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There are many options when it comes to replacing a car radio. Radios range in quality and therefore in price. A professional can do the installation, or the car owner can do it themselves for a little less, with some caveats. This article outlines these caveats.
People who fancy replacing their car radio might be looking for:
- An entirely new fan dangled radio and stereo system
- To upgrade from an FM radio to a Bluetooth/touchscreen/smart system
- Simply to replace their broken radio with the same or slightly newer model
- A radio for a car with no previous sound system or radio
The costs of each of these options vary greatly depending on what the person wants to update.
Below, the costs of replacing a car radio get a breakdown in more depth. This article is just an outline; there is always the chance that prices are slightly skewed depending on the make and model of the car and radio in question.
Please note that this article uses the words “radio” and “stereo” interchangeably to mean the part of a car with buttons and a screen that controls music and AM/FM sound. “Speaker,” “subwoofer,” and “bass unit” may all be used to mean the part of a car that music comes out of.
Whether a person wants to install their new car radio themselves or have it done by a professional, the price of parts is about the same. However, some installers will upcharge supplies to make a profit. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable in many cases, as it can be hard to tell if the installer is telling the truth.
This information is not here to discourage people from having their radios installed professionally. The next subsection (Cost of Parts) can help a person who wants to make sure they are not being scammed by a professional. The reader can learn the terms for the parts needed to complete the job below. Then they can compare prices on this list and reputable websites with the quote that a professional installer gives them.
At the end of this section, there is an outline of the price of parts alone with various options ranging from low to high end. There is an inclusion of additional speaker upgrades in some of the calculations. These additions are specified where appropriate.
The reader is encouraged to keep in mind that installation and tool costs are not in this section. If a person wants to install a new car radio themselves, they may incur additional costs if they need to purchase new tools for the job. Contrastingly, a person will surely accumulate additional costs if they want the radio replacement done professionally.
Multiple sets of wiring, an aerial adapter, the new radio itself, and possibly new speakers are everything a person needs to replace a car radio. Here is the breakdown of prices for each of these parts.
New wiring is necessary to connect a new radio to the rest of a car’s system. This will cost from £15 to £30.
There is also steering control wiring. This ensures that the driver can continue to control the steering wheel with a new radio or stereo system. In newer cars, this wiring also ensures that the driver can control the radio volume and song controls with the buttons on their steering wheel. This wiring is separate from the basic wiring and will cost about £45 to £100.
A patch lead connects the steering control wiring to the steering wheel control module, which costs about £10. All three of these wirings connect together in a circuit.
Total cost range for all wiring: Between £70 and £140.
An aerial adapter is needed to connect the car’s aerial system to the new radio. This adapter is pretty inexpensive, which runs from about £1 to £25. Sometimes the car’s aerial adapter is already compatible with the new radio and will not need to be replaced. It will depend on the make and model of the car, the year of the car’s manufacture, and the make and model of the new radio.
Total cost range for the aerial adapter: Between £0 and £25.
And of course, there is the new car radio itself and any additional speakers or subwoofers the person may wish to install. This can range considerably based on the technology a person wishes to include in their new system.
The cheapest radio can cost as low as £37, with the most expensive option costing as much as £899.99 on Halfords’ website. Their website offers a varied range of products and was therefore used to make sure this article considers a wide range for these calculations.
The cheapest radio option is going to be the most basic AM/FM radio possible. A person may want this option if their car’s simple radio is broken and irreparable. The expensive radio versions include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and can hook up to reverse camera systems. Note: Stereos do not come with any camera systems themselves, and the price mockup of this article does not include them.
Total cost range for a new radio: Between £37 and £900.
If a person is interested in simply replacing a singular faulty speaker in their vehicle, the cost can be as low as £10. However, if the person wants to upgrade their entire speaker system complete with a bass unit subwoofer, this will cost between £149 and £429.
For the purpose of this article’s calculations, £429 will be the number taken into account. The reader is encouraged to keep in mind that this price does not include professional installation and wiring for the speakers. Whether the person uses a professional installer or does it themselves, they will need wiring. Stereo wiring is an additional cost not included in this section of the mockup.
Total cost range for new speakers: Between £10 and £429.
And finally, here is the total cost breakdown of all parts and supplies. The reader should keep in mind that this is a range, and realistically a new set of radio parts will fall somewhere in the middle.
Low-End Total Cost with No Speakers: £107
High-End Total Cost with No Speakers: £1,065
Low-End Total Cost with Single Replacement Speaker: £117
High-End Total Cost with Complete Sound Overhaul: £1,494
To replace a car radio at home, the average DIY-er will need the parts and supplies from the last section as well as tools. However, there are a couple things to think about in addition to parts and tools.
Something to keep in mind when installing a car radio at home is the potential repair cost. Many outlets that sell radios and offer installation also offer warranties, guarantees, and free repairs. Halfords offers a 12-month guarantee which includes free repairs should anything go wrong with a new car radio purchased from them.
Note: There is usually a fine print with these guarantees. But for the most part, they are reliable and can come in quite handy.
This information is not here to discourage readers from installing a car radio themselves. It is definitely the most cost-effective upfront to complete the installation as a DIY project. However, professional installation can offer peace of mind later down the line.
Of course, one can make the argument that “time is money” as well. So, it is quite a personal decision. Would a person rather spend money not to have to waste time installing a new car radio? Or would they instead spend time to save money on the installation of a new car radio?
Philosophical questions aside, what goes into installing a new car radio at home is the radio itself, all the necessary parts, and some specific tools.
This article outlined the costs of a new radio, speakers, and parts in previous sections. But what about tools for the person who wants to complete this sound upgrade themselves?
A simple tool kit is needed to extract the old radio from the fascia plate. These tools usually come in a set. These sets are on offer online as an “Auto Trim Removal Kit,” “Car Trim Removal Kit,” or “Car Radio/Stereo Removal Tool Set.” Prices for these toolsets range from £8.99 to £190.
Unfortunately, these kits are very specialized for the singular purpose of removing a car radio. There are not many other practical uses for the tools found in these sets. So unless a person wants to start their own car radio replacement business, they probably will not need to invest in a £200 kit!
Again, this range goes from one extreme to the other. The realistic price will fall somewhere in the middle. But it is good to know that this job can be done very cheaply if a person wants the most basic of radios.
Cost of Radio and Speakers: £37 to £900 for a new radio, £10 to £429 for speaker(s)*
Cost of Necessary Parts: £70 to £165*
Cost of Auto Trim Removal Tools: £8 to £190
Total Cost: £115 to £1,255
*Prices are taken from the previous section Cost of Parts.
One other thing to keep in mind is that if a person wants to replace their car radio themselves, it is essential to note the DIN of the original car radio. DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung and is the standard measurement for car radios. It is a German term, but most auto manufacturers use it.
A single-DIN radio is about 2 inches tall, while a double-DIN radio is 4 inches tall. Think of standard 90’s radios with CD players (single DIN) vs. today’s touchscreen Apple- and Android-compatible radios (double DIN). A handful of radio manufacturers create radios that are in between the two standard sizes, called 1.5 DIN radios.
DIN is important because it is much easier to replace an old double-DIN radio with a new double-DIN radio – as opposed to a single DIN – if doing it as a home DIY project. This ensures that the person will not have to mess with trying to replace or modify their car’s fascia plate.
Fascia plate upgrades are not part of this DIY section of cost breakdowns because it is an advanced technique. This article assumes that someone with fascia plate upgrade knowledge will already be acquainted with the prices of replacing a car radio.
This section outlines the cost of labor. It also goes into detail about why the cost of parts might be different when purchasing an entire installation through a professional car audio shop.
Professional installers will charge a range of prices depending on their level of expertise, and the car and radio make and model on which they are working. Car sound system experts can outfit almost any vehicle with a brand-new stereo.
On average, the cost of labor to uninstall the old car radio and install the new one runs between £50 and £200. This price is in addition to the cost of the parts, which professional shops may upcharge in order to turn a profit.
A new speaker system includes additional wiring and labor, which can cost anywhere from £50 to £300 for installation and parts. This price does not include the price of the speakers themselves.
Some professional installers run promotions that make the cost of speaker installation cheaper when paired with a new radio install. The estimated price of £50 should only be assumed as true when in a situation where the radio will be installed as well. All of these prices are estimates; every professional car audio shop is different and will have its own pricing system.
Total cost range for car radio replacement labor: Between £50 and £200.
Total estimated cost range for parts when billed through a professional installer: £100 to £300
Total estimated cost range for speaker installation: Between £50 and £300
While this might be a deterrent, it is important to remember that websites upcharge for all their products as well. Most shops get their products from the same inexpensive wholesaler and increase the price they charge on their websites and in their stores. Professional installers do the same thing, but sometimes at a steeper price.
Halfords, for example, offers an add-on option with their radios to fully fit a new system into the customer’s car. They also offer a demonstration of each new radio sold to their customers. This convenience is rolled into a one-stop-shop package and is worth the higher price tag for many customers.
When a car’s radio is replaced, a person is usually trying to upgrade their system. This means they will sometimes want a different size and shape (DIN) than their original radio. When a person has their car’s radio replaced professionally, they have many more options.
Why is this?
A car’s radio can be replaced with a different sized radio because a professional installer can make sure the car’s fascia plate is fitted correctly over the new radio. This is why DIN does not matter as much in the case of professional installation.
Most professional installers can look at a person’s car and advise them on which radios they can choose, from single DIN to double DIN.
Total cost range for fascia plate replacement: Between £30 and £149.
Cost of Radio and Speakers: £37 to £900 for a new radio, £10 to £429 for speaker(s)*
Cost of Necessary Parts: £100 to £300
Cost of Professional Labor for Radio: £50 to £200
Cost of Professional Labor for Speakers: £50 to £300
Cost of Fascia Plate Replacement: £30 to £149
Total Cost without Speakers (Radio Only) with Fascia Replacement: £217 to £1,549
Total Cost without Speakers (Radio Only) without Fascia Replacement: £187 to £1,400
Total Cost for Radio and Speakers with Fascia Replacement: £277 to £2,278
Total Cost for Radio and Speakers without Fascia Replacement: £247 to £2,129
*Prices are taken from the section Cost of Parts.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Car Radio? Conclusion
So that was a breakdown of how much it costs to replace a car radio. These cost mockups included a vast range. We wanted to include the most extreme options on both ends. We feel that this gives an accurate representation of the whole picture. But what do you think?
Do you have any secret tips to replace a car radio for even less money? Do you have a fancy radio in your car that was worth every penny? Let us know in the comments!