Today is the day! You’ve been saving for weeks and it’s time to go buy that sweet new touchscreen head unit.
It has all the latest technology like built-in XM radio, Bluetooth, and more features than you could ever need. Congrats! Great sound starts with a great source unit. Now, will you have it professionally installed or will you attempt to install it by yourself?
The DIY approach can be tempting for those of us looking to save a little cash. It seems reasonable that doing something yourself will be cheaper than hiring professionals to handle everything. But when you look at all the costs involved in a successful install, you’ll see that this simply might not be the case when it comes to car audio.
Here are three reasons why DIY car audio installation might cost you more.
- Vehicle complexity. Today’s cars and trucks are more complex than ever before. Manufacturers are making their OEM equipment more difficult and sometimes impossible to replace with every new model they release. First, it was little things, such as Honda running the dome light circuit through the radio, GM having the door dinger through a door speaker, or Mercedes incorporating the alarm trigger on the back of the radio.Those were easy to bypass and minor annoyances at worst, but these days we have to worry about computer data, various vehicle sensors, cameras, navigation, WiFi, microphones, noise cancellation tech, active volume control and who knows what else running through our stereos. And, if you make a mistake, your lights may go haywire, your car might not start, or even worse—smoke could rise from your dashboard. That’s going to be a costly repair. A professional installer has resources and equipment available to either work around or integrate these features into the new system.It’s not just new cars, though. All cars have wiring that carries DC voltage. One of the worst burn jobs I ever repaired was a ’76 Mustang II where someone had wired a speaker directly to 12 volts. For whatever reason, the fuse didn’t protect it and the driver’s side door, kick panel, seat, dash and all of the wiring were burnt to a crisp. That car was nowhere near as complex as anything past the mid 90’s.
- Tools. Many Fords and most European radios require special tools to remove them without damaging the dash. Some cars require you to disassemble half the dashboard around the radio before you can access it. Some even have security screws to prevent removal. Do you have the specialty tools and panel poppers to take apart a dash without damaging it? How about a right-angle driver for otherwise impossible to remove screws? Got a phase tester for speakers? Oscilloscope for signal clipping? Pink noise generator? Real time analyzer?Having the right tools can make a HUGE difference in the time required to do the job, and it prevents the breaking of the clips and tabs that hold your dash together so your car stays in one piece for as long as you own it.
- Insurance. Your vehicle insurance probably does not cover damage caused by improperly installed equipment. A professional installer and the company they work for are covered by insurance policies for just these sorts of situations. One crossed wire and that $150 you saved by installing it yourself could cost you thousands to replace a vehicle computer.Again, the pros have resources available that assist them in integrating your new product into the complex environment of the vehicle’s electrical system so that these situations never happen
So…is it really worth the risk of broken dash bezels, annoying squeaks and rattles, and the possibility of fried electrical equipment or fire damage in your car just to save the $65-$150 installation fee?
By choosing professional installation, you aren’t just paying for the installer’s time; you are also getting their experience from working on countless other vehicles, their knowledge of your new product, their specialty tools, their resources and the insurance coverage that protects your vehicle in their shop. The easy and inexpensive way for installing your car audio is just to let the professionals do their job.
And to think, this only covers head units! Can you even imagine what you would be getting into by trying to run heavy gauge amplifier power cable from the battery to the trunk or installing an alarm system to protect every door and opening on the car?
Don’t risk it! Have it professionally installed by Cartronics today!