How to Add a Satellite Radio to a Factory Stereo


Factory stereos in newer cars are often satellite-ready, meaning that all they need is a special antenna to receive satellite radio stations. Factory stereos in older cars may not have this capability. But no matter what type of factory stereo you have, you can add a satellite radio, so long as your radio can at least pick up FM broadcasts. Check the owner’s manual of your factory stereo for specific instructions on how to remove it from the dashboard of your car. If you are still unsure, ask a professional car-audio installer for advice.

Things You'll Need

  • Factory stereo
  • Owner’s manuals
  • Satellite radio unit
  • Satellite radio subscription
  • Determine what connection options your car’s factory stereo has on it. If the stereo has a sticker or symbol on it that says “XM” or “Sirius,” it will be capable of linking up with a special satellite antenna. If there are no such symbols, check the factory stereo’s manual or look at its rear plate for input options. If there is an input labeled “Aux In” or something similar, you will be able to connect a separate satellite radio via a standard audio cable. Your final option is to connect via radio-broadcast.

  • Buy the type of unit that works best for you. If your stereo has the satellite symbols, buy a special antenna unit. If you want to connect through an “Aux In,” buy a “plug-and-play” unit. If your stereo has no direct-connection options, you will need to buy a satellite unit that broadcasts on an FM frequency. All these types of units are available for purchase both online and at most major retail stores.

  • Set up the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, a special antenna will connect with the rear of your factory stereo via a special cord that comes with it. A plug-and-play unit will come with an audio cable that you connect to the "Aux In" input. Radio-broadcasting units need no cable connections; just place them as near to the factory stereo as possible.

  • Power on your factory stereo and satellite-radio unit. Many satellite units plug into the car’s cigarette lighter, which in some cars only functions when the car is running. Therefore, if your satellite unit doesn’t power on immediately, try starting your car.

  • Tune to a satellite channel. If you can hear a broadcast through the car speakers, continue to the next step. If you do not, double-check your cable connections and consult the satellite-radio unit’s installation instructions. For radio-broadcasting units, you may need to try several different FM stations before you find one that works with your car’s factory stereo.

  • Contact the satellite company to set up an account. Specific instructions for how to subscribe come with your satellite-radio unit.

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