How to improve car radio reception

Written by chris moore
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How to improve car radio reception
Standard car radios don't have powerful antennae. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

The reception on your car radio can be a problem at times, especially if you're trying to tune a station that doesn't have the highest power and range. Tall city buildings and overpasses can interfere with signals, along with being too far or even too close to the signal's transmission. Most of the time, the stock antenna and tuner installed in your car aren't of the best quality to get you the best radio reception. But there are a number of steps and devices that can greatly improve your car radio's reception.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Change the antenna on your car. An aftermarket antenna can often produce higher-quality reception than the manufacturer's stock antenna (see Resources below).

  2. 2

    Place your antenna as far away from the engine as possible, especially if you are installing one that needs mounting instead of just placing it on the old antenna mount. The engine's electrical discharge can cause interference, which is why many stick-type antennas are mounted near the boot.

  3. 3

    Install a signal booster to the radio or amplifier to increase its range (see Resources). These boosters don't always work well in urban areas because they won't help with interference from buildings.

  4. 4

    Replace the radio tuner with a high-definition one (see Resources). This system uses "diversity tuning" with two antennae, alternating between the two antennae and using the one with the best reception at the precise moment.

  5. 5

    Mount any booster or amplifier you install as far away from the antenna as you can, since their power supplies can also emit high-frequency waves that will interfere with radio reception.

  6. 6

    Find the best place on your vehicle to route the cables connecting these devices. This can vary depending on the vehicle, but keep them away from the engine, power amplifiers, on-board computer and power wires. Wrap the connection between the cable and tuner receptacle in electrical tape; this keeps the plug's metal shell from touching the car's chassis.

  7. 7

    Make sure your antenna's ground is in the best spot possible. See that the metal spot you use (usually on the chassis) has no paint or corrosion at the exact location. Coat the exposed metal area with silicone glue or grease after grounding the wire to prevent corrosion and oxidation.

Tips and warnings

  • HD radio systems, boosters and aftermarket antennas can all be found at stores with base locations like CarToys or vendors specialising in online sales like Crutchfield and Calibex.

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