Steering Wheel Controls – You Don’t Have to Lose Them When Installing an Aftermarket Radio


Modern automobiles have a lot of features that are very convenient and now that we have become accustomed to them, are hard to live without. There are power windows, power locks, remote access systems and child-proof locks. The audio controls are another example of a device that has made our lives easier and more convenient, but it does create a problem for many owners. Many people worry that when they upgrade their car stereo they will lose the functionality of their steering wheel controls. This doesn’t have to be the case, however. You don’t have to choose between a better sounding stereo system and the convenience of your steering wheel controls.

Depending on what type of car and stereo you have, you may be able to buy an interface that allows you to connect your new stereo to your steering wheel controls. Many of the new stereo units have device ports that allow them to be connected rather quickly and easily. In fact, the installation of these devices is pretty clear cut on most models of cars, but there are a few models where the installation is a little more complex, so you may have to check the manufacturer’s recommendations to make sure that it can be done.

Installation of these devices is usually done by attaching anywhere from one wire to several wires to the steering column. Sometimes this installation is as simple as making one connection from the radio to the steering controls, at other times it may require several different connections. If your not familiar with the electronic components of your car, then you might consider seeking professional help. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with working with your car’s electronic components and have a little experience installing car stereos, then allow me to give you a few tips before you run out and buy a steering wheel audio control interface.

The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that not every automobile manufacture has adapters or converters available that will allow you to attach an aftermarket audio system to your steering wheel audio controls. Some manufacturers such as Hyundai and Kia have no such devices available at all. Other manufacturers such as Nissan, have only a small collection of interfaces that are compatible with their cars. If you have a Ford, Chrysler or GM car, then you should be able to find an adapter for your car, but you should still do the homework required to make an informed choice.

You also need to be aware that installing an aftermarket radio with an interface does not void your manufacturer’s warranty. Only a few people are aware of this, but according to a Federal law known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act , consumers can install any type of aftermarket device to their car without voiding their car’s warranty.

The last thing that needs to be mentioned is that even though you may have found a radio that looks like the radio in your car, it doesn’t mean that the two radios are the same. This is true even of radios that were manufactured in the same year and by the same manufacturer. Similar radios can have very different connectors and pin configurations. A radio that “looks” like it should fit your cars steering wheel controls may not and they may have dramatically different wiring schemes. The only way to tell for certain if two radios are identical is to check their serial numbers.

If you follow the above tips, then you should be able to install an aftermarket radio and still maintain the functionality of your steering wheel controls. The device interfaces cost approximately one hundred dollars and can usually be installed in under an hour. You can then enjoy a better sounding stereo without sacrificing the convenience of your steering wheel audio controls.

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