2017-up Chevrolet Bolt
How to upgrade the stereo system in your Bolt
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Bolt'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 car.
Overview of the Chevy Bolt
Electric cars have come a long way in recent years, mostly in the fact that some of them can actually go a long way. This Chevy Bolt, for example, can go over 200 miles on a charge if you’re gentle on the throttle, a figure that’s very impressive compared to earlier EVs. That kind of range is more than enough for the average person’s daily driving needs, and better still, the average person can actually afford to buy one.
And that’s the neat thing about the Bolt – it’s a car that happens to be electric rather than an electric research project that happens to be a car. From the subtle styling to the spacious interior to the ease of operation, the Bolt is designed to work in the real world. It’s not the best car for cross-country touring, of course, but it’s an outstanding choice for the kind of driving most urban or suburban dwellers do every day.
Because that driving will be done in the relative quiet of a modern EV, the Bolt is also a pretty nifty four-wheeled listening room. Upgrading the receiver is, alas, pretty much impossible at the moment, but some new speakers can help you enjoy your music as much as you enjoy waving at people standing at gas pumps in freezing weather. Read on to learn more about upgrading the sound in your Bolt.
This isn't a receiver, really. It's more like a command center for your Bolt that also plays music. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The factory stereo system
The Bolt’s base system consists of an AM/FM/SiriusXM “receiver” with six speakers. The premium Bose® system adds upgraded speakers and a 6-1/2" subwoofer in the cargo area. With no CD player, connectivity is key, so the base Bolt offers two USB inputs and an AUX input in the center console storage compartment. The Bose® system sports those three, plus two charging USB ports on the back of the center console.
Upgrading the stereo gear is a little more complicated in an electric car. As you might expect, these vehicles contain some very sensitive electronics, so here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to only use a multi-meter when testing wires. NEVER test wires in this vehicle with a test light. Doing so could cause serious damage to the vehicle.
- An EV is not the car to choose if you want to build a massively powerful audio system. We do not recommend installing any amplifiers in electric vehicles due to the current draw that they will introduce to the system.
We’re referring to the big-screen thing in the middle of the dash as a “receiver,” but it’s quite a bit more than that. Like an executive who’s also the drummer in a local bar band, this unit does a lot of very important things and plays music on the side. As a result of all this responsibility, this unit is more or less impossible to replace, so we don’t recommend trying it.
As you hopefully saw in the enormous warning box above, we also don’t recommend installing an aftermarket amplifier or installing a big subwoofer. The best way to upgrade the sound is to replace the stock speakers, so we’ll focus on that. Our experts recommend choosing really efficient (90dB or above-ish) speakers because they'll sound great and work well in your Bolt.
Replacing the door speakers is a reasonably easy task in the Bolt (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the factory speakers
All Bolts have speakers in the dash corners and doors, and the Bose system includes a subwoofer. Replacing the speakers is generally pretty easy, so if you’re new to car audio DIY, you should be okay.
If you have questions in the middle of your installation, your Crutchfield speaker purchase comes with free tech support for the life of the gear. Our experts are right here in Virginia and they’ll happily help you with any installation issues that come up.
Before you start doing anything, remember to set the parking brake and disconnect the negative battery cable to prevent any electrical short.
Replacing the stock tweeters will enhance your system's overall sound (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Corner dash tweeters
The dash tweeters are a bit less than 2" (1.602", to be precise) in diameter and they’re reasonably easy to reach and replace. To start, you’ll need to pull the door gasket away from the body along the dash, then use a panel tool to pry off the dash endcap trim panel to release five clips. Once that’s done, remove the trim panel.
Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions
Next, starting at the top edge, pry off the pillar trim panel to release two clips. Push down on the tether to release it, then slide it off. Next, lift up the pillar trim panel and remove it. Pry up the corner dash grille to release three clips, then disconnect the harness and remove the grille/tweeter assembly. You’ll need to pry the tweeter out of the grille to release three clips.
There’s no wiring harness available for this speaker, so you'll have to splice or tap the vehicle's speaker wires to your new speaker wires. For an easier solution, we recommend Posi-Products speaker connectors. There’s also no mounting bracket for these speakers, so you’ll need to use hot glue, silicone, or our universal backstraps to secure the aftermarket tweeters.
Tools Required: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver
You'll need to remove the panels to replace the Bolt's door speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door speakers
The Bolt’s front door speakers are 6-3/4" models that can be replaced by a variety of same-size or 6-1/2" aftermarket models. You’ll need mounting brackets to install any aftermarket speakers, and we’ll include them with your Crutchfield speaker purchase. With 6-3/4" speakers, you’ll need to remove the inner tabs on the aftermarket speaker bracket.
To remove the stock speakers, start at the top edge and pry out the screw cover behind the door release handle, then remove one exposed 7mm screw. Next, pry open the screw cover inside the door pull cup and remove one exposed 7mm screw.
Pry out all sides of the door panel to release fourteen clips, then disconnect the harnesses and the door release handle before removing the door panel and storing it someplace safe.
With the panel out of the way, all that’s left is to remove the 7mm screw securing the top of the speaker. Pry out the top of the speaker to release one clip, then disconnect the harness and remove the speaker.
Once the new speakers are connected, test them out to make sure they’re working. If they are, and if the windows and locks are also working as they should, start putting the door back together.
Tools Required: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, 7mm socket, ratchet and extension
The rear speakers are the same as the fronts, and they come out pretty much the same way (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear door speakers
The rear door speakers are also 6-3/4" models, and the aftermarket speaker size and bracket info is the same as the front doors. So is the removal and replacement process, so if you can do that, you can do this.
Start at the top edge and pry off the sail panel to release four clips and remove the panel. Next, starting at the top edge again, pry out the screw cover behind the door release handle, then remove the exposed 7mm screw. Pry open the screw cover inside the door pull cup and remove that exposed 7mm screw.
Pry out all sides of the door panel to release thirteen clips, then disconnect the harnesses and the door release handle before removing the door panel and setting it aside. Remove the 7mm screw securing the top of the speaker, then pry out the top of the speaker to release one clip. Disconnect the harness and remove the speaker.
After you’ve installed your new speakers, test them out, check the locks and windows, and if everything’s fine, start putting it all back together.
Tools Required: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, 7mm socket, ratchet and extension
The Bose subwoofer is housed in this enclosure under the cargo floor (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Cargo floor subwoofer (Bose® system only)
The 6-1/2" Bose® subwoofer is located in the cargo floor, underneath some stuff. That said, it’s not that hard to reach. The factory amp is in there, too, by the way.
Remove the cargo floor panel and the foam tray cover, then remove the large wing bolt from the foam tray and remove it. Once you do that, you’ll see the sub enclosure. Disconnect the harness, then remove the three 10mm nuts securing the enclosure and remove the enclosure from the car. With the enclosure safety on a workbench or other flat surface, remove the four 1/4" screws securing the sub to the enclosure, then disconnect the harness and remove the sub.
You'll need to remove the locating pins from the factory sub location before mounting your aftermarket sub. Removing the pins won’t affect reinstallation of the factory speaker.
The more notable part of the job is drilling new mounting holes for your aftermarket sub. This isn’t any harder than drilling into something in your house, but you’ll still want to work carefully and definitely wear eye protection. Use the new sub to mark the spots for the new holes.
Tools Required: 10mm deep-well and 1/4" sockets, ratchet and extension, pliers, drill with 1/8" bit
Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information.
Custom-fit Weathertech floor liners will look great and protect your Bolt's carpeting
Other options for your Chevy Bolt
There are plenty of other ways to improve the sound, safety, and comfort of your Bolt. Here are some of the ways Crutchfield can help.
Protect your car's interior
Everyday life can be a bit much for factory floor mats. A set of custom floor liners from WeatherTech will help protect your car's carpeting from dirt and damage.
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. Ask a Crutchfield Advisor about adding remote start to your Bolt.
You can also talk to your Crutchfield Advisor about a security system. They’re not as easy to install (we suggest letting a professional do the job), but we can help you shop for a system that’ll work in your vehicle.