How to Install New Entertainment Electronics in Your Car

By: Christopher Lampton

Easy Car Electronic Upgrades

Electronic upgrades come in varying degrees of difficulty. Some are "so simple that even a child could do it," while others require a degree in advanced automotive electronics. So what's an example of a relatively easy installation?

The simplest installations actually involve no real installation at all. Some small devices, like satellite radio receivers and some radar detectors, simply need to be placed on top of the dashboard or affixed to the inside of the windshield. Usually these devices will come with some means of attaching them to the dashboard or windshield surface -- a suction cup, for instance, or an adhesive strip. Some in-car DVD players clip on a headrest or even a sun visor. Audio devices will also need to be interfaced with your vehicle's audio system.


If you have an older car that's equipped with a cassette player, yet you want to listen to CD-or MP3-quality sound, you do have options. A simulated cassette with a cable on one end can extend from your old car radio the device. The cassette adapter will play the audio signal through your vehicle's audio system as though it were a tape. But what if you don't even have a cassette deck as an option? A small FM radio transmitter (available from many electronics retailers) can broadcast the signal from the portable device to your car's antenna. Another option is a small cable that can interface the portable device with the radio's AUX jack or you may be able to use a USB cable, if your stereo supports it. If all goes well, installing such devices can take only a few minutes and the only danger is that the adhesive strip might mar the dashboard surface.

But not every installation goes exactly as planned. In fact, if you ask just about anyone that regularly tackles an automotive electronics upgrade they'll let you know that it's wise to expect the unexpected. Read the next page for a small sample of things that can go wrong.