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· Registered
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I inherited my wife's Highlander (yeah, SHE got the new car) and I just couldn't stand the sound of the stock speakers. I replaced the head unit (which was very simple thanks to a leading online car stereo merchant's instructions and support) and although it improved sound, I still wasn't satisfied. The head unit I got was the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X897 if you are curious.

Purpose of this post: I looked all over the internet but couldn't find anything clear and simple (for an installation noob like myself) on how to replace the component speakers. So armed with as much knowledge as I could gather on the internet, I decided to make this post and hopefully help you guys and gals out with your own speaker installations. Please keep in mind I am no professional, so please, if you want to comment or critique this post do so! Let's make it so the next person attempting this is better armed with good info!

Gear before I began:
  • Polk Audio DB6501 6.5-Inch 2-Way Component System
  • Scosche SAT6 Speaker Adapter for 2000-Up Toyota Echo/Avalon (caution, see below)
  • Metra 72-8104 Speaker Connector for Select Toyota Vehicles (caution, see below)
  • Stiff putty knife
  • Panel removal tool(s)
  • Electrical tape (I didn't solder my connections because I don't own a soldering device!)
  • Screwdrivers, big and small
  • Jigsaw, drill, 3/4" MDF (see below)

Roll down your front windows, then tape down your putty knives to avoid scratching the plastic interior.

First I removed the door handle cup. Using the putty knife I pushed the door pull handle cup forward and pried upward lightly. It should come out with a little effort.

Here you can see the clips. You must push in on the groove to release the clip.

I then moved onto the door release handle. I used some precision screwdrivers to pop open the screw cover.

Then I pried up on the trim cover, above the lock lever and also below the door handle to release the tabs.

There is a screw beneath the door cup and the handle cup. Remove both and set aside.

I didn't have the right sized panel tool to remove this pin, so I used two precision screwdrivers and pried it out pretty easily.

I used a panel removal tool to remove the "sail."

Now it was time to pry open the doors. I looked carefully at first looking for all the retaining clips. I tried to be as close to them as possible when opening the door to avoid breaking them.

There's a clip.

Here is a picture (of the driver's side door) and where the clips are located.

Once I got about four the rest came up pretty easily and I opened the door apart. Some wires were still connected, so go and disconnect those with one hand and hold the door with another (or have someone help you - I was alone). The passenger side has three wires to disconnect, the drivers has two. You don't have a lot of slack. Just take your time. They all have a release button.

Ok, so here is the audio setup. That woofer is one big piece.

Note the connection to the speaker is on the outside of the speaker


I removed the woofer revealing this:

This is where things got interesting. First, there was nothing I could do to make those Scosche SAT6 Speaker Adapters work. The holes did NOT line up with the Highlander holes. They ended up being a total waste of money. Do not buy these! I also realized that the Metra 72-8104 Speaker Connectors would not work for this application as well, so they were also a waste of money! Oh well, I didn't spend a lot on them. Time for some woodworking! Because the stock speakers protruded so much, I got some 3/4" MDF and decided to make my own brackets. I was going to use thinner MDF (that I had on hand) but I was afraid they would either sit too far back from the door or possibly hit the window mechanism.
Here is how I made the brackets. First I used a piece of paper to get an idea of how much space I needed.

I then used that paper and made a cutting/drilling template.

I then sketched it out on my wood, grabbed my jigsaw (thin blade used) and began to cut. Wear safety glasses!

I installed the Polk supplied baffle against the wood and used the Polk bracket as well. I was trying to keep the woofer as close to the factory speaker grill as I could.

I'm not sure about this next step, but I was afraid of rattle after the install. I bought some insulation tape and mounted it to the back of the wooded bracket. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Comments?

Okay, mounted the woofer bracket. As you can see, the stock woofer connector is on the outside, while my speakers connections are in the back. Don't need that anymore. Cut it off.

I began to cut away the factory electrical tape so I can find the correct signal wires.
Remember, on the Highlander:
  • Left Front Positive: Pink
  • Left Front Negative: Violet
  • Right Front Positive: Light Green
  • Right Front Negative: Blue

When I got to the tweeter I cut away the woofer wires and discarded them. I also unplugged the wiring harness from the stock tweeter.

Removing the tweeter was easy; just a single screw and a metal clip.

Back of the tweeter.

I figured I'd use the stock tweeter mount so I removed the tweeter.

I then removed the bracket by pressing down on the little clip and pulling.

I then attached my Polk tweeter to the bracket with some screws I had in the garage.

There, starting to come together. I put the door panel temporary on to make sure everything would fit. This is important! Mine fit fine, so now it was time to wire everything.

I took the speaker output from the door and the tweeter wire and wired them along this exisintg path behind the weather shield. I then ran them down to the far edge of the door. I planned on putting my crossovers in my door pockets so I can adjust them as needed. The woofers I ran behind the metal and securely taped them down as to not interfere with the power windows. I also fed this behind the weather shield meeting up at the same spot as all the other wires.

You can see where all my wires ended up here (note: driver's side door)

I then grabbed my door and drilled a small, probably 1/4" hole through the door leading to the pocket. You can see it near the bottom left above one of the white door clips.

I them carefully reattached the wiring, fed my speaker wires through the hole I drilled and put everything back. I then attached the crossover to all the proper wires. Beer time!

RESULTS: The highs are unbelievable now. They sound so good. They are powered simply by the head unit (22 watts RMS). The bass from the door is not as pronounced (the stock speakers I felt were sloppy and bassy in a bad way), and many across the internet complain of a "lack of bass" after installing after market door speakers. I have a 12" sub in the back of my HL so it more than makes up for the loss of the middle-lower end. All I can say is the sound is so much "cleaner." I faded the front speakers a tad more than center. Well good luck !

· Resident Nutcase
12,072 Posts
Awesome post, stickied!

So you don't have any issues with the polks distorting early at high volume due to low power? I know those polks can take a fair amount of wattage.
How was your depth behind the speaker magnet and the window? Any idea in terms of inches (for future reference for other people). I used 3/4" MDF too when I made speaker brackets for mine as well

· Registered
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So far the Polk's sound great - even at high volumes. I punched up the bass and lowered the sub gain and it really sounds well rounded now. As far as the depth - I never took an accurate measurement. You do have some play there, especially if you install the woofer as far from the metal frame as you could (without it bumping the door panel). Now the question is - do I bother replacing the rear speakers with some coaxials?

· Toyota-Lexus Fanatic
95 Camry LE
720 Posts
Just what I needed. Thank you very much! This is similar to what I did with my SC. I used an MDF board and tossed out the plastic housing.

· Registered
255 Posts
Great post!

I think when I tried to put my pioneer 3 ways out of my old Integra into my 06, I found that the connection to the woofer relied on a connection to the tweeter,. I took the tweeter out as my speakers were 3 ways and they didn't work until I put the tweeter back in.

I ended up taking the pioneers out because I couldn't get them close enough to the cut out in the door and it muffled the sound too much. When I get my baby back I will be upgrading the speakers and will confirm it then.

· Registered
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I wanted access to the crossovers (for possible treble adjustments) so I placed them in the door cubby. That's why I drilled a small 1/2" hole in my cubby near the bottom of the original post. Good luck!


· Registered
2,134 Posts
Nice install and DIY with beautiful clear pictures! I love my Polks because they sound great and have a similar efficiency as the stock speakers so they don't require an amp.

Unfortunately MDF is very water sensitive and the door will get wet (thats why the plastic sheet is there) I'd make the effort to seal the MDF with some polyurethane before putting it in or expect it to disintegrate eventually. I'm in the rainy Pacific NW so maybe MDF will be AOK in SoCal/Arizona etc.

I'd make the spacer out of polyethylene or ABS (both available at TAP Plastics or Mcmaster Carr). These plastics require some slower speeds on the saw and router (to avoid melting) but generally work like wood.

LOL those tweeters are similar to the ones in my old Camry Wagon's rear pillars with a single crossover capacitor. The 1.5uF cap means they are crossed over at 13kHz (if its 8 ohms) and not doing very much. The Camry tweeters were 4 Ohms crossed over at 18kHz!

· Registered
2 Posts
I'm doing this same speaker install, but I have different color wires going to the tweeter and having trouble following your steps.

Right now, I have the inputs from the woofer connected to the new crossover, and from there the new woofer and tweeter connected. The problem is, the speakers only work when the old tweeter is also plugged into the stock tweeter wiring harness. Does this mean that the inputs into the new crossover need to be used from 2 of the 4 tweeter wires? It seems like this is the power source to everything. How do I know which two wires to use, and what are the other two for (the built in crossover?)?

· Moderator
2014 Highlander LE
8,463 Posts
Nice install and DIY with beautiful clear pictures! I love my Polks because they sound great and have a similar efficiency as the stock speakers so they don't require an amp.....!
Yes, that makes a difference.
I have a pair of older DSt1720C which are 88dB. I'm wondering if I should put them in the 2002 HL without an amp. Its a chunk difference from 91 or 92dB.
(I may as well)

· Registered
1,689 Posts
My system sounds "decent" enough. Plain system no amp but woofer in right front door is rattling and needs replacing. I have a Pioneer head unit driving them. I was happy with the amount of bass but apparently the stock speaker(s) can't handle the higher output of the amp on the Pioneer.
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