Advice Articles

To Install or Not to Install

Once you’ve picked out your electronics, you have to decide whether you are going to install them yourself, or let a professional installer do it. Maybe you’re handy with small repairs, or maybe the thought of installing speakers yourself seems daunting but you don’t know what qualities to look for in a professional installer. Here’s some help.

The Pros of Pros

If you have any doubts, save yourself lots of grief and use a pro. Cars are more complicated today than ever before. Even basic models are packed with computer controls. Today’s state of the art upgrades, audio systems, navigation systems, even DVD systems, and their operating systems are interlaced in delicate and intricate ways.

Meddling with these critical systems can shorten the life of your vehicle and even endanger your life. Electrical problems, unseen shorts, wire deterioration, structural changes and loose connections could become safety issues.

Before you decide to let anyone work on your car, check his or her credentials. The Mobile Electronics Certification Program (MECP) administers a written test on the science and installation of car sound. Make sure your installer is MECP certified. Are they an ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified mechanic? Ask.

Check references as well. Ask to see examples of previous installs and speak with previous customers. Deciding on a professional installer is a lot like finding a reliable contractor or plumber.

Power Tools don’t Frighten You

If you’re good with minor repairs, like changing your spark plugs, you probably won’t be intimidated by installing a sound system and you might consider doing it yourself.

There are lots of good reasons to self-install. If you’ve got the time, and enjoy the challenge, doing the install yourself might be pretty exciting. Customizing your own car is a great way to express your creativity. Poking around in the interior of your car makes you, well, “intimate” with your automobile.

Manufacturers and retailers are usually very helpful when it comes to DIY installs. Rely on them for parts, wiring harnesses, tips, templates and general good advice. Like this:

Avoid some of the pitfalls of doing-it-yourself simply by keeping some common-sense guidelines in mind:

  • Read the instructions completely before you begin.
  • Don’t take your car apart until you’re certain you have all the tools you’ll need to put it back together again.
  • Avoid unnecessary discharge: disconnect the negative battery cable before you begin.
  • Protect your upholstery with a drop cloth, and don’t carry tools in your back pockets!
  • Give yourself plenty of time, don’t rush, never force anything.
  • When in doubt, stop and ask directions. Reread the instructions.

This article was last modified Aug 29, 2014

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