Types of Car Antenna


An antenna is an electrical device that sends or receives radio or television signals through use of electromagnetic waves and frequencies. Most antennas are made of thin steel tubes, and many are telescopic, meaning they can move up or down as needed to pick up waves. As of 2010, the three antennas used in cars include internal, external and satellite varieties.

Internal Antennas

  • Internal car antennas sit inside the trunk, dashboard or the windshield of a car. Internal antennas receive better protection from weather and accidental damage, but their reception generally isn't as clear as external or satellite antennas. Installing the antenna inside the car or using an antenna with a built-in amplifier may help reception performance.

External Antennas

  • External antennas, made of metal or fiberglass, are typically installed near the hood or trunk of the car. External antennas receive better reception but are more susceptible to breakage or weather damage. External antennas sometimes come with retractors that pull the antenna into the car to protect it when not in use.

Satellite Antennas

  • Satellite antennas are the newest type of antenna used in automobiles as of 2010. The installer mounts a radio dock in the front near the windshield or in the dashboard, then wires the radio through the back or side of the car to a small magnetic antenna on the roof of the car. Satellite radio offers superior sound quality but requires a paid subscription, unlike free terrestrial stations.

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