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We Upgrade Our F-150’s Audio Once Again with Pioneer Electronics and Optima Battery

Project TOTYl Resurrection: Part Nine- 1997 Ford F-150

Aug 25, 2020

If you've been following along, you know we're well into phase 2.0 of building our 1997 Ford F-150, dubbed Project TOTYl Resurrection because of its history as a former Motor Trend Truck Of The Year winner, back up to not-quite-a-classic-but-a-cool-driver-status. We started off with an interior update from TMI, followed by custom Dub IR glass tint and some ExoShield windshield protect at Daley Visual.

This second stint in truck rehab began as a result of our trusty parts hauler being broken into in the company parking lot. Besides a handful of parts for other projects, the only major thing that disappeared was the old Pioneer head unit. Back when we began this project the first time around, we installed a complete, affordable system from Pioneer that included the four factory sized replacement speakers, two 400-watt mini amps, and a 10-inch subwoofer/enclosure combo. Luckily, all of the latter was well hidden and we still have it!

Photo 2/20   |   The Pioneer AVH-2550NEX head unit is actually a multimedia DVD receiver with a 6.8-inch display and features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, built-in Bluetooth, iDatalink, Maestro and is SiriusXM-ready. The interface is responsive and highly customizable. It also has built-in HD radio, Pandora, and Spotify. For those of us that are still interested in the sounds themselves, there is a 50w x4, a 13-band customizable equalizer, crossover network, three RCA preouts and subwoofer control.

We contacted Pioneer because we were so happy with the original head unit, and also because we were hoping to get lucky with the wiring connectors being identical. They weren't, but it was still an easy install using the AVH-2550NEX head unit, which came with all the bells and whistles as you will see below. Since the truck had a dead battery at the time of the break-in, we also contacted Optima for a fresh Yellow Top battery as well as their premium battery charger, to ensure we never let the truck sit around with a dead battery again!

Check Out the Rest of this 1997 Ford F-150!
How to Tune Up a 1997 Ford F-150 with Summit Racing, Accel, Lucas Oil, and a K&N Air Intake System
Installing Ceramic Coated headers, Cat Back Exhaust, and Custom Tune on a F-150 5.4L
Installing a Fabtech Lift, Pro Comp Wheels & Tires on our F-150

Follow along as the AP Sounds & Customs crew installs the Pioneer Head Unit and Optima battery in less than an hour, and check out the websites in the source box for more information on getting a better functioning head unit or fresh battery for your truck. Finally, check back for all the past and future build installments of Project TOTYl Resurrection right here!

Photo 3/20   |   We had some courteous thieves, at least. They got the head unit out without destroying the dash. They also unplugged the wires instead of ripping them out.
Photo 4/20   |   The crew at AP Sounds & Customs jumped right in with a new adapter kit from off the shelf and prepped it to splice into the Pioneer Harness.
Photo 5/20   |   Then they began to make the connections one by one. You can also see here that the auxiliary USB port was cut, but that's not a big deal.
Photo 6/20   |   At this point our new harness was all buttoned up and ready to go.
Photo 7/20   |   We fed the new USB line through the dash.
Photo 8/20   |   Running the line out through the glove box makes it easy to stow away when it's not in use.
Photo 9/20   |   We also connected the new amplifier turn-on wire. By the way, the Pioneer 400w amps are so small that there's two hidden in the dash under that access panel. Luckily the thieves never found them.
Photo 10/20   |   For these F-150s, the install kit consists of these two side plates, which are simply screwed down in place.
Photo 11/20   |   Now the Harness as well as the RCA cables could be plugged in to the back of the Pioneer unit.
Photo 12/20   |   The USB and the antenna cables were next.
Photo 13/20   |   Finally, we were ready to slide the head unit into place.
Photo 14/20   |   The last part of the installation kit was this tiny bezel that simply snapped into place.
Photo 15/20   |   We then snapped the factory bezel back into place and we were looking as good as new!
Photo 16/20   |   The Pioneer AVH-2550NEX was fired up and ready to program.
Photo 17/20   |   We went through the setup screens one by one, but overall this is a very simple procedure.
Photo 18/20   |   Within a few minutes, we had the Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay set up, and the audio settings all dialed in. We were ready to rock!
Photo 19/20   |   Since we started with a dead battery, we chose the durable Optima Yellow Top battery so we would never have to leave our faithful parts hauler dead in the parking lot again. We cleaned the surrounding areas and had it installed in minutes.
Photo 20/20   |   The Optima Chargers Digital 1200 Battery Charger enhances the performance of 12V AGM and flooded Optima batteries as well as other high-performance AGM batteries. It also recovers deeply discharged batteries and helps extend battery life. We knew we needed it before and now we will always have it nearby. With the seats, carpet, glass, and audio back up to par, we have now completed the interior portion of Project TOTYl Resurrection. We will soon be revisiting the suspension of the truck, so check back soon!


AP Sounds & Customs
Pioneer Electronics
Long Beach, CA