• Image Credit: Parrot

When your car's original stereo stops working or you're ready for something a bit more modern, choosing the best aftermarket replacement can be a complicated process.

The reality is that you don't have to buy a brand new car to get some of the most recent in-demand technology. In fact, aftermarket systems are often far superior to the default one provided by the automaker. These modern aftermarket stereos have more features than ever before, and choosing the right deck can make a huge difference when it comes to your listening experience. 

Here are five basic tips that will help guide you through the purchase and installation process.

Stan Markuze is the founder of PartMyRide.com, the online marketplace for original used auto parts.

Compare Different Brands
  • Image Credit: Getty Editorial

Compare Different Brands

We all have our favorite brands. We associate good brands with quality and long-term reliability. However, the electronics brand that makes the best TVs might not make the best car stereos. When you are looking for a new deck, make sure to compare a handful of different manufacturers to make sure you are getting the best features at the best value.

CarsDirect provides a list of the top six aftermarket car stereo brands. You can also check out a site like Best Buy to see a rundown of all of your options. Although it may seem a bit overwhelming, we'll help you narrow it down in the following slides.
Make A List Of Necessary Features
  • Image Credit: Parrot

Make A List Of Necessary Features

Installing a stereo that is missing a key feature can be a huge disappointment. Before you start comparing different stereo options, make a list of features that are important to you. These can include bluetooth integration for making phone calls, Pandora integration for listening to internet radio, or adjustable color scheme to match your instrument gauge cluster. As you start comparing different units, you can add additional features to the list.

CNET has a good roundup of some of the top aftermarket stereo systems for you app lovers. Their picks are from brands like Parrot, Sony and Pioneer.
Think Long Term
  • Image Credit: Flickr

Think Long Term

It's easy to get caught up in small price differences between similar decks. You might find a great deal on a unit that doesn't have all of the functionality you need and be tempted to buy it. It's important to remember that you could be using that deck for many years and the minor savings could result in the long-term inconvenience of missing an important feature.
Read Buyer Reviews
  • Image Credit: Amazon

Read Buyer Reviews

It's hard to determine a product's quality by simply viewing it online or in a stereo shop. That's why it's important to read reviews from people who have purchased that exact deck and have spent some time using it.

Websites like Amazon are great sources of detailed reviews from real unbiased buyers. You can also check out car audio forums like the aptly named Car Audio Forum.
Get Professional Installation
  • Image Credit: Associated Press

Get Professional Installation

Too often, a friend who has installed a stereo once or has watched a video on YouTube will offer to help you, or to install your stereo for a low price. Be wary - installation is different on every type of vehicle and improper installation can damage your vehicle's wiring or electrical system. Make sure your installer is qualified and save yourself a headache.


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