In recent years, drivers have found themselves spending more time in the car. This makes the car entertainment system essential for providing information and comfort. FM stations, just like many other car information systems, are wireless and therefore require a good signal to operate correctly.
The car antenna will provide a good signal for your favorite FM stations and improve your car aesthetics. While buying a new antenna for your car, you may wonder whether antennas are brand-specific or universal.
Most car antennas are universal, meaning you can use them in almost any standard antenna connection. However, other brands like Nissan, VW, and GM will need an adapter to connect to universal antennas.
Types of Car Antennas
There are three main types of car antennas and they include internal, external, and satellite antennas.
These antennas are also called stealth antennas, and they sit inside the car either on the dashboard, windshield, or trunk. Stealth antennas are well protected against wind and other destructive weather conditions, but their signal reception is not as good as external antennas.
They can last for a long time if they are left undisturbed. Moreover, internal antennas are super easy to install compared to other types.
External antennas are installed on the exterior surfaces like the trunk or hood as opposed to internal antennas. They receive the better signal but are exposed to unpredictable weather conditions that can cause damage.
For this reason, they usually come with retractors to pull them when not in use.
Satellite antennas are considered the best and newest. They include a radio dock on the dashboard or near the windshield and wires connecting it to an almost unnoticeable antenna on the car’s roof.
How to Choose the Right Car Antenna
With extended use, your car antenna will need a replacement. Whether you want to upgrade or replace a damaged one, ensure to get your hands on a better product that will provide exceptional service for a long time.
If your signal is no longer at its best, you should access it to see if there is any other problem affecting the signal. Start by checking the cable that connects your antenna to the radio unit. If it’s loose or has rust, deal with it first. But if intact, proceed to test on the antenna mast.
Rotate it with your radio on and see if there are any changes. If you notice changes and the signal is working again, fasten it, and you could have solved your problem. If you don’t notice any changes, it’s a sign you need a replacement antenna. Here are some features and considerations to help you make a good decision as you look for one.
The material you choose should provide a good quality signal, be durable and be wash proof. A combination of steel, rubber, and plastic works great. Steel is strong and durable, while rubber and plastic make the antennas rugged and waterproof. Such antenna, even if on the outside of the car, will withstand weather conditions and signal interruptions.
The design and build of an antenna are also important when choosing a good antenna. Bullet-style design is preferred over mast ones by many because they are durable and relevant these days.
Ease of installation
While choosing an antenna, it’s essential to consider how much work and frustration you will incur during installation. Internal antennas should be easy to install since they don’t want any permanent modification to your car. External ones may require you to drill a hole on the side of your car, which may not be easy. By getting an easy-to-install antenna, you will avoid much frustration or even causing damage to other parts during installation.
The world is becoming more and more connected, and so is customer support. Good and reputable companies have excellent customer support that will help you quickly if you run into a problem.
Durability is essential in any product that you want to buy. Antennas equally should be durable. Look at the building materials and design. If there are metal parts of the antenna exposed, the antenna will deteriorate with ease when it meets water and other weather elements.
The primary purpose of any antenna is signal reception. Therefore, this should be the first feature to look at. Whichever antenna you choose, it should provide excellent signal receptions.
The range is similar to radio reception, but in this case, it will depend on where you want to drive your vehicle. If you drive mostly in off-grid or marine areas, you may want an antenna with a good range.
How do I Know My Car Requires a New Antenna?
It isn’t easy to know if you need a new antenna while working with FM than AM. FM can pick up a good signal even without an antenna.
If you search a station in AM and find none, it may be a sign that something is wrong with your antenna. However, before you buy, tune your radio to a station, grab the mast and turn it gently at the base. If the signal pops in and out, it’s a sign that the antenna is okay and only needs fastening.
But, if nothing happens as you turn it, then a replacement is necessary. Stock antennas will require a replacement only after four to six years. The period can be even shorter if you live near the ocean due to saltwater that accelerates rusting and corrosion.
Does an Antenna Booster Improve Radio Reception?
Yes. An antenna booster will be an excellent option for a radio reception that is already good on some stations. If the signal is poor in almost all stations, then the problems may be the antenna or the tuner, in which case a booster won’t help.
When the signal is generally bad, you should check your radio and antenna. Do the rotation test as discussed above. If it works, fasten it, and you may consider getting a booster. But it doesn’t work; you should look for a suitable antenna instead of a booster.
How can I improve the Signal On my Car?
There is a whole lot of options to try to improve the radio signal; Get a Signal Booster – If your antenna and the head unit are working well, but you are getting a weak signal, then you need to install a signal booster.
Check the Antenna Connection – This should be the first thing you should look at in case of a wrong signal. Ensure the mast is correctly fitted on the trunk and all the connections are not loose.
If everything is okay but no signal at all, you may want to do away with your antenna and get a new one. In a case where everything seems okay but has no signal, you can consult a technician who can help you identify the problem.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.