Car Radio Crazy

by Don Elliott on August 13, 2012

There, I’ve said it—car radio. I know it is a dated phrase but I don’t know what else to call that thing on the dashboard of my car that, on a good day, plays the music that soothes my soul.

When the radio in my ‘older’ car quit, Chuck, the auto repair  tech at my favorite car repair shop looked at me like I was crazy. “You know that nobody really fixes these any more, don’t you?” Unless your car is still under the original factory warranty, it is probably considerably cheaper to replace the “radio” with an aftermarket audio system.

Be prepared to be surprised when the time comes to choose a new radio, though.

The device that used to fit into the small space above the center console is a now computer that receives satellite signals, syncs with your phone and iPod, shows you what is behind you and tells you where to go. The faceplate flops down to play multiple CDs or to hold an iPod. A video screen might slide out to provide touch screen controls or play a movie.

The familiar knobs of yesteryear are now laser lights and digital display. Amplifiers and subwoofers supplement the sound capacity of your cars original audio system. An amazing array of options are available from a basic sound system for just $59 to enhancements that can run hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Big box retailers like Frye’s and Best Buy provide a long list of choices in-store and on their websites. Most stores offer same day installation, assuming all of the wiring harnesses and trim pieces are in stock. In any case, installation is relatively fast and not expensive. Specialty car audio shops provide a slightly more expensive option, but with the benefit of more experienced help choosing the right equipment to match your needs.

The aftermarket audio business is supported mostly by younger buyers who may know more about their tunes than they do about the car that carts them around. For many, used car value  means a good sound system. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the in-dash receivers that do much more than the OEM radio that is being replaced.

Consider iPod and iPhone docks as part of the new style of sound generation inside of your car. Without docks, Bluetooth enables the integration of your phone through the audio system to the speakers in your car, turning off the music when a call comes in, enabling hands-free communication.

Car manufacturers are already signaling the demise of the radio and compact disc, replaced soon by personal communication devices can be carried from car to car with your own personal listening preferences on hand at the push of a touch screen!

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