Consider Different Options When Buying a Stereo System

Custom stereo system installed in a Prius
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Factory-installed entertainment systems offer good performance, but not good enough for some enthusiasts who want bigger speakers, better audio, and more bass, not to mention video, navigation and Bluetooth wireless capability. Buying a new car entertainment system usually means upgrading the factory installed car stereo system or starting over with new components. This guide will help determine the best choice, as well as help find the right components and locate car stereo installation dealers.

List the Features You Want

List the features and components you want in a car entertainment system. This list points out Important Car Stereo Features to consider.

Audio/video Performance features:

  • Speakers
  • Subwoofers
  • Crossovers
  • Amplifiers
  • DVD or CD Receiver
  • Video screen

Convenience features:

  • Bluetooth wireless for hands-free cell phone use
  • Remote Controls
  • Dual Zone operation
  • Navigation systems
  • Real-time traffic information via XM Satellite Radio
  • USB Port
  • HD/Satellite Radio

Safety features:

  • Rear view safety camera
  • Garage door and security gate operation

Decide on Upgrading or Replacing the Existing System

After considering the features you want, determine whether the system should be upgraded or replaced. Many car systems, especially those in newer vehicles can be upgraded with expansion components. The advantages of expansion components make it easy to add almost any feature or component to your car system while leaving the existing system. You may need to talk to an installing dealer to determine if your car stereo system can be upgraded or should be replaced.

Set a Budget

After determining the features you want, set a budget and make a list of components for the project. Don't forget the cost of installation. Many stores, such as Best Buy offer installation services, which are usually priced individually based on the job, so it's easy to include them in your budget.

Choose an Installer

Talk with friends to get recommendations, check your local phone book or do an online search for car stereo installation in your area. Visit at least three installation companies and get written quotes for parts and labor before making a decision. Compare prices, warranties and consider an extended warranty for expensive units. If the vehicle is new, consult with the manufacturer to find out if the installation or modification of the system will affect your vehicle warranty. Consult your local Better Business Bureau office to learn about any past or pending complaints against the company.