|

Car stereo upgrades

Upgrading your current car’s audio system

Published: January 2011

If you're ready for better sound or more features but not ready to buy a new car, you can upgrade part or all of your car's audio system. A new head unit, for example, can provide the latest features and more versatility, such as receiving satellite radio or HD Radio signals, adding an in-dash CD changer, or integrating a portable music player, navigation system, or DVD video. A more powerful amplifier can deliver not just more volume but clearer sound. New speakers are another way to improve sound without necessarily spending a lot of money.

Replacement components and speakers designed to fit in factory openings are readily available for most cars, and some can be relatively easy upgrades. More extensive upgrades can be quite involved and are best left for a professional installer. A great deal of information is available online, in forums and on the web sites of mail-order stores like Crutchfield and SonicElectronix.com, which cater to do-it-yourselfers. These stores offer a wide variety of components, and some have staffers who can offer assistance through a toll-free call, live chat, or e-mail. Some, like Crutchfield, include adapter kits for different models to ease installation and enable you to plug the new unit into your car's wiring harness. But it's best to do some research to determine if the job is within your ability. Even if you buy through mail-order, you can always have the components installed by a professional.

   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

MATTRESS REVIEWS
Insomnia and the truth about sleeping pillsVideo Find out what’s safe and what isn’t, and learn how to get a good night’s sleep.
NEW CAR REVIEWS
Should you buy an extended warranty for your car?Video In our survey, most who bought one didn’t used it for repairs.
LAPTOP REVIEWS
Tech talk: Why you should wait to buy a new laptop Intel's new chip just came out, but an even better update is coming soon.
MATTRESS REVIEWS
Big-box bonanza: 12 ways to save even more at Costco Our savvy team shows you how to spot the bargains at the warehouse club.
2015 AUTOS SPOTLIGHT
The disappointing dozen: Cars that fail to measure up Sloppy handling and noisy engines are common among these poor performers.
GAS GRILL REVIEWS
10 great gas grills for $300 or less, and where to find them Find deals on models that performed better than grills that cost over $1,000.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more