How to Install/Replace an Aftermarket Sirius or XM Satellite Antenna - Subaru WRX Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 05-21-2011, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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How to Install/Replace an Aftermarket Sirius or XM Satellite Antenna

This is actually a very simple job. However, there are some tricks to makes things easier and faster. The biggest thing to be mindful is that the sat antenna wire is VERY fragile. It's not a single copper wire. It's actually a miniaturized coaxial cable (think cable tv wire), so any kinks in the lines or excessive strain will damage the cable.

You know when your antenna is going bad when you start getting either connection problems, or it has trouble acquiring signal, or fades in and out of getting signal. One most common cause for antennas going bad is antenna wire damage from an improper install. The other is moisture or rain getting inside the antenna and eventually corroding the electronics on the inside of the antenna. This is more common than you think. We would replace a couple a week.

I worked as an Geek Squad Installer at Best Buy for about a year and a half. I'll pass along some tips so you can get this done fast and the correct way, even if it's not a Subaru you're installing this on. Running a replacement antenna should only take 10 to 15 minutes, but probably more realistically an hour for someone that's never done this kind of work.

First thing you need to look at is where you want to install it. The roof is the best place. It will get the best, unobstructed signal with less risk from damage from outside sources. However, some vehicles don't have the rubber "tract" where you can hide the wire. In cases like this, or for people that want to avoid messing with the vehicle's gaskets, the trunk is the next best place. Avoid installing this anywhere in the vehicle. It's okay if it's a GPS antenna and there's still a clear vertical view of the sky, but sat radio signals are just too week and the glass interfere too much.

An antenna at Best Buy retails for about $30. So if you can find it cheaper elsewhere, go for it. I'd advise against any used antennas. Again, the wire is very easy to damage. Try to find one with the little rubber feet on the bottom. This will help keep the antenna from scratching the crap out of your paint. Newer antennas have this. Older ones do not. They come in all shapes and sizes depending on when it was made. Electronically, they're all the same. With that being said, an XM antenna will work in place of a Sirius antenna and vice versa.

Here is a photo of where my old antenna was installed. I will be installing the replacement in the same place. Be sure to clean the area thoroughly with alcohol. If you bought one new, it should come with an alcohol pad. Otherwise, denatured alcohol and a clean cloth will work just as well.

Here's where I removed the old antenna. You can see the damage from the older antenna scratched up the paint. The dirt and residue removed easily with alcohol

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Here's what comes with the antenna kit - antenna, alcohol wipe, and a stick-able rubber conduit.

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Easy way to untangle your antenna wire. Remove the twist tie. Stick it to the metal of your garage door. Then start untangling.

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Rough fitting on the car to make sure it's centered. Don't stick the rubber piece on yet! Be sure to leave a couple millimeters of extra wire so it doesn't tug on the wire slightly to one side when you start running it. It's ugly and not professional. Small detail, but small details make the difference. What you end up doing is if you run the wire to the passenger side, that extra few millimeters will make a loop to the driver side as basically a small strain relief (all this is under the rubber rain molding).

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The reason for the rubber conduit is to extend the antenna further onto the vehicle. This is because the antennas don't work very well at an angle. If you're installing this on the trunk, you can chuck it. If this is being installed on a car with a low angle, you can chuck it too. Most trucks need it and sometimes we'd put two in series since the slope would be so aggressive.

This is a Bojo. They come in a variety of shapes. Most of mine was lost or broken during my time of working there, so this is the only one I have left. It's a plastic tool car electronic/audio installers use to run wire, pry, etc. It won't scratch your paint or interior trim. If you do not have one, you can use any hard piece of plastic that serves the same purpose. A tooth pick could even work in a pinch. Just DON'T use a metal flat head!

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Use your tool to life up on the rubber trim and stuff your wire down in.

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Rather than running the tool against the wire all the way down, the wire is stiff enough to just push and roll it's way to the edge of the car.

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This part can get a little tricky. Doesn't have to be perfect as long as it's all underneath. I made another loop so there would be less strain on the wire and avoid weird tugs on the wire.

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Run it along the next channel to the bottom.

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The alternative is to place it on the trunk here. Be sure to center it. In a lot of cases, it's easier to run it along the trunk because you can hide it under the trunk trim (Subaru's didn't have any on my year). Then you follow the trunk wiring along the hinge.

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If you're installing this on an SUV, be sure to make sure it won't interfere with your roof rack! In cases like these, we'll install it on the front of the roof. On trucks, top of the cap and have it enter from the 3rd brake light.

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Last edited by Vew; 05-22-2011 at 01:05 PM.
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post #2 of 4 Old 05-21-2011, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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If you ran it on the trunk, you would run your wire with the wire shown on the hinge. Just zip tie it in several places along with the bunch. IMPORTANT! If you do it this way, follow the wires all the way to the side of the vehicle. If you branch off too early, you don't leave enough slack when the trunk closes. This will tug on the wire and damage it. This is the number one newbie install mistake I would say. If you leave enough slack without following the bunch, it gets all tangled up and in the way when the trunk is open.

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A shot of the wire along the molding. I need to get it to the other side of the trim.

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Just swing it underneath the edge.

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Should come out just fine.

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Lift up on the gasket. It will go under here.

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You MUST cut a notch using a dremel tool or something else. Then use a file to remove any sharp edges. This way the wire has a place to go and doesn't cause the gasket to lift up and water to leak into your trunk. You also need something like puddy to seal it up.

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I don't have any puddy, but I do have liquid gasket I used when I changed my differential fluid. You can get this at advance for cheaper. Toyota calls it FIPG (form in place gasket).

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Just peal back the trim and zip tie to the rest of the wire. You can see where it enters to car. Other vehicles you will typically go behind the trunk liner and under the seats. Just make sure it doesn't interfere with fold down operation. On SUVs, you would follow the plastic trim along the roof. On trucks similar, but your basically hiding the wire within the ceiling liner.

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I ran the wire and started to tug from the other side. (my seats were already removed from uninstalling the old antenna) I hit a snag. Don't just keep pulling. This is what typically will happen. If you try to straighten it out by pulling you'll snap the wiring inside. Unkink it and keep going.

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post #3 of 4 Old 05-21-2011, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Here you can see where I zip tied the wire in place. Trim off the excess from the zip tie.

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A better shot of the notch I made.

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Once the wire is completely ran in the trunk and pulled into the back seat area, check for proper trunk operation. Watch the wire as you close it to make sure the trunk doesn't tug on it when it closes.

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Bad photo of the wire coming into the back seat. Most cars you'll run it under the seat. This was easiest at the time. Most vehicle seats you can just give a quick tug to lift up one side. Subarus have 2 bolts on the bottom. 12mm socket will take care of it.

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Ran down to the seating area by the back door. Just run it so it's out of the way and not over top of anything.

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Shot of the back seat bolts. There are 4. 12mm socket also. Deep well or use an extension. You don't have to take out the back seat portion, but you want it lifted off the back enough so you can run the wire.

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Run it under the trim.

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Follow to the front of the car. This is where the Bojo is handy to stuff the wire under all the interior trim.

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Most vehicles you'd run it behind the dog cover and up under the dash with zip ties. I don't know why I picked under the ECU plate. You don't have to do it this way.

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Shots of the plastic plugs that unscrew to hold the carpet in place. The door sill just lifts up. But the dog leg portion has a plug.

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post #4 of 4 Old 05-21-2011, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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Final shot of the footwell area.

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After you get it under the dash at the center, you have to have the radio out already. Basically just some extreme arm flex/hug style on the thing and try to pass the wire to yourself. Almost all vehicles have gaps that allow you to do this. Really stubborn ones you may have to attach it to a straightened coat hanger.

You can stick the rubber thingy that came with it once it's run in the trunk and time after that. You just want to wait in case you mess up and need to adjust.

Pretty much it. Good luck. Post in the non-performance section of the forums if you need help or questions.

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