5 months 21 hours

5 months 21 hours. That is how long it takes to install a new stereo head unit in a 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Pioneer Edition. I may not take you that long, but that’s how much time I have invested in it.


About 5 years ago, my Sport Trac was parked for nearly 6 months with only a very occassional drive. At that time, I was taking 21 credit hours and working full time. So, I mostly drove one of the little beaters we had for gas mileage. (1992 Toyota Corolla, 1987 VW Jetta, 1992 Saturn) When I started driving it again, little things started breaking–the rear window, rear door handles and of course the radio. The radio started with the annoyance that the display would work randomly–and NEVER when you need to change the radio station. Then, the display NEVER came on followed by the tape deck breaking and eventually the CD stopping. So, for the last 3 years, I’ve driven around with just the radio, but 6 months ago, the radio started randomly forgetting stations.

5 months 21 hours

This is where the 5 months 21 hours comes into play. In June, I was at the local pawn shop browsing when I saw a very nice Pioneer head unit that does all I want–bluetooth, aux port, hands free etc. Since the factory installed unit was pioneer I thought it would be a great replacement. When I brought it home I slid out the factory head unit and the ordeal began. The factory wiring harness had nearly 20 wires coming out of it whereas the new one had about 12 maybe?

So, I started searching the net for wiring diagrams. And searching. And searching. In the end, I have probably downloaded 20 different wiring diagrams and NOT ONE matches what comes out of my truck. (In 2002, Ford released the 3rd package in the 2nd model year of the Explorer Sport Trac. Ford labeled this package the Pioneer edition and came with F150 offroad rims, new colors such as Zinc Yellow, and a premium 485 pioneer sound system. Ford only offered the Pioneer Edition in 2002–the next year they wrapped it into the Adrenaline Edition)


Finally, I started putting feelers out for help installing this radio and my buddy Donte Bravo answers! (That’s not his real name, just a nickname of his) I went to Bravo garage twice for a total of 15 frustration-filled hours. I now have a “new” radio installed but have learned a few things along the way:

  • Nothing about the Ford premium sound system is standard.
  • Don’t EVER buy a new radio–TRADE THE VEHICLE!! (not really, but that’s how frustrating this is)
  • Have the RIGHT friends!
  • Don’t EVER ( mean EVER) buy a “special” package on a car if you plan on keeping it until it is 20 years old or put a million miles on it–you’ll PAY!