An average car radio costs between $50 to $600 (£40 – £600). The more features your radio has, the more expensive it is likely to be. Basic car radios retail for around $80 (£70). More high-end models are approximately $350+ (+£300), which should include features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Basic model: $50 – $200 (£50 – £150) | High-end Model: +$350 (+£300)
There has been an evolution of the car sound system since the 5T71 got introduced by Motorola. The head unit radio represents the brain or the head of the audio system of a car. The car head unit comes at different qualities and prices. But based on various technical views and market reviews, you can buy a unit head between $50 and $600 (£40 – £600) depending on whether it is double or single-DIN. Some cost more depending on the brand and quality of features.
Questions to ask yourself before buying the radio
When searching for a suitable radio unit for your car, you need to consider some questions to know if it is worth the price. First, what is the size that will fit your vehicle? Second, what type of sound do you hope to get from your stereo? Are you interested in the latest technology? Are you more interested in quality or cost? Does it need to connect to your phone? Finally, since you are upgrading only the radio unit, are you sure it will support your current speakers?
Knowing the answers to your question will determine how much you will need to spend on your head unit and which one you should go for.
Factors that increase and decrease car radio costs
AUX and USB Ports
Steering wheel & Front / Rear Camera compatible
Lesser known brand
No Remote Control
No built-in Satnav
No Hands free features
This article covers prices in both Great British Pounds (£) and US dollars ($). The prices indicated are the cost of the product in the local market, not a conversion of the currency. This is to give the most helpful indication of product prices.
We will be splitting the car stereos into two main categories: the first being a basic car radio with limited functionality such as USB, AUX and FM / AM radio connectivity, the second being a high-end head unit radio that has many more features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
While this is not entirely true, we’ll be classing a single-DIN (slim radio) as a basic and a double-DIN (~7” Screen) as a high-end radio, as this will be the case for most people and most scenarios.
Basic - Car Radios Costing Between $50 and $200 (£50 - £150)
At this range, you should expect a radio that comes with basic functionality. Basic models are also usually thin in size and classed as a single-DIN. They give you decent sound output and are easy to control. A typical aftermarket car radio in this price range and around $100 (£99) is the Sony DSXA415BT seen in the picture. This model has all the basic features you could need from a car radio, including AUX, USB, FM radio, and even Bluetooth for hands-free connectivity like taking phone calls.
Pioneer also offer a slightly cheaper model closer to the $50 (£45) range which does not have Bluetooth. If you don’t need Bluetooth or don’t feel you won’t use it, this is an excellent option as it has the majority of the same features but half the price.
High end - Car Radios Costing +$350 (+£300)
The higher the radio costs, the more features you should expect from the car radio. When you buy an aftermarket receiver for this amount, you should expect the radio to have key features such as:
- Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
- Bluetooth Enabled
- Built-In Microphone
- FM / AM Radio
- LED Screen
- USB Charging
- Touch Screen
- Alexa, Siri and Google Voice Compatible
Some of the following specs are not commonly included in all higher-end radio models. You should consider these if you need any additional features and pick a model with the desired specification. Some of these extra features tend to add high cost to the price.
- Wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
- External Microphone
- Remote Control
- CD & DVD Player
- Standalone satellite navigation device incorporated
- Number Of Channels
- RMS Power Level
- Steering wheel control compatible
- Front and rear camera compatible
- Parking senor compatible
These higher-end models tend to be around 7” in size, which is why they are Double-DIN and enables them to pack all the additional features into the radio. These models retail from about $350 (+£300) all the way up to thousands of dollars.
You may want to consider some crucial specs, especially if your car already has many driver convenience features, is the steering wheel controls, cameras and parking sensors will hook up and be compatible with the new radio.
An example of this is the Pioneer 7″ DMH-1500NEX, which has Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and a tremendous all-around high-end head unit.
Smartphone Integration Cost Of Stereo
Car radio manufacturers now offer total smartphone integration products, known as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatible. It means that with your head unit, you will be able to play music, make phone calls and even scroll through your contacts from the receiver display.
Car radios with such features are usually more expensive and run into a few hundreds of dollars plus. In addition, Single-DIN radios don’t tend to work with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
One benefit of such a radio is that you can often integrate a mapping tool of your choice, connected via your phone. This way, you can use some of the most up-to-date maps like Google, Apple, or Waze Maps all integrated into your stereo instead of using a standalone device like a TomTom or having one already built into the stereo.
What is the difference between double-DIN and single-DIN cost?
Depending on the model, make, and year of manufacture of your car, it will either come with a double or single-DIN receiver slot.
Deutch Industri Normen or DIN for short refers to size 2” x 8”, which a radio slots into. The double-DIN and Single DIN have different costs. We have an article on the standard head unit sizes for more information on this.
Single-DIN radio receivers generally cost less than $100. You may even get some less feature-heavy models for less than $60 (£50). The installation for single DIN radios is also easier and should cost less if your hiring someone to do this for you.
Double DIN radios are larger and have a higher number of features than single DIN basic radios offers. A good double-DIN should cost around $350 (£300). You may find a lower-quality version for less than $350 (£300). The installation of the double-DIN may cost you more because of the complexity and features that may need to be integrated into the car
It suffices to say that an excellent double DIN-receiver will almost always cost more than twice as much as a single-DIN receiver.
Cost Of Buying And Installing A Stereo By Professional
Car and electronic shops will always charge a high amount for getting radios installed. Even though such expenses may not be too much, you may find some that charge between $50 and $200 depending on how much work needs to be done. Some radio systems cost up to $500 to get installed. This is because of the complex integration some stereos will require.
It’s worth noting that if you purchase your stereo from a major retailer such as BestBuy or Halfords, you can get a free fitting if you spend over $100 (£100) with them.
The core benefit of using a professional service is that the professionals have a fair idea of what they are doing, often coming with an installation warranty to give you peace of mind should anything go wrong.
This is great as an aftermarket stereo can often void a warranty, especially if you install it yourself.
We have an entire article on the average cost of the head unit installation, which details costs further.
Cost Of Buying And Installing A Stereo DIY
According to Sonic Electronix, getting the radio installed by yourself can be very cheap or even free if you have all the tools. All you may need to do is buy the required hardware, such as wires and screws. Hence, installing a radio yourself may cost you less than $30 (£20). When you add this to the cost of the stereo unit, the unit cost rise but not dramatic. Although, this depending on the type of stereo.
If you’re not very electrically or car-savvy, we wouldn’t recommend instaling a higher-end model yourself. Still, most people should be okay installing a basic single-DIN radio themselves with minimal tools.
Suppose you’re wondering how long it might take to install your stereo. In that case, we have an article on the average time it takes to install a car radio for both novice installers and professionals.
There is a car radio for your budget! You need to find the best brand and installation process that suits you. The cost of a car radio ranges from $50 to hundreds of dollars. Your choice depends on the quality, brand and features you might need.
Ensure you also consider durability and versatility of functions when buying and meets all the specs. In summary, when purchasing, don’t only look for the cheapest. Ensure that the long-term brand and reliability as a high-quality stereo will help with the resale value.