These days cars are a huge part of our lives, affecting where we can go, when we can go there, and how efficiently we can go there. While cars have also been a bit of a fashion statement the variety of cars available these days allows for more customization that draws in people of all types. The radio in your car is just one of those components, though it is good to take a long time to consider all your options if you’re looking to replace it.
The cost is the first thing that comes to mind when you need to update your radio. Radios come in all different shapes and sizes, as well as having different specializations such as a touch screen or an aux hookup. Because of the wide variety of these radios, the prices may vary, and you may not be able to find one that you like for cheap. Installation is also a big price, as you may have to pay for labor and parts if you chose to go to a mechanic, and if you do it the installation at home you run the risk of messing up and having to pay even more money. The dashboard of your vehicle may have to come out to replace the radio and if you don’t know what you’re doing this may cause major damage to your car or the wiring.
Whether or not you really need the radio is the other big factor. Sure, everyone wants the latest and greatest model of technology but unless there is some brand-new update or feature do you really need one? Ask yourself what having a new radio would provide for you and if it’s something that you need. But maybe you’re tired of listening to the radio, switching through stations as you try to avoid commercials, and thus spending your entire trip fiddling with the radio rather than relaxing.
All in all, getting a new radio is a big choice that comes in a small package. There are so many factors that come into replacing your radio that it is easy to see why some people don’t bother with replacing, instead turning to CDs and silence as they drive. Yet, some people still greatly want to be able to listen to their own music and so they turn to getting their own radio.
Whatever you decide it is important to go into the process knowing what you want and where to get it. Don’t let yourself get caught up on the small details until you get into the thick of the project; pick out your radio, decide if you’ll be doing the project on your own or by hiring a professional, and then put your plan into action. Once you’ve being that part of the project you can focus on the smaller details such as being out of a car for a few hours and planning your playlist for the first time you try out your new radio.
Are you tired of seeing this radio in your vehicle everyday? I mean come on, most of our smartphones don't even have aux inputs! Get rid of the dongle and learn how to upgrade your radio.
We all dream of upgrading our car radio and installing the latest and greatest piece of equipment. With the growing popularity of downloaded music, Bluetooth, and the want to avoid commercials it’s no wonder that people want a radio in their car that will allow them to play their music. However, there are some downsides to getting a new radio.
Buying the right part
Before beginning your project, you want to make sure that you purchase the right parts. Each car is different in the dashboard area, so you’ll need to make sure that you purchase a radio that can be mounted properly. If you are unsure of the measurements of your dashboard you can take your vehicle to a shop or figure out the measurements yourself.
Once you have the correct measurements, you’ll need to find the right type of radio that will not only fit but also fits your needs. Try shopping around both online and in-store, making sure to compare and contrast what you like about each radio and what you dislike. After you settle on your radio you’re ready to begin.
LUCKILY FOR YOU - We made it easy!
Follow these steps on our website to find the correct part!
While car radios might seem like the would-be cheap the truth is that they’re rather not. The piece of equipment that allows for either an aux hook up or Bluetooth, or both, can reach prices that rest in the high hundreds. This means that if you want something with high quality, you’re going to be paying a good amount of money for the radio alone.
You can certainly buy a radio for a cheaper price if you so desire, but it may lack the features that you are looking for. Some radios come with just Bluetooth, while others make come with the option for both that and aux. There are also some radios that are touch screen or have a wide display, but those are the ones that run on the more expensive side so if you’re looking to save a few dollars try looking elsewhere.
After you’ve purchased your radio then comes to the hard part: installation. If you’re handy with cars and their electrical workings you may be able to handle this project yourself. If you aren’t, however, you might want to consider taking your vehicle to a professional shop to see if they can help. Going to a professional can be costly, as not only have you paid for the radio but now you have to pay for the labor to install the radio, any parts that your vehicle might need to house the radio, and, depending on how long it will take, you may be out of a car for a hours at the least, a day or two at the most.
Should you choose to tackle this task yourself you’ll need to make sure that you have the right tools for installation, as well as putting aside more time than you would if you took it to a shop. You’ll also need to make sure that you find a guide that has your specific model or else you run the risk of not having the right components.
Could you imagine driving somewhere without listening to your favorite podcast of Spotify playlist? Or even worse, could you imagine without listening to anything besides the passenger in your vehicle?! Radios have become such a large part of our lives that it’s often hard to imagine a time without them. Unsurprisingly they have such a large and rich history.
By the 1920's, radios were taking over like a storm and people LOVED it! At the time radios were noisy, hard to tune and required some sort of technological knowledge. It wasn't long until people started implementing the radio into automobiles!
Some Early Attempts
Supposedly the first attempt at implementing a radio in a car was by Lee DeForest as a means of vehicle to vehicle communications at the 1904 World Exhibition in St. Louis.
There were other early attempts like the one pictured below. Obviously to insert a radio in a car was extremely complicated and required an antenna to stretch over the top of the vehicle.
The beginning of the car radio is a bit foggy and controversial. There are many accounts of who made the first car radio, so we are going to go over the ones that claim they were the first!
It wasn't until 1922 that the first FACTORY car radio appeared in the Chevrolet 1922 model. Chevrolet offered a Westinghouse radio as a $200 option ($2,734 in 2016 dollars and almost half the price as the car itself!)
Another claim for the first radio installed in a vehicle was a man named George Frost, an 18-year-old enthusiast. Legend has it that he was the first person to attach a portable radio to his Ford Model T, though no one is able to verify or deny that claim.
Even though radios had their popularity, it was rare for automobiles to have radios installed, most people didn't even own radios for their household!
Also at the time, radios were extremely hard to tune! They required constant adjustment and had three knobs to be tuned to the exact radio frequency (which was AM radio). It wasn't until the invention of superheterodyne tuning that made everyones life easier when tuning a radio.
"A superheterodyne receiver, often shortened to superhet, is a type of radio receiver that uses frequency mixing to convert a received signal to a fixed intermediate frequency (IF) which can be more conveniently processed than the original carrier frequency. It was invented by US engineer Edwin Armstrong in 1918 during World War I. Virtually all modern radio receivers use the superheterodyne principle."
By the late 1920s, superheterodyne tuning was becoming standard on home receivers. It reduced the tuning to a single knob and basically reinvented the radio!
"In 1926, Philco invented what could be considered the very first mass produced car radio, the Transitone and production began for the 1927 model year to be an option in Chevrolet sedans."
Though it may have been Philco that was the first, it was The Galvin brothers that made the car radio an essential requirement.
Galvin and his brother, Joseph, bought the bankrupt Stewart Battery Company at auction for $750.
In 1930 the first commercial car radio was introduced by a company known as Galvin Manufacturing Company, now known as Motorola; these radios were branded the Motorola 5T71 and rose in popularity, with sales reaching all the way across the border into Mexico. These radios were expensive for their time, the estimated cost being one hundred thirty dollars ($130), however, the price did little to reduce their popularity.
Early model of a Motorola car radio!
Motorola made their last car radio in 1984.
"AM stands for “Amplitude Modulation”, as AM radio signals vary their amplitude to adapt to the sound information that is being broadcasted through the wavelengths. While changes in amplitude occur on FM radio as well, they are more noticeable in AM radio because they result in audible static. So, essentially, when you’re switching the channels on an AM radio, you’re hearing changes in amplitude, which is why distant broadcasts with weak signals will come across as very faint with the sound largely dominated by static."
"FM stands for “Frequency Modulation,” and, unlike AM radio, sound is transmitted through changes in frequency. While both FM and AM radio signals experience frequent changes in amplitude, they are far less noticeable on FM. During an FM broadcast, slight changes in amplitude go unnoticed because the audio signal is presented to the listener through changes in frequency, not amplitude. So, when you’re switching between stations, your FM antenna is alternating between different frequencies, and not amplitudes, which produces a much cleaner sound and allows for smoother transitions with little to no audible static."
In 1933 Edwin Howard Armstrong invented the FM car radio and they started the be offered in vehicles in the early 1950s. Despite this, however, most people kept the AM channels for the preference for the top 40 hits that were played.
"And second, FM radio signals at the time were quiet and uncompressed. While AM signals remained fairly steady driving over hills and around buildings, FM in motion was subject to the "picket fencing" effect, the "fwip-fwip-fwip" sound an FM radio makes in motion.) Because of this, FM was thought as useless for cars by most mainstream radio manufacturers. But this didn't prevent upstart innovators from trying."
In 1979 the FM audience finally beat out the AM. In 1953 the search or seek function was added to car radios, making flipping through radio stations much easier!
Hi-Fi became extremely popular in the 1950s. But until 1956, it was only radios. You still couldn't play your own recorded music in your car.
"The Highway Hi-Fi was an option for newer Chrysler cars from 1956 to 1960. They played special 7" records that played at 16 2/3 RPM, half the speed of a standard LP. The 16 RPM speed also became featured on many home record changers, allowing these records to be played in the car or at home."
"Chrysler dropped the 16 RPM Highway Hi-Fi in 1960 and quickly reinvented the Highway Hi-Fi in the early 1960s as an after-market system using RCA's 45 RPM records in a changer. While this allowed for broader selection as nearly all record companies made 45 RPM records, the record wear problem and skipping in the grooves from vehicle vibrations remained. And ultimately, RCA gave up on the system.
But auto manufacturers didn't give up on the concept of car audio. In fact, their attention merely shifted to endless-loop cartridge tape systems such as the 4 Track tape player."
4 Track and 8 Track Tape Players
"The endless loop tape cartridge was invented in 1952. It had many potential uses, but radio stations adopted the endless loop cartridge before anyone. Toledo businessman Earl Muntz saw a potential for car audio use in these broadcast tapes and went into business making 4-Track tape cartridges and players for car use in 1962, later adding home units as well."
Roughly around the year 1985, the 8-track was introduced. These were developed by Learjet Corporation and allowed for people to play eight tracks in their vehicles, which also allowed for the tracks to be re-listening to again and again with the rewind function.
"The 8-Track reigned car audio for most of the '70s. But cassette tape was starting to make inroads. By 1980, cassettes had overtaken 8-Tracks as the most popular car tape format."
The company of Phillips introduced the cassette in 1964 though the popularity of the cassette wouldn’t gain the mass popularity that it is known for until the 1970s. With the introduction of the cassettes people were opened to the idea of mixtapes, which were mixes of music that people put together. Cassettes also allowed for musicians to reach their audiences better, with the recordings being sold in mass production.
In comes the 1980s and with it the introduction of the CD. With CDs now in the mix the car radio industry experienced a massive shift, needing to adapt to a disk that can be stuck on repeat as well as have the possibility to have a multi-disk rig on the radio.
"It was designed as a rich audiophile toy because nearly all of the very first CD titles were classical. The CDs themselves costed $30 each in 1984 (that's $70 in 2016 dollars.) Pop music also began appearing on CDs that year and so were the first in-dash CD player prototypes."
"But car CD players didn't become standard until the early 1990s. And soon, they would be upended by the MP3. But there were usually no adapter inputs for MP3 players. This led to the creation of tiny FM transmitters that relayed the audio from the headphone jack of an iPod or any other headphone jack equipped medium to the car's FM radio."
As with all things technology the CD was eventually rendered obsolete. Music and how we brought it into our lives were forever changed with the introduction of downloadable music. Car radios now need to have the function that allows you to hook up your wireless device, letting you play your own music over the car radio or else they are viewed as old and worn. Modern-day radios also have the ability to reach stations all across the world, rather than relying on the chance that there was a local station near you.
"And going into the future, it looks very likely streaming and on-demand radio will eventually replace AM/FM, satellite radio and all physical formats. As cars themselves become more dependent on web based artificial control and access, this is the only next logical step in the evolution of car audio. Terrestrial radio is just one of a bazillion different other entertainment apps of daily life. And mobile technology is quietly developing as we speak.
While 5G isn't much more than a tech marketing buzzword now (the ITU has plans to have the 5G standards ready by 2020, in spite of the current tech market speculation.) And things will change further.
And as so will the model of car audio."
As much as most of us wish our vehicles would remain perfect forever, that is highly unlikely. Vehicle maintenance can be very costly, especially if you are going to a mechanic when anything goes wrong. Whether you are a frequent road traveler, or you just use your car to commute to work, it is good if you know a few basic repairs. We wrote this article for men and WOMEN. Women are often unfairly portrayed as damsels in distress at the auto body shop and very commonly overcharged for maintenance. Dealerships charge their customers thousands of dollars for minor repairs instead of the more cost-effective alternative: Do It Yourself!
1. Oil Change
It is imperative that you periodically check and change your car’s oil to ensure the smooth running of the vehicle and also to prolong the lifespan of its engine. Changing your car’s oil is one of the most fundamental DIY skills you should have for car maintenance or repair. Of course, it’s a different story if the oil filter and oil drain plug of your car are very hard to reach.
Basic steps involve draining the oil by removing the oil drain plug, unscrewing the oil filter and emptying it, putting the oil filter and drain plug back, removing the oil filler hole cap, and pouring fresh oil. Nothing you can’t learn from the tons of tutorials available online!
2. Changing a flat tire.
There’s a reason “wheels” is slang for car. It’s because the tires are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. And they can go flat on you every once in a while, but changing a flat tire does not have to be a big deal and could actually be a lifesaving skill if you learn it.
Basic steps involve loosening the lug nuts (with a wrench), using a jack stand to lift the car off the ground, removing the lug nuts (and subsequently the tire), placing the spare tire on, wrenching the lug nuts back on, lowering the car, and finally making sure the lug nuts are tight. Yes, it is that simple.
3. Car radio repair
When thinking about the basic repairs to do for your car, most people don’t think repairing a radio belongs to that category. Most dealerships and auto stereo shops replace radios with new or used ones, when in actual fact, repairing a radio can save you hundreds; sometimes thousands of dollars. The most difficult repair for your radio is repairing the touchscreen or CD/DVD mechanism which requires a few more steps. If you have any previous electronic or mechanical experience, the repair process can be very easy and some installations can take some minutes! Check out our Radio Repair videos here!
4. Removing scratches from the paint.
Scratches are the absolute worst. Even the tiniest scratches are visible from a distance and can kill the overall appearance of your metal monster. Unfortunately, it may cost you thousands to get them removed at an auto body shop, but you can save the money and the frustration with a simple DIY job.
The steps include: determining the depth of the scratch, lightly sanding the scratch, cleaning the area, applying rubbing compound, polishing the area with the rubbing compound, washing the area, and finally waxing the area to seal the repair. That’s it. You have just saved yourself a lot of money.
5. Changing a car battery.
Car batteries tend to die on us at the most inconvenient times. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, your best bet would be to find roadside assistance and/or call a tow truck. But if you’re home and your battery shows signs that it might need replacement, the DIY replacement method is quite easy.
The steps include: removing any covers from the battery, disconnecting the negative cables, moving the clamp away from the battery post, doing the same for the positive cable clamp, removing all screws, replacing the old battery with the new one, and finally reconnecting the cable clamps. It is important that you label the cables before you remove them, as putting the wrong cables on the wrong battery terminals can damage the battery.
6. Replacing a headlight or taillight.
Having a broken headlight or taillight is not only inconvenient but is actually illegal. Consequently, you need to change them as soon as they begin to fade. But why waste money on a mechanic when the DIY replacement is so easy?
Headlamp replacement process involves: removing the screws connecting the headlight frame to the bracket, disconnecting the electrical connector, removing the faulty bulb and replacing it with a new one, plugging the connector back on, and finally replacing the frame.
Sometimes only your frame might be broken, which can be just as hazardous. You can change it following the same procedure.
7. Replacing wipers.
Windshield wipers are one of the least appreciated parts of your car’s safety system. Imagine what would happen if they failed on you during a heavy downpour or snowfall, perhaps resulting in damage to your brand new vehicle. Faulty wiper blades need to replaced, and you need to be sure that your windshield wipers are always in perfect shape. This DIY is an easy fix.
The steps involve: lifting the wiper arm away from the windshield, depressing the small tab that allows the wiper blade to be pulled off, lining up the new wiper blade with the arm, and pushing it in tightly. Done! Make sure to follow tutorials while doing it.
8. Replacing air filters.
Air filters are one of the most overlooked parts of your car. They keep your engine free of dust and other contaminants. They are inexpensive and quite easy to replace, so keeping your car’s engine clean is another easy DIY.
The steps include: opening the hood, locating the air filter unit, removing the air filter cover, taking the air filter out and cleaning the air filter housing, inserting a new filter, and finally replacing the cover. You are done! For better performance, it is recommended that you ensure you change your filter once every 30,000 miles or approximately once every year.
9. Changing brake pads.
The brakes are one of the most important elements of your vehicle for ensuring your safety while driving. Many car accidents result from brake failures, so your car’s brakes always need to be in perfect condition. Thankfully, changing the brake pads can be as easy as changing a flat tire.
Basic steps involve loosening the lug nuts off the wheels, jacking the car up, removing the wheels, removing the slider bolts, removing the older brake pads and replacing them with new ones, and putting the slider bolts and the wheels back on securely. You should be particularly careful if you’re using replica wheels. This is another simple DIY that can save you some money!
10. Jumpstarting a car.
This is not so much a repair as it is a fundamental skill. Everyone should know how to jumpstart their own car. You wouldn’t want to have to call roadside assistance every time your car won’t start, and it’s really the easiest thing ever.
Just take your jumper cables out, put both vehicles in neutral and shut the ignition off. Now, attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery and the other to the positive terminal of the battery in the other car (the one that will start). Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal of the battery in the other car. Attach the other end to an unpainted metal surface. Now try to start your vehicle. You’re done!
Sometimes you might not be able to find another car around to jump your vehicle. We recommend carrying a portable Jumper for your vehicle. Buy it Here!
We hope these tips above can help you save money that you would otherwise spend on a mechanic to handle your car’s issues. Don't be afraid to DIY!
Keywords: Vehicle maintenance, headlamp replacement, car battery
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“Basic Car Repair Everyone Should Know.” Dumb Little Man, 3 Nov. 2017, www.dumblittleman.com/basic-car-repair/.
Dellitt, Julia. “5 Car Maintenance Skills Everyone Should Know.” The Everygirl, The Everygirl, 13 Apr. 2017, theeverygirl.com/5-car-maintenance-skills-everyone-should-know/.
Ktrk. “Here Are the 10 Basic Do-It-Yourself Car Repairs You Should Know.” ABC13 Houston, 9 Nov. 2017, abc13.com/automotive/the-10-basic-car-repair-skills-you-should-know/2622755/.
“Leatherman.” Leatherman Difference, www.leatherman.com/blog/diy/6-diy-car-repairs-everyone-should-know.
Paudyal, Nabin. “10 Basic Car Repairs Everyone Should Know.” Lifehack, Lifehack, 13 Mar. 2016, www.lifehack.org/374885/10-basic-car-repairs-everyone-should-know.