How long do you think a car stereo lasts? It certainly is not a lifetime.
External and internal issues destroy a car’s sound system bit by bit. But you can stop it from taking over and extend the life of your car stereo. I am sure you realize that this won’t happen on its own, and you have to take some specific steps.
But what are they? How can you make sure your car stereo lasts longer? And what can you do if it’s too late? Why don’t we start with the first part? Shall we?
How Does a Car Stereo Work?
The first thing that comes into focus in a car stereo is the diaphragm. It is also known as the cone. This diaphragm moves back and forth in the soundbox. The purpose of such movement is to push the air to create an audible noise.
What moves this cone? The voice coils. The voice coils. The voice coil is the part of the car stereo that gives the diaphragm its motion. Dust cap protects this voice coil from dirt and foreign bodies. Thanks to this dust cap, your car stereo doesn’t get damaged every time something hits it.
Another prominent part of a car stereo is the suspension or the spider (why spider!). It supports the voice coil to move freely in its place.
The next part is the woofer. Everyone knows what a woofer is. It is the part of the speaker that produces low-frequency sounds. In contrast to the woofer, the tweeter produces high-frequency sound.
Apart from these, there are no other essential components in a car sound system you have to know about. So, if your car stereo is on the brink of its lifetime, you can conclude that these parts are damaged. And fixing these parts will save you from trouble.
How Long Should Car Stereos Last?
In general, car stereos last around 5 to 7 years. But this duration greatly depends on how you are handling the device. If you leave the car stereo on its own, it may not serve you for more than 3 to 4 years. Putting too much strain on the device and improper maintenance can decrease its durability.
On the other hand, proper care will keep your stereo in good condition for more than 10 years. Do you want this durability? You have to do some work.
Apart from these, the answer lies in the brand you use as well. Turns out the brand matters a lot. Cheap brands will surely not last decades, while top-end car stereos, such as Kenwood, have the potential of being the only sound system you will ever need in your car.
What Car Stereo Brand Lasts the Longest?
Sorry to disappoint you. No car stereo will last forever. In fact, they won’t survive the first 3 years if you don’t take proper care. However, if you make some smart choices here and take on a few basic maintenance, you can get the ultimate sound system for your car.
We often overlook a truth: “There is nothing in the brand. It’s just a name.” I don’t agree with it at all. For me, a brand is widely accepted only when it can provide a satisfying product.
For example, Sony stereos are unbeatable in the market. They have been in the game for ages with undivided popularity. Don’t you think there is a reason behind it? Yes, you got it right. Sony delivers what you want. Its robust build will sustain everything you put it through.
Surprisingly, Sony does this without compromising its performance.
Similarly, Kenwood USA produces fantastic devices for cars. I can trust them with my eyes closed because they are solely dedicated to manufacturing car accessories. The sound system is included in their device list. Their stereos are compact yet strong.
Tons of power are jammed in their tiny subwoofers. The build material of these speakers never fails to exceed expectations. The exceptionally sturdy structure of these stereos is sure to last decades.
Apart from these, you can go for Pioneer car stereos. But I would not recommend them because while they are marvelous when it comes to durability (with 3 years warranty! Yes, 3 years!), the price is a bit unreasonable. I just think it could’ve been a bit cheaper, like JVC car stereos.
Overall, keeping a car stereo working year after year is something that entirely depends on you. Yes, you might get some benefits if your car stereo belongs to any of these models. But you can boost the longevity of such devices with proper knowledge and adequate skills. What are they? I will show you everything bit by bit.
Reasons Why a Car Stereo Fails so often
It’s probably not your fault that your car stereo has stopped working.
The internal mechanism of cars can go through unusual situations, resulting in speaker blowout. It is almost impossible to know why your car stereo is likely to fail. However, once the sound system has already collapsed, you can identify the reason behind it in a snap.
The two most common causes of car stereo failure are overheating and damaged internal components. By overheating, I mean thermal failure. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. But how does a speaker overheat? The sound doesn’t generate heat energy!
Well, this heat comes from what the speaker uses as its fuel, electricity. When the stereo system receives too much power (trust me, this happens more frequently than you think), it just can’t process it all.
This power is just a bunch of electrons. When these electrons can’t go through, they collide with each other at one single point. This collision, in turn, generates heat.
With time, this heat becomes an inferno in the speaker. Inferno? Am I exaggerating? No. This heat can literally melt the wiring in the voice coil. As a result, a blowout can happen.
Similarly, due to excessive heat, the stereo fuse can also blow out, causing the stereo to shut down instantly. But this overheating doesn’t happen overnight. If your vehicle’s power supply system is faulty, it will keep damaging the car stereo system day by day.
And just like overheating, your vehicle can have mechanical failures as well. What do I mean? Let me clarify. If you carelessly handle your car stereo, it will get damaged by small degrees without you even knowing it. A simple torn or stretched cone can be a significant mechanical failure.
Almost none of the components in-car stereo has elasticity. Hence, if they experience the slightest pressure, it can get heavily affected. This, too won’t happen in a day. It can be something you are doing unintentionally, or you may not know how to manage stereo the way you are supposed to.
Either way, your delicate car stereo can stop working just like this. I mean, it won’t last very long.
These issues have a lot to do with the durability of your car speaker. Overheating can destroy your car radio, generate unwanted sounds from it, and it can even eliminate bass from your speaker once and for all. But there are still rays of hope waiting for you.
If you can tackle these points properly… your car stereo will outlast its expected lifespan.
7 Tips To Make Your Car Stereo Last Longer
As you already know, car stereos last around 5 years. During this period, they work pretty great even if you don’t give them much attention. However, once this period is over, you are in for a lot of trouble. The frequent maintenance fees and purchasing new parts will tear an invisible hole in your pocket.
I am sure anyone with a sane mind won’t prefer spending hundreds of bucks on car stereos every month. Guess what? You don’t have to if you are willing to handle 8 easy (and free) maintenance.
How am I sure these methods will work? Well, I practice these tricks on my car stereo and guess what, it will be a half-adult next month. In case you want to know my secrets, here are the 7 care tips to keep a car stereo healthy.
Tips 1: Ensure Proper Installation
Did you set up your speaker in the proper way? You may not know the answer to this unless you have taken professional help to install the stereo or you are a professional yourself. If none of these two points applies to you, you need to be careful right now.
Loose-fitting of speakers can have all kinds of damage. The movements of the car, the vibration, and the displacement of parts will result in further harm.
This is why it is recommended to seek professional help. They will install your stereo, its components, and the plugs accurately. Moreover, you won’t have to worry about the wiring as well. Overall, it saves you tons of hassles.
Tips 2: Always Clean Your CDs Before Inserting
Who uses CDs these days! Well, lots of people. DVDs are actually quite common nowadays when it comes to car stereos. Unfortunately, these CDs can damage your vehicle’s sound system. Sounds weird? In reality, it isn’t.
Imagine inserting a scratched or a dirty CD into the stereo. I don’t need to tell you what is going to happen next. The dirt will jam the internal components first, and then the scratches will damage your CD reader. Just so you know, clogged CD slots can result in overheating.
So, as you can see, a dirty CD has the potential of inviting a plethora of issues. Hence, what can you do now? Simple, just wipe the CDs clean and dry before putting them in the system.
Just in case you have been using CDs without cleaning them for a long time, then don’t worry, you are not at the point of no return. Just apply this type of CD cleaner on your CD and make them squeaky clean. This way your stereo will have a long life, and your CDs will last as well.
Tips 3: Deal with The Foam
One of the essential parts of car speakers is the foam ring. You probably already know what the speaker’s cone is. It mainly delivers music to your ear. How does it do it? It pushes the air forward and backward to create sound waves. Unfortunately, this part is very delicate.
To protect this sensitive structure, a foam ring surrounds it. Thanks to this, a speaker can generate crisp and soothing sounds.
These foams are not fragile like the cone. Generally, they last around 10 to 15 years. They don’t even cost much. You can get a decent set of speaker foam from Amazon at less than $50.
But replacing the speaker foam is a tough row to hoe. Moreover, no matter what foam you use, no matter how precisely you install the foam, it will never be as good as the original one. So, taking care of the speaker foam is undoubtedly worth it.
But how do you do that?
You can start by not smoking near your car stereo. Smoke is a big reason why speaker foams die quickly. Not just that, microbial attack, UV damage, and moisture damage can ruin the foam ring. Individually dealing with these issues can be a pain in the neck.
What do I do? I use this edge sealer on the foam. This protects the foam ring from all harmful components, increasing the device’s longevity. Applying it to the foam is a breeze. Just take the solution on the brush, and rub it on the foam. This simple method will increase your foam’s durability by 50%.
Tips 4: Maintain A Cool Environment
Just like you, me, and any machine on this planet, heat is another name of irritation. Car stereos also fall into the list of victims. As you have already seen how overheating can destroy the sound system, the importance of maintaining a cool environment doesn’t need elaboration.
Thankfully, it’s quite easy to ensure. Let me walk you through what you should do.
Keep your car AC turned on when you are using the stereo. In case your AC is broken, try keeping the speaker’s bass down. Creating such an environment will increase the device’s health.
However, the stereo can get too much hot even when it’s turned off. It solely depends on your parking position. If you park near any warm object (e.g., a hot engine) or in the direct sunlight, you may not find your car stereo in a sound condition when you return.
To sum it up, make sure to maintain an overall cool ambiance around your car sound system, and it shall serve you for years and years.
Tips 5: Cleaning Is the Key
How often do you clean your car speaker? For a majority of the people, the answer is ‘never’. Don’t be a part of this group. I have seen good speakers having problems functioning just because of the gunk and debris trapped inside. Trust me, you don’t want this happening to you.
Now, you’ve probably already guessed what I am about to suggest! Clean the speakers regularly!!!
Just wiping the stereo system’s accessible parts at least once a week is enough. But you have to perform heavy cleaning once a year. Don’t freak out. Heavy cleaning is not what it sounds like.
It’s simple. Take a screwdriver. Open the front panel of the stereo. Wipe all the visible dust, debris, and gunk with a soft brush. You can use a vacuum or canned air to conclude the cleaning process. And with that, you are done. Put the front panel back on, and you are good to go for another year.
I have noticed that this practice improves sound production a lot as well. This is a plus point along with extended durability.
Tips 6: Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on The Stereo
There is a reason I mentioned overheating at the very beginning of the previous part. Sending excessive power to your stereo can ruin the whole device within months, let alone 5 years. Why does this happen?
Well, you do it unknowingly. But don’t blame yourself. Trust me, everyone, even I had this problem when I didn’t know anything about a car stereo.
But now that I have gained enough experience with speakers, I have found out specific reasons behind car stereo overheating. Surprisingly, it greatly depends on the sound production of the system.
Let me clarify.
When you listen to loud music for a long period, the speaker components such as the tweeter and the woofers can’t handle the burst of power quite well.
As a result, too much power leads to overheating. Now I hope you still remember what can happen after this. You certainly don’t want your stereo to melt!
So, what is the solution to this problem? Do you stop listening to loud music? Obviously no! You are here so that you can listen to your favorite songs just the way you like them. We are not going to ruin it for you.
What can you do then?
Let me tell you a little fact. On average, an American spends about an hour in their car. Those who like listening to music in cars do so for around 30 to 45 minutes. But this is not the problem. The issue here is that most people tend to never turn off their car stereo.
I have even seen many people just lowering the volume instead of shutting it off (sigh). When you are keeping your car stereo turned on for longer than you need, you are actually putting too much stress on it. As a result, the sound system is attracting too much power, eventually drawing unwanted heat.
So just turn off the stereo whenever you leave the car. Listen to deafening thrash metal, or sing along with Iron Maiden if you want, but never forget to put your car sound system to sleep when you are not around. It’s nothing hard to do, right?!
Tips 7: Show Your Stereo Affection
Without care and affection, everything is bound to die out. Yes, this is true for machines as well. You have to be careful while using your car stereo. Otherwise, rough handling can lead to sure mechanical failure of the speaker. The voice coil can get misaligned, or the cone can have a drag.
Here, the endless possibilities of damages can lead to something irreparable.
This is why it is recommended to treat the stereo with care. Don’t put anything heavy on it, and be careful around it with any kind of liquid. The slightest hit from a tough object can cause hundred-dollar damage.
This may not sound like much of a big deal, but in truth, it is. So be aware of what you are doing with your car stereo and always stay attentive.
In case you need to know the condition of the sound system, you can always check it by simply turning the volume and the treble all the way down, and setting the bass to the maximum.
You will get a bassy noise from this. If this noise sounds fabricated to you, then possibly your stereos are already damaged. But it’s not too late. You can always replace your car stereos.
The good news is, you can do it all by yourself, saving the money you would’ve otherwise spent after a professional. But how does car stereo replacement work? You will find out in the next part.
How To Replace the Existing Car Stereos?
If you are still reading, I am guessing you care about your car stereos, and you want to make sure they stay in the best condition. But what if the damages are done, and you want to start afresh?
You have to replace the existing car stereos. No, you have no reason to freak out. The process is easy as pie, and the way I do it can get your job done in a jiffy.
However, if you want to avoid the trouble, you can always take help from a professional. They will get everything in their place at around $100. But hey, why waste the extra money when you can easily replace your existing car stereos for free?
I begin by removing the car stereo. If you were paying attention, you already know how I clean the car stereo! Let me remind you in case you have forgotten.
I take off the front panel. Here you will have to do the same. What I do is I take a screwdriver, and I use it to loosen up all the screws holding the radio and the stereo in its place.
Once all the screws are loose, I slide the stereo out. A common mistake most people commit is not paying attention to the wiring. But this is a vital part. To make sure the wiring doesn’t get in my way, I detach every connection before putting away the old and broken car stereo.
Now comes the new stereo in the picture. The new sound system deserves a beautiful home. So I clean the slot where the stereo goes. A hand-held vacuum is very convenient for this purpose.
When everything is clean, I connect the new sound system to all the wirings I detached earlier. In case you are wondering, I use regular duct tape to secure the connection between the wires.
And now (with the wiring done), I slide the new stereo back in its place. If you can follow these steps with precision, you are certain to have a new sound system installed in your car with zero hassle.
Taking care of car stereos is a responsibility, but not a difficult one. You now know everything about it. But I understand that you can still have some questions. I realized I couldn’t add certain essential parts to the article, so I created this FAQ section. Here you are likely to find the important information you were looking for.
How Do You Know Your Car Radio Is Failing?
There are common symptoms that can tell you beforehand that your car stereo is on the brink of failing. The most apparent of these signs is the constant shut-off of the sound system. In addition to this, mild distortion of sound and rattling noise also foretells the car radio’s condition.
What Type of Cable Is Ideal for Car Radio?
The wires have a significant role in overheating the car stereo. Electricity flows like a water stream. This is why you need a cable that doesn’t have unnecessary resistance, a cable that is durable and doesn’t disturb the movements of electrons.
You can get this type of electrical flow with patch cables. They are heavy-duty, strong, and ensure the perfect transportation of power and electricity. Their heat-resistant element prevents overheating to a certain degree.
How Long Can I Run My Car’s Stereo on Battery?
From my experience, I would say you can get 10 hours from your car’s stereo before the battery drains out. But there are a few conditions involved.
First of all, this is only true in the case of a 12V battery with a capacity of 600Wh. I didn’t use lights, fans, or AC with this battery. Only the stereo was running along with my car. If you meet these criteria, you too are likely to get around 10 hours of playtime from your vehicle’s sound system.
My Last Two Pennies on The Matter
No matter how expensive or how cheap your car stereos are, they deserve your attention and care. You are here because you want to give them what they owe you.
By now, you should be properly aware of what you are supposed to do with those speakers. If you are still stressed about it then I would recommend you give the article another read. Here I have put down everything I know about car stereos in the simplest word.
Still, it can be a lot. So don’t hesitate to take your time with it.