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Car Radio Installation Cost & Tips: How Much to Install Car Radio in 2020

Want to know a car radio installation cost? Here, we’ll tell you how much to install car radio and how the cost can change depending on your needs.

We know how hard it is to set up a car radio when you have little to no idea how anything works. In that case, you’re likely to look for an installation service instead and see whether they can help you.

But there’s a problem – these installation services can be awfully expensive. So you’ll have to consider every option available and see which one works better for you.

Below, you’ll find every single bit of info about car radio installation costs and a little more. Take a look!

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Car Radio?

While the price may vary depending on many factors, such as the cost of the equipment, size, features, and brand, it may also change depending on where you take it.

Some car shops and electronic stores will be extremely cheap, while others will be thoroughly expensive.

Typically, though, the cost ranges from $25 to $100. If you install the radio manually, the price may go below $25.

How Do I Know If My Car Stereo Is Single Or Double DIN?

It’s easy – one is larger than the other.

For example, a single-DIN radio is 2 inches high by 8 inches long. It is the smaller of the two and the most popular in small cars.

Then you’ll find the double-DIN. This one is 4 inches high but also 8 inches long. That means you get twice the high of a single-DIN model.

A double-DIN radio usually comes with a large LCD touchscreen, so it is more common in SUVs and large vehicles.

General Facts of Car Radio Installation Cost You Should Know 

To give you a better idea of what you may need to calculate to get the final cost of your installation, we are going to explain several factors that may affect how much you’ll end up paying. Here’s what we mean:

Cost of Installing the Equipment

Different pieces of equipment can add extra dollars to the value of the setup. For example:

01. Receiver

The receiver is the piece that goes into the dashboard. A standard CD player without an LCD touchscreen and not many extras may cost about $25 to install.

But if the receiver is large and sturdy with tons of extra features, it may go up to $100.

02. Amplifier

If you’re installing a car radio with an amplifier, then you may see how the price goes up a little.

Amplifiers, while easy to install, may require an extra effort that could translate into $10 to $30 more on the cost of the installation.

If it is a large amplifier to install in a small car, then this price may go even higher.

03. Speakers

Let’s say your car comes from factory speakers, but you want something richer and better-sounding.

In that case, you’ll have to replace them. But if you need to install them anew with the radio, then the cost of installation will obviously go higher.

If the speakers are not the ideal size of the car and demand modifications, then you’re likely to see over $50 or more to the cost of the installation.

04. Wire Harness

Lastly, you’ll want to consider if you wish to leave the old wire system (not recommended) or install a new one with the upcoming radio.

Sure enough, the second is always the way to go. That’s why you’re likely to spend over $20 more to install this wire harness. The piece costs about $10.

In some cases, the installation can be pretty tricky and time-consuming, depending on the size and complexity of the vehicle. This could increase the price up for $50 more dollars.

Single DIN Cost

A standard single-DIN radio receiver may not cost more than $100 (usually between $25 and $50 for a decent model).

Sure enough, the installation is generally straightforward and may go below the $50 mark.

Double DIN Cost

Because double-DIN radios are larger and have many more features than a single-DIN radio – a quality model is likely to cost over $200. A cheap one may cost between $50 and $100.

The installation, though, depends heavily on which features it has (steering controls, backup camera, etc.), which can get the cost to $25 to $200.

Cost of Installing the Radio Professionally

Service, electronic, and car shops will have a somewhat hefty price for installing radios.

While they’re not necessarily hugely expensive, you may see prices ranging from $50 to $200 depending on the complexity of the piece. The most complex radio systems may be over $500 to install.

The advantage is that professional installers know exactly what to do and will leave a pristine and long-lasting installation.

Cost of DIY Radio Installation

How much does it cost to install a radio by yourself? Well, we can say it’s pretty cheap.

You may only need to spend money on the necessary hardware (screws and wires), and that’s it. So you see the DIY radio cost between $10 and $30.

But be aware that doing this yourself may be more expensive in the long run. If you aren’t experienced in radio installation and how they work, you may end up making mistakes that cause costly damage.

3 Best Car Radio Receivers For Beginners

Now that you have a better idea of the different factors to consider, let’s dive in into some of the highest-quality radios you can install on your car:

01.  BOSS Audio Systems 625UAB

 

 

The first model comes from a quality brand: Boss. The 625UAB single-DIN stereo receiver is an affordable yet highly reliable model for people who need a decent product.

It has several features to consider:

  • Ability to play any type of media from MP3 to AM and FM radio stations
  • High-quality Bluetooth so you can play and control your music (including hands-free operation)
  • Extra inputs like AUX and USB for exceptional connectivity (also accepts SD cards through a port)
  • A next-level EQ system so you can adjust the sound to your needs
  • Decent sound quality at 50 watts for 4 speakers at once

All of that is available for a pretty meager cost. And sure enough, the radio is designed to last – so you won’t have to worry about anything.

02.  Pioneer AVH-1300NEX

 

 

In case you want a more powerful and practical radio in your car, the Pioneer AVH-1300NEX will not let you down.

This single-DIN radio comes with amazing features to take your car experience to another level:

  • Large 6.2-inch VGA touchscreen where you can operate the whole system with your finger
  • An easy-to-operate design with CD/DVD port plus straightforward controls on the left
  • An exceptional array of practical features such as calendar, contacts, maps, Spotify, Pandora, etc.
  • Complete compatibility with any kind of media through Bluetooth
  • Next-level sound with 50 watts of total power (perfect for surround audio systems)

If you’re in search of a quality radio receiver for your car with a screen – then the AVH-1300NEX from Pioneer will be your best bet.

03.  Kenwood KDCX304 eXcelon

 

 

If there’s a brand you shouldn’t overlook when it comes to radio receivers, then Kenwood is probably high up there among the best.

The KDCX304 eXcelon model is a perfect example of why. Here are some of its features to think about:

  • Practical Bluetooth connects with 5 devices at once (plays music, hands-free calling, and more)
  • Boasts a digital graphic EQ and Digital Time Alignment 13-Band system (next-level audio mixing)
  • Easy-to-use design with controls on the front, a multiple-color LED display and CD receiver
  • Excellent audio source options including USB and AUX, SiriusXM, and FLAC compatibility
  • Boasts an Alexa built-in compatibility and an Android rapid-charge system

You won’t believe this is a single-DIN radio when using it. Despite its slightly high price for the size, it is totally worth your money for how well it works.

Common Errors Regarding Car Radio Installation (+Solution)

Even though the installation of a car radio is a straightforward endeavor, there’s still a high chance you will face a few issues later on. Here are some of these issues you may face:

01. Has No Power

So you installed the radio, and it looks like everything is in place. But the moment you push the power button, the receiver doesn’t start.

Not a light, no sound, not even a click sound from inside the radio – the machine seems dead.

Well, it is likely not broken or damaged. What you’re probably suffering from is a car radio that is improperly installed to the point that it has no power to work from.

There are various reasons for this to happen:

  • The power coming from the alternator is too high, so the amplifier goes into protection mode (it won’t start at all).
  • The battery is not providing enough power, or it is inconsistent, so the radio won’t turn on.
  • The wiring is damaged or not connected properly (which causes power issues and prevents the radio from starting).

Solution

What’s the solution to these problems? Easy – you try to find the source and fix it accordingly.

Here’s how:

  1. Start by checking the 12V wire coming from the electrical system. Use a voltmeter and make sure it is providing the ideal power for the machine to start. If the cable is not sending the 12V current, then you must check that it is connected (or replace it if it is broken or damaged).
  2. In case the cable is sending the proper current, then the problem is likely on the battery and the alternator. You may have a deeper electrical problem in your car. Sometimes, car batteries need to be refilled or charged to work consistently.

These two steps should be enough to find the problem and fix it as necessary.

2.  Makes No Sound

In some cases, the radio turns on as it would normally do, but at the moment you try playing something, it simply doesn’t. The radio is trying to play the music, but nothing goes out of the speakers.

Another common issue is when the car starts and plays music for a few minutes, but then the sound shuts off out of nowhere.

There are many reasons for this to happen. Here are the most common:

  • There’s a wiring problem between the radio and the speakers (no audio signal reaches the speakers).
  • The power is not enough to turn on the receiver (radio) and the speakers (tweeters, subwoofers, etc.) at the same time.
  • There’s a loose cable around which causes surges in volume (bass and high notes), so the radio doesn’t play the sound.

Solution

If you think your problem related to any of these, then you may want to take a more in-depth look into it. Here’s how you can fix it:

  1. Start by checking the fuse of the system. Use a multimeter to check whether it has constant power (put it in impedance/Ohm levels). It should give some numbers off. Otherwise, it is blown and needs to be replaced.
  2. If the fuse is working, then go directly into the wiring system. Check everything up, you may need to uninstall the system, get the wires out, and check them thoroughly. Also, be sure the grounding is proper or else the sound won’t ever reach the speakers.
  3. Finally, check the specifications of the radio receiver and then check whether the battery and electric system of your car is sending sufficient current for it. If the vehicle is not sending enough current, then that’s likely the problem. You may have a deeper electrical issue to fix.

Take this problem into account after and while installing to prevent anything later on.

3.  Radio Gets Hot

The final problem, and the less common of the three, is when the radio receiver gets hot. This problem is hard to spot, but it eventually becomes apparent when you spot any of these symptoms:

  • It feels warm when you touch any of the controls or screen (sometimes before turning it on).
  • The radio turns off by itself to protect internal parts when it overheats.
  • A mild or strong smell of burning starts to fill up the car.

Solution

If you spot any of these problems in your car, while less likely than previous issues, it is way more important to fix them rapidly.

Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Check the whole radio installation. Even the slightest wiring issue may be causing the radio to overheat (e.g., a loose cable).
  2. Too much dirt and dust inside the machine may also clog it. This usually happens when you haven’t cleaned the car in a while. You can fix it by cleaning it up and rechecking the wires.
  3. Lastly, it may be that the car is sending too much current into the radio. This happens due to battery or alternator problems. We recommend taking it to a mechanic if you think this is the case.

While it is pretty uncommon, it is still possible and the worst problem you can face with a bad installation. So make sure to fix any overheating problem before it’s too late.

Safety Precautions to Install Car Radio

Setting up a radio on a car is not necessarily a problematic endeavor. But because you will be working with electrical parts and fragile components, it is vital to take proper safety precautions. Here are some of them to consider:

  • Always turn off the vehicle when working on it. There’s no need to turn it on until you’ve already installed the radio.
  • Wear gloves if possible. Work gloves can save you from shorts and other electrical problems that are possible when working inside the car.
  • Be careful when using power tools like drivers, drills, or soldering irons. Use them with care and read the instructions before using them.

If you follow these safety precautions, then installing the radio on your car will be totally safe.

Dos & Don’ts of Installing Car Radio Receiver

After reading general safety precautions, you may want to learn the things you must do and the things you mustn’t when setting up the radio. Here are some of them:

Do’s

  • Plan everything before starting. Check for wire entrances, speaker ports, where to connect and install things, etc. This will help you save time, effort, and prevent issues while installing.
  • Stay away from mechanical parts and wiring from the vehicle (air conditioner, lights, buttons, etc.) to prevent anything from failing later on.
  • Use tools like screwdrivers, wire cutters, and pliers instead of your hands when setting up the radio. Tools are more effective and safe.
  • Tidy everything up. From the wires to the radio, amplifiers, speakers, and more – keep them well-located, organized, and neat to prevent issues later on.

Don’ts

  • Don’t start working on your car without first having an idea of how its electrical system works. Also, don’t forget to read the instructions manual of the radio as well.
  • Don’t leave loose or badly attached wires hanging. These can be pretty dangerous (cause shorts, overheating, and other similar issues).
  • Don’t damage the car’s components unless absolutely necessary. You may need to install something else later, which may not fit because you changed something.
  • Don’t work with the electrical system unless your tools, hands, and interior of the car are completely dry.

FAQ’s About Installing Car Radio Receiver

Even after reading our complete guide, you probably still have a few doubts. The next questions may help you get rid of them:

Will a universal car radio fit in my car?

Yes, as long as the universal radio fits with your dashboard settings (single DIN or double DIN entrance), there’s a high chance it will fit. They’re designed to fit most cars without problems.

How much does Best Buy charge to install a car stereo?

Best Buy offers a free-of-charge installation service for any stereo receiver you buy directly from the store.

How long does it take to install a car radio?

A professional may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour and a half to install car radio. If you’re an inexperienced installer, this may easily take you over 2 hours.

Does Best Buy do free radio installation?

Yes, they do it as long as you buy the radio from the store directly, and it matches a minimum price range. Most of the time, the installation cost goes north of $99.

Will Best Buy install a radio I buy elsewhere?

It depends on the specific rules on the Best Buy you go to. Some locations will install the radio even if the installation kit and the receiver are not from Best Buy. But other locations won’t.

Verdict

As you can see, the car radio installation cost may vary exponentially, depending on how you want it.

So next time someone asks you how much to install car radio? You already know the answer.

And sure enough, you won’t have to ask anyone else either.

It’s now time to decide whether you want to do the installation yourself or hire someone else to do it for you. What are you choosing?

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