Types of Aerial Antennas in Cars

Written by brian studwell
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Types of Aerial Antennas in Cars
An antenna sends the radio broadcast to your car's head unit. (autoradio 2 image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.com)

Radio technology as we know it today was invented in the 1930s and, shortly thereafter, was followed by the first commercially installed car radios. Since then in-car stereo has become a standard feature of modern cars. An antenna receives the radio signal and transmits it to the head unit of the stereo. The auto market has several types of antennae available today.

Internal Antennas

Internal Car Antennas are mounted on the dashboard, the windshield, or in the boot of the car. Advantages include a low profile and little risk of accidental damage. Unfortunately these antennas typically offer worse reception than their external counterparts. Prominent manufacturers of internal antennas include Terk, Garmin and Metra.

External Antennas

External Antennas function nearly identically to internals however they are usually made of a telescoping rod of metal or fibreglass. These antennae tend to have greater reception and clarity than internal models. They are, however, prone to accidental breakage and, in the case of metal, rust with subsequent performance loss. Terk and Directed Electronics are two large producers of external automobile antennas.

Types of Aerial Antennas in Cars
External antenna are often mounted on the bonnet, roof or boot making them easy to break. (communications antenna image by FotoWorx from Fotolia.com)


With the rise of XM Radio and other satellite radio services small satellite dishes and GPS units have begun to replace older AM/FM technologies in providing in-car entertainment. These miniature dishes are typically mounted to the dash. Satellite based radio services offer a wide selection of content that is theoretically always available although in practice poor weather can sometimes adversely affect reception. Satellite radio also requires a subscription as opposed to the openly available AM and FM formats.

Types of Aerial Antennas in Cars
Satellite radio, while a relatively new business, is steadily growing its market share. (satellite dish image by steveinnz from Fotolia.com)

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