You can easily fix a budget for your car stereo, and start shopping for equipment/components that fit into it. But how much should you actually pay? Where do you start, and where do you draw the line?
When do you know that spending a certain amount of money on a certain component is necessary, and when is it just a luxury?
For instance, say you need new speakers for your car. Now, you can spend a huge load of money and get as many speakers as you like, turning your car into a hi-fi home theatre.
Or, you can just get an amplifier if a defined power and bass are all you’re seeking. The key is not to spend more than you need but spend it wisely so that you get the most out of your installation.
Here I’ll try to give you a breakdown of just how much does it cost to install a car stereo, and the factors that impact the cost. So, hop in!
First Things First
To install a stereo in your car, the first thing that you need to decide is, whether you are going to do it yourself or get someone professional to set it up for you.
If adding a stereo or CD player is all you need to do, then that’s rocket science. You can just get it done yourself.
However, if you are seeking to do something a bit more advanced that requires the entire system to be overhauled, then you better take the help of a professional. They’ll obviously charge you for it.
Make your decision first, then we can proceed with the next steps of installing a stereo in your car.
What Are the Things That You Need?
If you’ve settled for the self-installation process, then the first things that you need are tools! You seriously thought I was going to name a list of expensive components right away, didn’t you? Hold on, we’ll get there. Since we are starting from scratch, let’s make a list of all the tools you’ll be needing first.
Your Nifty Ol’ Screwdriver
A good screwdriver never goes out of use. Every house has got one, and everyone knows how to use one. You can get a Philips head screwdriver to start off, or you can start with a flat-headed one lying around the house. The one with a magnet tip will cost you around $10-20, depending on the brand.
A Suitable Adapter
To get your CD player to work with your car, you need to get an adapter. An adapter will help you to fasten the CD player securely and snug inside your car. It takes your car’s design into consideration. In the case of an adapter, the pricing is a bit tricky. It varies from car to car.
Typically, it’s around $10 or less. Pro-tip: Throw in a bunch of strippers and wire cutters too into your cart while shopping for an adapter. They’d help you perform the essential wire splicing.
At the very end of your car stereo installation, you’ll need some scotch tape to cover the open wires. However, you can use any kind of tape that is electricity resistant. It’ll help you to connect wires with each other and cover the open wires like a wire seal.
You can also use an actual wire seal and then use a blow torch to tighten the seal. I personally don’t prefer working with fire when it comes to handling electronic or electrical equipment. The tape and the wire seal will cost you around $5 altogether.
How Long Does It Take?
This is relevant because time is loosely translated as money. You won’t be spending an entire day working on installing a car stereo by yourself when you can just get it done by a professional for a couple of hundred bucks if you have an important business meeting scheduled worth much more than that on that very day. So, time is crucial.
Well, no fixed amount of time is required to properly install a stereo in your car. It varies depending on the car and the job. A simple installation should not take more than an hour to complete. But in most cases, car radios take a few hours of work.
Even if you’re hiring a professional, it’d take them 2-3 hours to get the job done, and they’ll charge accordingly. However, if the task requires additional work, it might take an extra couple of hours, and they’ll charge you for the extra labor.
By now, you’ve got an estimate of how much time and money it costs for the additional equipment of a car stereo installation. Let’s talk business. Here we’ll try to make a breakdown of the costs of each component that are necessary to create a fully equipped car sound system.
The main component of a car stereo that goes inside the dashboard is called the receiver and it works as a hub for all the buttons and knobs as well as the display that gives you information about the current state of the sound system.
The price of a standard CD player without an LCD touchscreen and minimal features will cost you around $25 to install. But if you want to get a receiver that’s big and sturdy with a lot of extra features, it can cost up to $100.
If you decide to install a car stereo with an amplifier, you might have to extend the budget a bit. Although they are easy to install amplifiers do cost a good chunk of money and getting one might mean you’d have to add an additional $10-$30 on your total budget. The cost might go even higher if you get a large amp with tons of features.
If you already have aftermarket speakers pre-installed in your car, but you want to get something a bit fancier, you better try replacing them. In that case, you’ll need to install new speakers along with the radio, and as a result, the total cost of installation will go higher.
On top of that, if the speakers size are not ideal for your car, they’ll surely need some modifications, making it a total of an added $50 altogether.
Finally, you’ll need to decide if you want to keep the old wiring system of your car or if you want to install a new one with the radio. The second option is highly recommended. This way, each stereo requires its own kind of wiring that is unlikely to match that of any other.
A decent wire harness itself will cost you around $10. Installing it will cost you an additional $20 or so.
The term DIN is an acronym of the German phrase Deutsches Institut für Normung This term refers to a specific set of standards. These are used for measuring the designs of vehicles around the world.
This standard unit is widely accepted by car manufacturers and car stereo designers all over the globe. This makes it easier for third-party stereo manufacturers and refurbishes to create audio systems that live up to the standards of your vehicle as seamlessly as aftermarket ones do.
There are two types of DIN stereos. Single DIN and double DIN. The basic difference between the two can be guessed from their names. A standard DIN unit should not cost you more than $100 (generally, a decent one will cost you around $25-$50, but we’re keeping a margin here just in case).
On the other hand, if you get a double DIN, the cost might go a bit higher. For example, up to $200. The installation process is pretty simple and will cost you only around below $50.
Cost Of Getting It Installed by A Professional
Most servicing shops, and even car or electronic shops usually call for a somewhat hefty price for stereo installations. Well, when I said ‘hefty’, I did not necessarily mean hugely expensive.
The service charge ranges between $50-$200, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done, and the complexity of it. If it’s a really complex audio system, the charge may even go as high as $500, but that’s a rare case.
The good side of a professional installation is that they know exactly what needs to be done in what amount and where. A professional will always hand you a premium quality installation that lasts a long time.
Some Final Words
Car stereo installation is only the first step to get started with upgrading your car’s audio system.
Once you get it installed, you’ll keep upgrading it and adding new components to it as you go. So, you better start off well because that’d lead you to better destinations. Hope this article helps you to get an idea about how much to spend when installing car audio.