How much does it cost to install a car sound system?


The question, “how much does it cost to install a sound system in a car” is a fairly popular one because audiophiles always like to make tweaks to the existing system. Plus, the factor equipment isn’t all that impressive to begin with. So, here’s what you need to know to upgrade your car.

How Much Does It Cost to Upgrade Car Audio?

When it comes to upgrading your car audio system, you need to look at several individual components that make up the system. We will look at the biggest contributors and see what your car sound system installation cost will be like once you start the process of upgrading your existing system. Take a look.

1.     Better Sound: Receiver

Your first move should be to take a good look at the head unit which is also called the receiver. This is possibly the most crucial component of the car audio system. The head unit has an impact on all the other parts which means you need a high-quality unit presumably something that is also budget friendly.

There are plenty of good receiver options in the market that range from $200 to $1,600. So, it really depends on how far you are willing to go.

A good receiver will improve the sound system by giving it more power. This helps the speakers maintain their performance no matter the volume level. Now, your receiver is also the one that gives you the choice to connect to your CD collection or an iPod or internet radio.

That is something you need to factor in while looking for options. And almost all of them come with a hand-free phone calling option thanks to basic Bluetooth technology.

2.   Better Quality Audio: Speakers

The second factor in the process of figuring out your car audio system installation cost requires you to take speakers into account. This is often thought of as the first step when it comes to an upgrade. That’s because speakers are an important part of the output sound and older car models don’t come with the best equipment in this respect.

You have two options when it comes to upgrading your car’s audio system. You can get high-quality sound output by replacing only the existing speakers with better models or by purchasing a full component system.

This includes subs, tweeters and crossovers. It is not the cheapest option but it will save you the hassle of having to research individual components.

But if you are a stickler for specifics, here’s what you must know. The receiver gives your system more power but if you are an audiophile, picking speakers individually is known to provide a greater level of satisfaction.

You must start by looking at aftermarket speaker models. These are good for four-door vehicles because they are made to be placed anywhere in the vehicle. That’s because today, speakers come in many different shapes and sizes.

3.   More Power: Amplifiers

The third step is to identify an amplifier. Your car comes with a stereo and an internal amplifier but an external amp is the component that adds to the power and the sound quality of your car audio system.

A range of them are available in the market and a good one is available for about $150.

By adding an amplifier to the system, you help the speaker handle more power and reach its potential. The amp gives the system more clarity and you will never miss the details in the music you are listening to.

A 4-channel amplifier is highly recommended for those who want to add power to the car speakers in the front and back. You might also want to add a subwoofer to power the rear channels of the amplifier.

4.   More or Better Bass: Subwoofers

Then you need a powerful subwoofer or a sub. You can either get one sub or two budget-friendly ones if the price is a factor. You will find a bunch of options that start for less than $100 but go a lot higher up than that.

You must also think about getting an enclosure if your car is not designed to hold a sub efficiently. But there are ways to make an enclosure yourself if you want to keep the budget under control.

Getting a good sub is actually an exciting research project for those who are keen on their car sound system installation. This is a big step forward in getting the most bass out of the rest of your equipment. Even if it’s not all about the bass, you will have a good time adding a little depth to your music output.

5.   Dedicated Amp for the Sub

If you are looking for more of a thump from your subwoofer, you will need to have a dedicated amplifier to power it. This will give your sub the required power that can take the sub to the finish line. For these purposes, you will need a mono amplifier. It will also help you reduce vibrations if your subwoofer is placed in the trunk.

Total Cost

It is hard to have a specific answer or even a range for the question of how much does a sound system cost because you might go budget-friendly for one component and splurge on the other.

But experts say that is not the best way to go about it because you need all the pieces of the puzzle to fit properly. The pricing is logical and based on what other components a particular piece can work with.

So, you might be able to get a decent system for a few hundred dollars or get one of the best systems for a few thousand dollars.

Safety Precautions – Cost to Install a Sound System in a Car

Now, whether you get a super expensive audio system or a high-quality but budget-friendly one, you will have to take some precautions while installing the unit.

This is applicable whether you buy the system as a kit or buy each item individually. You have the option of getting a professional to install it for you or you can do it yourself.

Since DIY has become commonplace even for electrical work that used to be left to professionals, here is a list of things you need to keep in mind so that you get the installation right.

1.     Check the Decibel Levels

You need to be careful with the volume because depending on the power of the equipment and the longevity of exposure to high-volume music, you will run the risk of hearing loss. There is only so much your ears can take before there is permanent damage. This is applicable when you are running tests too.

2.   Use Power Tools Carefully

You will need power tools during some steps like your car speakers installation. You want to make sure that you know how to use them because otherwise it might damage the equipment and hurt you.

This means looking at the instruction manual to make sure you understand safety precautions. You also need to wear protective gear like gloves and even glasses for some.

3.   Secure Your Equipment

You also need to make sure that the equipment you install is not placed such that it causes inconvenience to your passengers or is harmed by environmental factors.

4.   Avoid Distractions

This one is more about using the audio system than installing it. When you have new equipment, you will be tempted to operate it all the time. This includes the time you are on the road and that can be extremely dangerous.

One of the ways to ensure that operating your audio system doesn’t cause problems is to have a head unit that has an easy layout. You also want to get a unit that does not have very small buttons because it is not always easy to get that right when you are driving.

Then you should make sure that you go over the user manual or play with the functions enough before you are on the road so that you can operate them without grasping for the right button when you need to.

The buttons for volume, changing tracks and tuning the radio are at the top of this list. These are things you will get used to over time but it is always a bright idea to be careful in the beginning.


Q: How Much Is Labor to Install a Radio in a Car?

A: When it comes to determining the average cost of car stereo installation, you will need to be prepared for anything from $70 to $90 an hour. This is the standard range for an auto shop. Dealerships will charge you a little more, falling in the range of $80 to $120 per hour. Some retailers like Walmart and BestBuy also do stereo installations for a flat fee that is about $100.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Have Bluetooth Installed in Your Car?

A: This is nothing to worry about because the range is quite flexible. It is easily accessible technology that can be added to your car system for $150 to $300. But this does not include the installation of the part.

Q: Can You Install Bluetooth in an Old Car?

A: Yes, these are available in kits and they can add value to an older model.

The Bottom Line

Installing new equipment in your car can cost as much or as little as you let it. This is because it depends on the equipment you want to replace or add to the audio system.

But once you get the job done, your music experience will go to a whole new level even with budget-friendly components.

Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Danny Reid

Hey, I'm Danny, and I know how hard it can be to find the perfect audio gear. Need a new stereo, amp, speakers, or subs? Don't worry – my blog is here to help you cut through the noise! My mission is to give you the best reviews, so you can make the right decision for your audio needs. And if you ever get stuck thinking, "Where does this blue wire go?" don't worry – I've got tons of cool tips to help you out of any jam. So come along with me on this fun, sound-filled adventure, and let's find the perfect audio setup to make your tunes really sing!