The cost of installing a new stereo system into your vehicle ranges depending on the kind of upgrade you would like to make and the extent to which you do it yourself rather than hire an audio specialist. For obvious reasons, the cheapest way is to install the radio yourself because you only have to pay for the cost of the materials and possibly some other minor hardware or tools.
However, many of us don’t feel comfortable taking on such big projects or we just don’t have the time in our busy schedules to set aside to install a new car radio on our own. This article will explore some other out-of-the-box options that can help you to choose the most economical and effective option to have a new radio installed in your vehicle.
Who Are You Gonna Call to Install your Radio?
Decades ago, having a new radio installed into your car was somewhat of new innovation and could cost you thousands of dollars to have your entire sound system replaced. Nowadays, the technology itself has become much more standardized and because the installation process is more simple, you can now have these upgrades done for a fraction of the cost.
Several of the larger outlets such as Best Buy or Supercheap Auto even provide a standard pricing guide for the type of upgrade you are looking to have done, regardless of which kind of car you have or what brand of equipment you want to be installed. Keep in mind, this guide only refers to installation costs and not the price of the equipment you want to have installed. The installation costs may have become more standard, but you can still choose to purchase top-shelf equipment that will make the overall cost much higher.
The overall cost will mostly be determined by how many different aspects of your stereo you would like to upgrade. Some drivers may like the speakers in their vehicle but can’t stand the interface and want access to more features than it currently offers. You may be more concerned with the quality and volume of your car stereo and place more emphasis on customizing your speakers, subwoofers, or amplifier.
The more you choose to upgrade, the more expensive the job, and each replacement comes with its own separate installation cost at the majority of these larger retailers. Now that you have a better idea of how installation costs are broken down, let’s review some of the major providers of these services and see how they compare to each other.
Related: How to install a Kenwood Radio/Car stereo
Best Buy has become one of the leaders in car stereo installation because of:
- The number of locations they have across the globe
- The range of products they offer and install
- The simple pricing guide
- The speed of installation
- Their Total Tech Support Program ($200 per year)
Best Buy provides the following detailed pricing chart on their website. The last column on the right is the cost of that service for a Total Tech Support Member.
- Car Amplifier Installation $119.99–$129.99 Included
- Signal Processor Installation $49.99–$69.99 Included
- Satellite Radio Installation $39.99–$79.99 Included
- Car Deck Installation $64.99 Included
- Advanced In-Dash Navigation or
- In-Dash Video Installation $99.99 Included
- Standard Speaker Installation $64.99 Included
- Component Speaker Installation $99.99 20% discount
- Rear-Seat Video Installation $119.99–$199.99 20% discount
- Subwoofer Installation $19.99 Included
- Bluetooth Hands-Free Installation $129.99 20% discount
- Smartphone Audio Installation $59.99 Included
- Backup Camera and Mirror Installation $49.99–$159.99 Included
- Dash Camera Installation $59.99 Included
- Standard Remote Start Installation $149.99 Included
- Portable GPS/Radar Detector Installation $49.99–$59.99 Included
As you can see, Best Buy has made calculating the exact cost of installing a car radio simple because you can add up exactly which services you are looking to hire. Their Total Tech Support Program may also be a good option for you if you are someone who places a high value on your car stereo system and makes upgrades and new purchases often. When having a new car stereo installed with Best Buy, you can know exactly what to expect when the job is done and it is time to pay your bill.
They also offer the additional service through their website of making sure that a certain piece of equipment will in fact fit in your vehicle. Simply provide them with your car’s make and model and they will get back to you to make sure it is compatible with your car before you move forward and schedule an appointment. This can all be done on their website and they will even include potential extra costs you may incur during the installation like extra wiring or hardware.
If you live in Australia and New Zealand, Supercheap Auto is also a popular option for having a new car radio installed. They also offer a standardized pricing guide for installation costs on their website. However, it’s important to remember that in comparing Supercheap and Best Buy, the Best Buy chart is reported in American dollars whereas the following is in Australian dollars.
- Direct Head Unit Replacement $129
- With Steering Wheel Control $188
- Direct Speaker Replacement $69
Supercheap Auto currently offers these basic services so for any further upgrades, you will need to find an alternative solution. It is also important to note that they only install products sold in their stores, so be aware of that before making your decision.
Other Potential Alternatives
Don’t forget that there are always smaller, local audio specialists and mechanics who are capable of completing these jobs, and often at a better quality than their bigger competitors. As these electronics giants grow larger and larger, it is harder for local businesses to compete. Not to mention many of us would rather spend our money supporting a local business and keeping our dollars in the community rather than giving them to a large corporation.
The standardizing of both car audio technology and its installation cost means that you will likely get a similar price from these smaller technicians as you do from a corporate giant like Best Buy or Supercheap Auto. It may take a bit more time and a few extra phone calls, but that is a small price to pay for choosing to spend your money more responsibly and potentially receiving better, more personalized service.
Make The Best Decision For You
Now that you have a better idea of how much it costs to install a car radio, you can now move forward from a more informed position to make the right choice for yourself. The fact that the cost will be relatively the same for more basic jobs no matter where you go means that there are several other factors that will likely determine your decision.
You may want to take into account:
- how quickly you can get an appointment
- how specialized the upgrades you are looking to make are
- how much you trust the technicians providing you that service
- whether it is important to you to support a local business rather than its corporate competitor
Plan Your Course of Action
Whatever your decision, you can now feel confident that you looked at it from all the angles and have a better understanding of what it costs to install a new radio in your car. You may find that the best course of action is to make a long-term plan and upgrade one piece of equipment at a time.
Make a list of all your desired changes and then you will be able to estimate each of their costs and how they fit into your budget. We hope this article will help to guide you toward the most economical and financially responsible decision-making when it comes to installing a new stereo in your vehicle
Any Further Questions?
How long does a car radio installation take?
No matter the extent of upgrading you would like to do, most jobs can be finished between an hour and a day. Only very big jobs that include replacing several components or completely restructuring your car’s stereo system should take more than a single day.
Does Walmart do car radio installation?
Walmart does not offer car radio installation services directly, but they do offer packages through which they connect you with contractors such as InstallerNet that provide services like speaker installment, head unit replacement, and other basic upgrades.