My project for this year was to install a new Android head unit in my old 2003 Ford Focus. Now this car is 20 years old and only worth a few thousand dollars on a good day. The last thing I wanted to do is spend 1/2 the car’s value on a brand name head unit eg Sony, Alpine Kenwood, etc.
I have had good experiences with Chinese Android head units in my other cars so the task was to upgrade the sound system. But as you will see it wasn’t straightforward. The Ford Focus has an odd-sized double din radio. So a new facia plate is required.
So this post is about how to install the 2003 Ford Focus double din dash kit.
It is a good idea to disconnect the car battery to avoid any issues when replacing the stereo.
Table of Contents
- 1 Parts Needed
- 2 2003 Ford Focus head unit upgrade procedure
- 3 2003 Ford Focus radio wiring diagram
- 4 Android 12 car head units
- 5 Conclusion
- Ford Focus (Fiesta) Double din flash kit. (Make sure you get the LH or RH drive vehicle version)
- Australian Ford Focus Radio Dash Kit.
- Ford Focus Radio adapter wiring plugs.
- Car Antena adapter plug– Connector ISO to DIN Plug Connector
- Heat shrink, electrical tape, crimp links, soldering iron.
- Cheap Android Double din radio Atoto. 7-inch with a minimum of 2G ram.
- 2003 Ford Focus Stereo Wiring Diagram – In this article.
- 2003 Ford Stereo removal pins.
- 2 hours of your time.
2003 Ford Focus head unit upgrade procedure
Start by soldering or crimp linking your aftermarket stereo power and speaker plug leads to the adapter wiring plug. This makes it a quick plug-and-play job so you don’t need to cut into the car’s wiring harness.
I used solder joints and heat shrink to make the connection.
Removing the 2003 Ford Focus Stereo
The only way to remove the stereo from the Ford Focus is to use a set of removal pins. These are cheap and only cost a few dollars or you can make your own from a set of wire coat hangers.
Push the pins into the stereo holes on the front and push them both outwards hard. You will then be able to pull the whole stereo out.
Pull out the 3 plugs at the back by pushing in the release clip. The antenna can then be removed and the stereo disposed of.
One plug is for the speakers, the middle one is for the steering wheel controls, and the 3rd plug is the power.
Ford Focus Radio Facia Removal.
Now removing the radio facia is required to install an after-market head unit. This is due to the small size of the stock radio. You will need the UGAR 11-547 Car Dash Radio Installation Mounting Facia Kit Compatible with Ford Focus 1998-2004. Make sure to buy the RH or LH model for your vehicle depending if you live in America, Australia, or the UK.
This facia kit has 4 bolts holding it just inside the radio slot. Once these are out the whole facia and be prised out. There is one clip on the bottom and 2 clips on the top.
Once it is partially out the cables to the aircon, clock, hazard lights, and other aux cables can be disconnected. They all have a clip.
Once the cables are disconnected the facia can be removed and all of the fittings can be transferred over to the new double din facia plate. I found it easy to bolt in the Android stereo first and then add in the other aux parts.
Installing the new double din aftermarket radio.
Now this is the hard part. Depending on the 7-inch radio size you may need to hack away at some of the vehicle’s internal stock radio plastic on the sides and the bottom.
I used a sharp retractable blade to cut away some plastic to make my cheap Chinese Android radio fit. It was all trial and error.
You will soon know if it doesn’t fit as you won’t be able to push the double din fascia into the clips to hold it into place. I did this before adding in any cables as the new double din radio was constantly going in and out. Making it fit flush was the hardest part.
Wiring the new Android head unit.
Plug in the wiring harness for the speakers and power. Plug in any USB cables and pass them into the glove box. Plug in the antenna with the adapter. Don’t forget to plug in the reversing camera and GPS antenna if required. I mounted the GPS on top of a metal cross beam under the dash.
GPS signals can pass through glass and plastic but not metal.
My unit also had a plug for the wifi and Bluetooth antenna. If you don’t plug this cable in you will have very bad wireless signals in your vehicle.
Steering wheel controls.
Now my 2003 Ford Focus has non-Canbus steering wheel controls. This means I can use the Key1 wire from the Head Unit to wire into the steering wheel wires to the new head unit can be controlled. Once you go through the Android learning feature.
Now this will require some cutting and splicing as there is no plug for the controls. Look for the 2 or 4-wire plug. In my case, it was the white/black and brown/yellow wires. Cut these off.
Wire in the key1 to the brown/yellow wire and wire the white/black wire to the vehicle ground. Or splice it to the black wire which is negative/ground.
Leave the KEY2 wire not connected.
Now once the radio is turned on go into car settings and look for steering wheel control. Here you can program any button to whatever function you need. Eg volume up/down or channel change.
2003 Ford Focus radio wiring diagram
Android 12 car head units
Android 12 is the latest in car head units. But there are some very good Android 10 and 11 units out there. Make sure to get one with a minimum of 2GB of ram. This will make the head unit more responsive and faster.
I like the Atoto brand of head units.
The Atoto A6G2A7PF is the upgraded successor to the popular A6 Y & A6 Karlink, A6 PF has an ARM Cortex A55 8-Core processor and & 2G+32G of internal memory.
The 7-inch 1024×600 IPS screen with a 178° full-viewing angle will allow clear viewing even in broad daylight. There are 4x 45 RMS preamps that rock. It supports Key Mapping to SWC, Dual Zone Video Out, FM/AM Radio, BT Handsfree & Music, Backup Camera Input, USB Playback (reads max. 512 GB USB or 2TB SSD)
Wired and WIRELESS CarPlay/Android Auto are standard and work well.
Now my 2003 ford focus radio replacement was a fun project until I had to start slashing away at the internal to make it fit. It’s all hidden so it won’t matter how it looks.
Now my kids have a car that had GPS, Bluetooth, Handsfree, AM FM Radio, with all the Android apps or Apple car play features you could ever need. Just about any app that works on your phone will work on these Android car head units.
Stick with a brand name Chinese units like Atoto, Joying, Xtrons, or Pumpkin. These have regular firmware updates and are proven.
Some unbranded Android head units have fake hardware specifications like only 1G of ram installed and displaying 2G with a software hack. I like to run an application called Fake Device Test this will check the Android version is correct as well as the Ram and Storage size is not spoofed.
My Ford Focus 2003 is a great little run-around project car. Once I fixed the Focus engine vibrations and the erratic rough idle it as been flawless.
Let me know in the comments if you have any issues with this upgrade and I will try and help you out.
I am a qualified Industrial Electrician for the past 20 years and I love to share my knowledge on home repair and maintenance jobs.
I love fast toys like Motorcycles, Cars, Jetskis, Boats, and Computers so writing about them is easy. Working on them is fun.
To keeps costs down I do all my own mods, repairs, and servicing. These skills I want to share with everyone. DIY is a skill everyone can learn.