Why Do Car Stereos Have Removable Faceplates?

Why Do Car Stereos Have Removable Faceplates

According to an FBI report, car stereo theft significantly decreased between 1994 to 2009. What could’ve happened? Did people stop using car stereos?

In fact, the number of car stereo users has increased every year since late 1980. What boosted this number? The assurance that car stereos are safe in the car!

Yes, you’ve read that right.

I know people who used to be in constant fear of losing their precious car stereo to the stinky hands of thieves. But they are relieved now. What’s more interesting is, you now can enjoy this benefit if… your car has removable faceplates! I am not kidding.

Car stereos have removable faceplates to deter theft. How does it work? Do you really need a faceplate in your car stereo? What can you do if your faceplate gets lost?

Too many questions busting in your head? Settle here. In this article, I will clear out every confusion you have. Let’s set the ball rolling, shall we?   


Why Is the Purpose of Removable Faceplates in Car Stereos?

Purpose of Removable Faceplates in Car Stereos

Let’s play a game. Think of yourself as a thief, and you want to steal a car. The car is obviously locked, and the key is also not in there. But you really want to get something out of this car. 

What will you do? You will grab everything that is visible and run away with it. This is exactly why thieves steal car stereos. This happens more frequently than you think.

American Mutual Insurance Alliance found out that around $40 million worth of car stereos were stolen every year. Yes, ‘were stolen’. The number is very low now, and the credit goes to removable faceplates.

Now let’s come to the main point. The faceplate is positioned directly in front of the stereo’s head unit. It works like a “face” for different dials and the whole stereo itself. 

Without this faceplate, the stereo head unit seems blank. Imagine a face without a nose, eyes, and a mouth. Would you be able to identify the face this way? This is exactly what happens with the faceplate (get it why it’s called ‘Faceplate! 

Nah, I’m kidding. It’s called faceplate because it stays on the front).

The head unit is not recognizable when the faceplate is removed from the stereo. A thief will try to grab anything that’s within his glance quickly. If the stereo is not visible to him, he/she won’t surely spend hours searching where the sound system is located! 

As a result, your car stereo will remain safe. This will, hopefully, deter would-be break-ins as well (unless the thief is really into the bobblehead you have on your car dashboard!). 

This simple innovation was first introduced in 1989 as a response to the increasing rate of car stereo theft that kept every car owner terrorized in the late 1960s. You can now leave your car without worrying about it, thanks to those victims!


Does Every Car Stereo Have Removable Faceplates?

Car Stereo without removable faceplate

Actually… no. Not all the car stereos out there come with removable faceplates. In fact, some car stereos don’t have a faceplate at all. In case you are wondering, these stereos can be controlled with a remote.

But how do you ensure their safety? Here’s the thing…you can’t. This type of stereo is right there and easy to steal. However, chances are your car doesn’t have such a problematic device. This is usually common with old car models that your grandpa probably used to drive.

Although I won’t be surprised if your modern car stereo doesn’t come with faceplates. I have seen a few vehicles, but the number is not significant.

Anyway, let’s address the elephant in the room. What do you do if you don’t have these things on your car stereo? You surely aren’t going to leave it there for the thieves to steal!

Take my suggestions. Replace your existing stereo with the one that has removable faceplates.

It should not cost you more than $200 unless you want the high-end product available out there. That can cost you an arm and a leg. Don’t go for that and stick with the one you can afford. They will not disappoint you.


Should You Remove the Faceplate from Your Car Stereo?

Does your car stereo support a removable faceplate? Then you are in luck. Imagine how it must feel to lose a $400 sound system just because you didn’t have a $70 faceplate!

Breaking into a car is very easy nowadays. The burglar discovers new ways of reaching the internal equipment of your vehicle. The worst thing is that you can’t stop them no matter what you do. Hence, the best thing here is to make sure they have nothing to steal.

To sum it all up, yes, you should remove the faceplate from your car stereo every time you leave your car unattended. Just don’t be rough with it while removing it. Otherwise, it will be rough with you by breaking into pieces. But what if it somehow does breaks?


What Can You Do If Your Removable Faceplate Gets Lost?

What to Do If Removable Faceplate Gets Lost

Let’s face it, ‘removable’ and ‘losable’ are almost synonymous. In my younger years, I used to be in so rush that I even lost two faceplates within a week!

I know you are not like me, and even if you are, it’s not a problem. Just do what I did every time my car stereo faceplates were lost, get a new stereo! (Just kidding!).

You can always get a new faceplate for your car radio. They are available on Amazon for less than $50. Or if you want a better one, you can also get that for a few extra bucks. But the price can mainly differ depending on the stereo model.

Another thing can vary as well, and that is the faceplate itself. Every car stereo is fit for a certain type of faceplate. Not all the speakers have the same head unit, so how will an incompatible faceplate fit! So yes, you have to make sure you are getting the right product.

How do you ensure that? By contacting your stereo company. It goes without saying that their faceplate will be better than other options.

However, car stereo manufacturers usually don’t make extra faceplates as faceplates are made to deter theft. The figure if anyone is likely to take the faceplate away, it’s you. What can you do then? Unfortunately, there is no universal faceplate for car stereo.

Hence, while looking for the faceplate, see if you can find the one tailor-made for your vehicle. If you are in confusion, ask an expert. Your car stereo company can help you with the details.

There’s another thing you can do is look for the faceplate in the second-hand market.

Your nearest garage is the most convenient option here. If you can’t find anything there, go on eBay. But be careful. Don’t end up buying broken or cracked faceplates. Not gonna lie, but the chances of this happening are not slim. This is why I am mentioning it at the end of my point.


How To Remove the Faceplate?

How To Remove the Faceplate

If you are new to cars, you may not know how to remove the faceplate, and it’s totally fine. I have good news for you though, removing and re-installing the faceplate is the easiest thing you can do with your car!

Firstly, know your stereo. Different types of stereos are shaped differently. Know how your stereo faceplate is sized and where they are.

Once you have located the faceplate, grab it by your fingers and lightly pull it while giving it a bit of jiggle. You will hear clicking sounds when they come off. Don’t be too harsh here because the springy clips that hold the faceplate tend to be very light.

Now when it comes to putting the faceplate back on, the process is even easier. Just set the faceplate on its position, and give it a little push. You will know that the faceplate is set by the satisfying clipping sound.

I know it’s hard to believe that this simple method deters thieves. But trust me, it works every time. 



In the scope of this article, I have tried to present tons of information and tips. Still, there were a few things I couldn’t fit in the context. But I think it’s important I address those issues.

Otherwise, I am not fulfilling my purpose. This is why I have created this section for you where I will be answering the most common questions I get regarding removable faceplates. Give it a read. This can be helpful for you!


Who Invented Removable Faceplate in Car Stereo?

In 1989, Pioneer designed car stereos that had removable faceplates.

At that time, car stereo theft was at its peak. This is why many other companies joined the attempt of making car stereos theftproof.

But only Pioneer managed to make a fully removable faceplate, which made it possible to make it appear as if there is no such equipment in the car at all. As this drastically dropped the stereo theft rate in the USA, the innovation widely spread within a matter of years.


What Are the Best Stereos with Removable Faceplate?

Since 1989, Pioneer [please insert manufacturer link here] has been unbeatable when it comes to car stereos with removable faceplates. The quality of these faceplates is unquestionable.

On the other hand, the user experience is remarkable. Sliding it in and out is as smooth as butter. What more is their compatibility. Well, you can’t really interchange many of these faceplates, but most of them have wide compatibility.  


How to Prevent Car Stereo Theft if A Removable Faceplate Is Not an Option?

Just because your car stereo isn’t compatible with a detachable faceplate, it doesn’t mean you are doomed. You can do plenty of things to discourage thieves from looting your car.

For example, tinted window film kinda works the same as removable faceplates.

As detached faceplates hide stereo from view, a tinted window doesn’t allow the thieves to see what’s inside the car. But you should use a car alarm with it as well because thieves can break the window glass anytime they want.


My Last Two Pennies on Removable Faceplates

Removable stereo faceplate is a smart invention. Who would’ve thought removing a thin device can save you from so many troubles! And those who know about it are truly blessed. They don’t have to worry their pants off every time they park their car in a sketchy place.

Fortunately, now you are among them. Just remember to remove your car stereo faceplate every time you step out of your vehicle and show those thieves a big L. 


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