
Replacing the Altima's low-impedance speakers with higher-impedance aftermarket models will result in lower volume levels (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing your Altima's front door speakers
The front door speakers are 6-1/2" models that can be replaced by same-size or 6-3/4" models. You'll need mounting brackets for either size, and we'll include them with your Crutchfield speaker purchase.
The stock speakers (both base and Bose) are lower impedance speakers, so replacing them with higher-impedance aftermarket models will result in lower volume levels. Keep that in mind while you shop.
The rest of the job is pretty straightforward. You'll need to remove the door panels, but all in all, this is a very do-able DIY project. Complete, illustrated instructions can be found in your MasterSheet.
Here, and everywhere else in the car, be sure to test the speakers and make sure they're working before you put things back together. Test the door locks and windows before you button everything up, too.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, drill with 1/8" bit
Replacing the Bose-only rear door speakers involves the same tasks you do up front (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing your Altima's rear door speakers
The rear door speakers, found only in Bose-equipped Altimas, are essentially the same as the front door speakers. Pretty much everything in the paragraph above also applies here.
Tools needed: Panel tool, 10mm driver, drill with 1/8" bit
This isn't as bad as it looks, really. Well, mostly. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing your Altima's rear deck speakers
The rear deck speakers, found in both base and Bose cars, are 6"x9" models that can be replaced by same-size, 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" models. You'll need mounting brackets for the smaller ones, and they'll be included with your Crutchfield speaker purchase.
This isn't a hard job, really, but it can be a long one. There are a lot of steps involved, and you'll have to remove the back seat and a lot of panels to get to the speakers. Is it worth it? Absolutely, but you'll need to set aside some time to get it done, and you might want to invest in some pizza and invite a friend over to help. Organization helps, too, so keep the panels sorted, and hold onto the factory screws, because you'll need them again later.
As we've mentioned several times already, these are lower-impedance speakers, so replacing them with higher-impedance aftermarket models will result in lower volume levels. And while this is also a repeat, one look at the photo should underline why it's a really, really good idea to make sure the speakers are working properly before you put the whole area back together again. You should pay particular attention to the seat belts and the third brake light, too.
Tools needed: Panel tool, 13mm socket, ratchet and extension, right-angle 8mm driver, 10mm driver, small flat blade screwdriver
Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information.
The Altima's spacious trunk leaves you plenty of room for a subwoofer box (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Bass in your Altima
The Altima sedan has a good-sized trunk, so there's a decent amount of room for bass. If you want to mount a subwoofer box back there, you'll have a 40" W x 16" H x 39"/26" D space to work with.
If you don't want to devote all that cargo space to a sub enclosure and external amplifier, you can add a powered subwoofer, which will take up a lot less space. Either way, you'll enjoy a nice boost in bottom-end sound.
Learn more about building a bass system in our Car Subwoofer Buying Guide.
The Sound Ordnance M75-4 amplifier has four channels and a 3-year warranty
Other options for your Altima
Here are some other sound and security ideas for your Altima Sedan. If you want to learn more, give us a call and talk to one of our expert advisors.
Add an amp (or two)
A new 4-channel amplifier will help you get the most out of your new speakers. You'll get cleaner power (and a lot more of it), which will result in much, much better sound. A mono amp can provide the juice you need for your new subwoofer, too. Learn more about adding amps to your system in our Car Amplifier Buying Guide.
Send a clear signal with a sound processor
If you choose to keep the stock radio, install a sound processor to send a clear, clean signal to your new amp. Sound processors remove any limitations on the signal imposed by the factory radio. The better the signal, the better the sound. Read our article explaining factory sound processors to learn more.
Remote start and security systems
Adding remote start capability to your vehicle lets you warm it up in the winter or cool it down in the summer. The iDatastart system is incredibly convenient and makes it easier than ever to install a remote start system, so we highly recommend it. The module requires a vehicle-specific T-harness (sold separately) to connect with your vehicle's computer, security, and ignition systems, so we ask that you call to order so that we can make sure you get the right harness for your ride.
You can also talk to your Crutchfield Advisor about a security system. They’re not as easy to install (we usually suggest letting a professional do the job), but we can help you choose a system that’ll work in your vehicle.