Want a CD changer in your car that you can control with your factory radio and your steering wheel radio controls?  This article is for you.  I've been working on this project on and off since I got my car.  I have been told by my dealer, an aftermarket radio installer and an online GM parts person that my only option was a FM modulated changer.  Well, that was just not true.

This is what I got from Radios and More.  I highly recommend this company.  For $360, I got the 12 disk changer, cartridge, harness, and brackets.  They have a 30-day return policy and to top it off, they will ship your order to you next day air, no charge, if your order is over $100.  I placed my order at 8:00 am Hawaii time and received it at 11:00 am the next day.  I have NEVER received anything that quickly.
The first thing to do is disconnect the negative terminal of the battery.  Then locate the CD Changer connector.  It can be found in the trunk on the passenger's side under the trunk liner.  See the see the How-To page on the CD Changer & Sunroof connectors if you want more info.
When you pull back the top of the trunk liner, you will see the connector.  Carefully remove the tape that holds the end of the CD changer harness to the lighting harness.  Try not to put too much stress on the harness when you do this.
Here is the changer harness after it has been pulled out.    If you do not have the harness in your car, you will need to install the harness that is provided with the kit.  If you want to retain OnStar, you will have to remove a few pins out of the old connector and insert them into the new one.  Radios and More can help you with this.
The harness in the trunk is only partially connected to the system.  To complete it, you need to put two connectors together.  It is behind the right close out panel beneath the glove compartment.  See the How-To article on the aux power connector for instructions on how to gain access to this area.
The connector is hidden behind the carpet.  Connector 1 leads to the CD changer plug in the trunk.  Connector 2 leads to the radio.  Carefully remove the tape holding the connectors to the harness and plug them together.
On both sides of the changer are keyholes that you set to reflect the orientation of the changer after it is installed.  Make sure it is set to H (Horizontal).  That is usually the factory default.
Install the brackets onto the changer with the provided screws.  These look like universal brackets and Radios and More had already modified them so that the mounting holes on the changer matched up with holes in the brackets.  They even marked them right and left.
Here is what it looks like with both brackets installed.
To make installation a little easier, make a template.  Place the changer upsidedown on a piece of cardboard and trace around the brackets and the mounting holes.  I used a manilla folder.  Trim the template a bit to make it managable.  Don't forget to mark which way is the front of the changer.
Ok, now you can stick the template to the bottom of the package shelf and move it around.  Beats trying to hold the changer with the brackets mounted to it in place AND mark drill holes.  I can't give you an exact position.  There is no flat area to mount the changer.  What I ended up doing is positioning the changer so that I could hang it from four points, even though these points were at different hights.  You will see what I mean later.  Keep in mind that you don't have to use the pre-drilled holes in the brackets.  I redrilled some of the holes in the bracket so it would match up to the location I wanted the bolt to be.
  1. Don't forget that the the harness will still have to reach the changer.  After you think you have a good position, connect the harness to the changer and see if it will fit where you want it to.
  2. Watch out where you drill the holes.  Check what is behind the area you want to drill the hole.  A great mounting point ended up being the gutter around the trunk opening.
The existing holes in the brackets fit a 1/4" bolt.  Luckily I had some on hand.  While the template will help you, it's not perfect.  What I recommend is drill one hole, bolt the changer up, then mark the next hole to drill.  Remove the changer, drill that hole, bolt the changer to the two holes, mark the next hole, and so on.
After you get all the holes drilled, you can use shims or washers to level the unit.  I had mentioned in the step above that the mounting points were at different levels.  This is how I corrected for it.  The arrow points to five washers that I used to level the unit right to left.  My torpedo level has a magnet on one side and that feature has helped me with more projects than I care to remember.
Then I leveled it from front to back.  You can even see the bubble in this photo.  I only mounted the changer from three points.  The fourth point required a longer bolt than what I had on hand.  Actually, the three are pretty solid so I may just leave it at that.
This is what the final installation looks like.  Later on I will change out the bolts for shorter ones so they don't stick out as far.  Now plug the harness into the changer (it reaches, right?).  Check all your electrical connections then re-attach the battery.  When you open the door, the white light under the opening should come on.  Load up some CDs into the cartridge, load it into the changer, and close the door.
Turn on your car and turn on the radio.  You should see a symbol that looks like a stack of 4 CDs flashing (see arrow).  Press the CD button on your radio.  If you have a CD equipped head unit, you may have to press the button twice.  You may see the message "LOADING" or you will see something that looks like this photo.  D1 T1 means disk 1, track 1.  If you have steering wheel controls, the SEEK button changes tracks and the PRESET button changes disks.

Actually, I tested the CD changer before I mounted it.  I wanted to make sure it worked before drilling holes all over the place.

There are other options.  Crutchfield sells a 6 disk CD changer (USA SPEC SCD-G190) they say will work in 1997-2001 GM products and is compatible with OnStar.  You could also get a FM modulated CD changer.  This will work for those people who's head unit cannot control a CD changer.  I believe the radio only unit is the only one that cannot.

This was a project that was a long time in the making.  I would like to thank Charles who purchased a CD changer one week before I did, let me know how his install was going, and actually motivated me to get moving.  Also a big Mahalo (thanks) to Bill and Ron at Radios and More (see the Accessories page for the link).  We have traded a lot of e-mail and Bill has been VERY helpful.  Their prices are the best I found and I am amazed how quickly I got my package.  Hey Bill, bet you thought I would never get around to this project.

Here are a couple of questions I have received about the CD changer:

Q:  Is it really that easy?

A:  Yes it is.  If you have the harness preinstalled in your car, just put together the two connectors in the passenger compartment, plug in the changer, and you are good to go.  The most difficult part of this project is getting up the nerve to drill holes into your car.  =)

Q:  What if you want to play the tape and/or CD in the head unit?

A:  The CD button on the head unit is a selector switch.  As you press it, the system cycles from tape, single CD, CD changer and back to tape.  If you don't have a feature (ie don't have a tape player in your head unit) or don't have media inserted (ie no CD in head unit) then it cycles between whatever is left.  The system also remembers the last device that was used.  For instance, if you were listening to disk 3, track 4, 1 minute into the song then switch to FM radio, if you press the CD button, the system will switch back to the changer, disk 3, track 4, right where you left off.

Q:  Does OnStar still work?
A:  Yes and no.  If you have the factory installed changer harness, then the answer is yes.  If you have to install the harness that Radios and More (or another aftermarket harness), OnStar will NOT work.  However, it is possible to modify the aftermarket harness to restore OnStar operation.  You just have to move one connector from the factory harness to the aftermarket one.  This is something Radios and More can help you with.  Which is another reason to buy from them.

 Samual installed a CD changer into his Impala which did not have the factory CD changer harness already installed.  The following is his explanation on how to install the aftermarket harness and how to maintain OnStar: