Most Important Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying Your Car Audio System


There are many important things to consider when shopping for a new car audio system, some of which are not readily apparent to those who are not car audio enthusiasts. For anyone considering the purchase of an updated car audio system, remember to consider these factors:

To cut or not to cut? That is the question – Any car audio installation that requires serious cutting and/or physical modification, even the temporary removal of carpet for re-wiring, may cause a loss in value. On the other hand, some vehicles can be worth far more after the installation of an amazing car audio system. There is a balance to consider here, but the general rule of thumb is that newer vehicles tend to suffer far worse degradation in value when they are customized than older vehicles. This is true regardless of how amazing the audio system is.

A question of power – Huge woofers backed by enormous amps come with a few problems. The first of which is the need to cut and modify, the second of which is a question of power. Simply put, a vehicle is designed to handle specific tasks that the manufacturer specified when they designed it. Adding a f0ew thousand watts of ear-pounding speakers and the amplifiers to drive them was probably not in the blueprint. As a result, high-output batteries may need to be installed and an alternator will probably have to work significantly harder than it was initial intended to. This will often result in the need to upgrade to a heavy-duty alternator, or multiple alternators and/or multiple batteries in some situations.
High power means high risk – The third and final problem associated with high output audio equipment is that all of that equipment generates heat. Too much heat and wires can fuse and even catch fire. A vehicle traveling down the interstate with a half-full fuel tank and an undetected electrical fire is a disaster just waiting to happen.

Extreme music needs vs. public safety – Be sure to check the local statutes that govern what type of audio equipment can be placed in any given automobile. These laws may be on the books to protect other motorists from a driver who is listening to music so loud that they are unaware of honking, or to prevent the aforementioned possibility of a modified vehicle becoming rolling fireball.

Leases and insurance policies – Leases rarely give the lease permission to make significant modifications to a vehicle, and insurance policies may be null and void if a modification to a vehicle is unreported. Both of these remain true even if the monthly premiums are paid in a timely manner, so be aware that there could be some very serious consequences to making changes to a vehicle without letting an insurer know. In the case of a lease, some contracts take a ‘you break it, you bought it’ approach, so be sure to read the fine print.

USB compatibility – Many music enthusiasts already own portable media players and prefer to take their favorite mixes on the go with them wherever they go. USB compatibility is not necessarily a given, however, even on audio decks with USB ports. While almost all USB-equipped car audio equipment supports the nearly ubiquitous Apple iPod line of media players, other media players may not be so fortunate. This limitation is especially true of MP3 players that allow for exceptionally high bitrate playback, something that true audiophiles demand.

Bluetooth functionality – Bluetooth enabled car audio systems allow for hands free calling, but such calls may or may not be legal in all states, counties, and/or cities. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so anyone that plans on taking a Bluetooth equipped car audio system on a road trip should plan on spending at least a little time getting to know the local laws before they run the risk of unwittingly committing a potentially serious crime.

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