How Much Does It Cost To Install A Car Stereo?

car stereo playing music

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There's nothing like driving down the road, your windows rolled down and your favorite music playing over your car stereo system. However, what happens if your vehicle of choice doesn't have a car stereo that supports the kind of features you're interested in? When this is the case you'll need to install a new car stereo. You'll also need to answer the question of how much does it cost to install a car stereo?

How much does it cost to install a car stereo? The price can vary wildly based on a number of factors. It also depends on if you install the car stereo yourself or take it into a professional. Typically, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to well over $1,000, based on these factors. 

Keep reading to find out what factors come into play and will impact how much the car stereo installation cost is.

The cost of installing a new car stereo comes down to a handful of factors. If you're comfortable taking the front display of your vehicle apart and purchase a basic car stereo, you should be able to perform the upgrade for around $100. However if you want more than just a standard CD player with some basic features, you will end up paying more.

A car stereo isn't always just the receiver or the CD player. You may want to include new speakers in your vehicle. You may want more speakers than what the system current has, or you might want an amplifier to really give your system some bass and power. All of these play a role in answer the question of how much does it cost to install a car stereo?

On top of it all, you'll need to determine whether you want to perform the car stereo installation or if you'd rather pay a professional to do it. If you're just adding in a new CD player, you can perform the upgrade on your own without much trouble. However, if you want the entire system overhauled, it will probably be in your best interest to pay a professional to install everything. Some facilities even provide discounted installation services if you buy the equipment from them.

How To Install A Basic Car CD Player To Save Money

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Let's say you want to go as inexpensive as possible. Maybe you drive an older car and want to upgrade from a tape deck to a CD player. Or perhaps you want a device that features Bluetooth or call waiting as you live in a state that requires hands-free calling. Basic CD players now come with a number of features, and it's possible to pick up a solid CD player for well under $100. If this sounds of interest to you, the installation will cost under $100 total and likely only take an hour or two of your time.

What Is Needed For A Self Installation?

car cd player

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You'll only need a handful of parts when it comes to the self installation. Now that you have the CD player you'll need a screwdriver (a Phillips screwdriver for sure, but you should also have a flat head screwdriver on hand just in case).

You will need to purchase a CD player adapter for your vehicle. This is a mount designed to securely fasten the new CD player into your vehicle. As the opening of each vehicle is different, the adapter will be made for your particular car make and model year. You can buy these online usually for under $10 or so.

You will also want to pick up some wire cutters and strippers.You will need to perform some basic wire splicing, but it's easy to do. At the very least you'll want to have some electrical tape on hand. You can also pick up wire seals, which slip over the wire like a hollow tube, connect the two wires together, then move the seal over the exposed wire and use a lighter flame to constrict the seal.

How To Install The CD Player

To complete installing the CD player yourself and keep the price at or under $100, you'll want to turn off the vehicle. Now, remove the face plate around your car's current radio. Some older cars will snap in and out by pinching corners of the face plate. Others will be secured down in screws. A handful of modern cars may require you to take apart a few panels to access it. It's best to check with your owner's manual for this.

Now, pull the current radio out. It will be connected with speaker wires in the back. Do not just rip these wires out. Instead, disconnect one at a time and take note of the speaker it is connected to (it will say on the back of the current radio. Use masking tape or something to mark the wires. This will save you time later. Finish the disconnection process to remove the radio completely.

Now, fit the new CD player into the adapter mount and screw it in place. Your new CD player will come with a small wire harness. Connect the harness to the rear of the player. Now, connect the wires you marked with the new wires. You'll need to use the wire strippers to remove the wire covering.

Once you have all the wires connected slip the player and the mount into the opening and tighten it down. Now, place the face plate back over the receiver to complete your $100 installation.

Professional Installation

When you're looking at how much does it cost to install a car stereo and you want more than just the car CD player installed, you're looking at a much larger price tag. It's necessary to break down the different upgrades and parts to consider including:

  • Receiver
  • Amplifier
  • Speakers
  • Wire Harness
  • Installation Cost

Receiver

A basic CD player receiver can be purchased for under $100. But what happens when you want more features? Maybe you want a large touchscreen or perhaps you'd at least like the ability to play DVDs in the player. All of this will cost you extra. The receiver alone can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars. You can easily spend $500 or more on this new receiver, so keep this in mind when shopping around.

Amplifier

car stereo

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If you're looking at adding dedicated subwoofers and more powerful speakers, you'll need something that can handle more electricity. The current configuration of your vehicle likely is not designed for this, which means you'll need an amplifier. You may even need a secondary battery dedicated specifically to the audio system. All of this will add up quickly as well. The size (and cost) of the amplifier will depend on how much power you want and the size of your speakers.

Speakers

gray speaker inside the car

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When it comes to how much does it cost to install a car stereo, the speakers play a big role. Basic speakers are inexpensive but will not produce the same quality audio you're looking for. Higher end speakers will give you better sounding highs and lows but will cost more. If you have a smaller or older car, you may only need four speakers. If you have a newer vehicle, you may need to replace eight or more speakers. If you're dropping $100 per speaker, this will push the speaker price alone to nearly $1,000.

Wire Harness

car wiring's

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If you're asking yourself, "how much does it cost to install a car stereo?", you shouldn't forget one of the hidden expenses: the wire harness. If you are completely overhauling the audio system, you'll need new wiring installed. This means a new wire harness, which is basically a series of wires secured into rope-like configurations. This makes it easier to access later (and to keep everything neat and organized). The wire harness costs money on its own, it takes time to put together plus it will cost extra to have it installed.

Professional Installation

car stereo system wiring

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Some service locations will give you a discount, or even wave the installation fee if you purchase a CD player from the location. However, if you see "free installation" advertised, it likely is not for an entirely new system. This can take hours to perform (if not longer), so these kinds of full-overhaul installations will probably add another several hundred dollars to the cost.

When you add it all up, you can either keep the price of your installation down to under $100, or you can easily spend several thousand dollars. It all comes down to the system you are interested in.

Related Questions

What are some car stereo features to consider? If you want to future-proof your car stereo, you'll want to include Bluetooth and at least a USB connection. You may also want a GPS-enabled system, which keeps you from looking at your phone for directions.

What are some top brands to consider? There are several top audio brands to consider. Most of these top brands are the same as in-home audio manufacturers, including Yamaha, Sony, and Bose. Of course, these top brands will boost the final price, so you'll need to consider this when you make up your final tally in answer to the question: "how much does it cost to install a car stereo?"

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