Why go to a specialist for car stereo when you can buy something cheap on Amazon and have your cousin install it?
The first reason is too many DIY installations go wrong, often after Amazon’s 30 day exchange policy has expired, while a specialist will give a generous warranty for his installation.
And the second reason is that Amazon doesn’t really know what to sell you. It provides no advanced data to ensure the car audio component you buy matches your car model, and consumers often end up with the wrong speakers for their car and the wrong installation accessories.
And if you want to add bass to your car, as many do, there are different solutions for different cars, and you may end up with the wrong approach.
“Some of the customers are quite good at installing the product, but they are not good at choosing them,” says Paul Nachriner, owner of car stereo specialty shop AMS Mobile Electronics, Madison, WI. “I had a young man come in with a late model Civic. He bought a high quality expensive woofer and a larger power amplifier at a big box retailer.” He came to AMS to get an enclosure for the woofer and a power kit for the amplifier.
The system he designed for himself was completely unbalanced. The woofers would overpower the factory speakers in the front so it would be hard to hear a singer’s voice, not to mention certain instruments. Nachriner put together a system that was $200 cheaper than the one the customer had in mind that sounded amazing and that included upgraded speakers for the front.
What You Get at a Car Stereo Specialist
But let’s say you correctly pick out your own products online and save $100 or $200.
Here’s what you get for that extra money spent at a brick and mortar car stereo specialty shop:
- Free diagnosis and troubleshooting if there’s a problem down the road, often good for as long as you own the car.
- Diagnostic tools that are necessary for today’s cars such as OBD2 scanners, airbag reset tools, Real Time Analyzers and volt meters.
- Assurance you won’t trip a fault code while you are working on a car leaving you to find out what’s wrong and how to reset it.
- Knowledge of how to tune the system for your particular car so its sounds as well as it should.
- Assistance with firmware updates as they become available for today’s car radios.
- After working on hundreds of cars, a specialist knows the pitfalls and quirks of each car model such as where to best place the tweeters, which subwoofers work well in your particular trunk, and what size wire to use for the amplifier.
The issue should really be how to find a great car stereo shop. We suggest you visit the web sites and Facebook pages of a few local shops and then the physical stores. See how knowledgeable the salesmen are, how professionally customers are treated.
Some installers have taken the time to earn certification by the MECP (Mobile Electronics Certified Professional) organization, which is one sign that the shop is devoted to quality installation and professionalism.
A final note. Many shop owners are installers who ventured off to open their own store. They fell in love with music and bass as a kid, and decided to make a career out of it. I can’t tell you how many times a shop owner has told me when a customer turns on his new system for the first time and grins ear to ear, it makes his day, every time.