How to Build Your Own Custom Car Entertainment System

Car Entertainment Logistics

We've discussed a number of options for your car entertainment system. But how much of it do you really need, and how much should you spend?

If all you want to do is get better car sound and you're happy with the features of your factory radio, in most cases, a good set of speakers is all you need. Speakers will dramatically increase your audio quality and you can get a great set without having to spend a ton of money.


A new receiver is a good way to go if your radio is outdated -- if you have a tape deck, for example, and want to hear CDs or hook up your MP3 player. Lots of stereos boast fancy graphics and equalizer settings, but if they don't do much more than your current unit, are they really worth the money?

If you're alone in your car most of the time, maybe a DVD receiver and a bunch of TV screens mounted overhead and in the headrests isn't necessary. But there are plenty of moms and dads out there who say having a DVD player to entertain the kids on long trips is a great investment.

In addition, think about what type of audio you prefer in your car. If you mostly enjoy listening to talk radio or classical music, a huge, bass-thumping subwoofer might not be for you.

It's possible (but not very likely) that a well-installed stereo and speakers could add to your car's resale value, but only if the equipment is installed cleanly and correctly. No one wants to buy a car full of someone else's shoddy work.

Of course, technically, you don't "need" any of this equipment. But whether you want to just get better sound out of your existing car radio, navigate trips a little easier, or turn your car into a concert on wheels, there is plenty of equipment out there to get the job done -- that is, if you've got the cash.

If you'd like to read more about automotive electronics and other related topics, tune in to the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • "Car Audio Amplifiers." (Jan. 29, 2009)
  • Consumer Guide. "Car Amplifier Buying Guide." Aug. 20, 2007. (Jan. 29, 2009)
  • Crutchfield. "Component Speakers Installation Guide." (Jan. 29, 2009)
  • Devito, Dominic. "Introduction to GPS Navigation." Crutchfield. Jun 16, 2008. (Jan. 29, 2009)
  • eBay Guides. "Car Amplifiers Buying Guide." (Jan. 29, 2009)
  • Geek Squad. "Car Electronics Services." (Jan. 29, 2009)
  • Nail, Ken. "Car Amplifier Shopping Guide." Crutchfield. June 19, 2008. (Jan. 29, 2009)
  • UAW-Chrysler. "Chrysler Corp. takes customers for a spin." (Jan. 29, 2009)