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Sound Advice: How to Buy a Car Stereo System

Monday, December 12, 2011
Photo courtesy of Flickr
The stereo system that came with your vehicle when you purchased it is probably fine for most people but what if you're an audiophile. The sound quality of factory installed car stereos tends to be inferior for those with a discerning ear but you can look for the features you want elsewhere.

• Figure out the features that matter to you

What exactly are you looking for in a car stereo system? If you're looking for superior sound quality, speakers and sub woofers are the features that you will be focusing on.

You may also be looking for extra features for sound input, music availability and convenience of music selection. Some examples of these types of features include:

- Blue tooth capability
- Auxiliary input for MP3 player
- Satellite radio
- Voice recognition for music selection
- GPS display

• Replacement vs. Upgrading

You don't necessarily need to completely replace your sound system just because you want more features or better sound quality. Depending on the make, model and year of your car, you could just buy various add-on devices that will give you the stereo system you want without tearing out your current system and installing a new one. Older vehicles generally are not compatible with this option, however, and a complete stereo replacement would be necessary. If you're not sure if your car stereo could be upgraded rather than replaced, contact a car stereo installer to discuss your options.

• Set a budget before you start shopping

Keeping within your budget is easier if you set one before you start shopping. That way, if you realize that, the features you want don't fall within your budget; you will be able to modify what you want accordingly. Depending on where you purchase your stereo system or equipment installation may be included. To be safe, include the estimated price of installation in your budget. If you purchase from a store with included installation you can upgrade your purchase.

• Find someone to install your new system

If you are purchasing your car stereo system from a retailer that does not offer installation services at all you will need to find someone to install the system for a fee. Start by asking friends and family if they know anyone that can do the job, and move on to company listings online. To assure that you are hiring a trustworthy installer, consult the Better Business Bureau website for more information about the company.