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Aftermarket Navigation Units: What You Should Know Before You Buy One

Published Feb 1st 2007, 7:19pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Breannecar_3 We recently received a question from a woman who was interested in learning more about how to install a navigation unit into her Acura RSX.  She wanted to know what to look for in a unit and what the benefits were, as well as how to know she wasn't going to get ripped off! She was in so much luck and she didn't even know it.  It made me realize there are probably a lot of your women out there who would like the same tips!

Avicd1_1I just installed a Pioneer AVIC-D1 into my 2005 RSX-S. The Pioneer system I installed is actually not their most recent one. They have a D2 and N1 as well now. There are some key things to know about your car when looking to install a unit.

1) Is your car considered Single DIN or Double DIN?
And maybe you just want to do a dash-mounted one or a portable system. Decide this first. Here is a great explanation of what DIN means from LogJam Electronics:
"DIN, DIN-1/2 and Double-DIN refers to the physical size of the radio’s height when looking straight at the face plate of the radio. DIN or single-DIN, refers to what would be called a standard height or single slot radio found in most vehicles from the mid-sixties on, and is the standard height of most after-market radios. DIN-1/2 (DIN and a half) sized radios refer to a radio that is one and one half the size of a standard DIN-sized radio. Most newer GM and Chrysler vehicles now have DIN-1/2 sized radios installed as their standard factory radio. Double-DIN radios are radios that are twice the height of a single DIN radio. Typically, these radios will have both a cassette player and a CD player in the radio, which is one of the reasons why the extra height is needed. Many newer Ford, Honda, Toyota and several other imported vehicles have double-DIN sized radios installed."

2) Know what you want in a nav system. For example, do you want to be able to play CDs and keep the navi disc still in the unit, so you don't have to do the switcheroo all the time?
Do you want a large screen? Do you want the system to have available XM NavTraffic info? (My AVIC does and it is great. It tells you traffic reports up ahead on your route, but you do have to subscribe). Do you want it to be XM or SIRIUS radio capable?

3) Know your budget. Navi systems range in price from $400 to $1000s so know what you want to spend there and look at the options. Remember to keep in mind the cost for any accessories and installation, unless you plan to do this yourself.

Xm_tuner 4) Figure out what accessories you will need for your unit. For example, with most units, you will need a replacement dash kit (the plate that goes around the new navi unit so it is flush and blends into your dashboard). You might also need a separate receiver if you are doing XM or XM NavTraffic (as I did). This can vary in price, depending on the manufacturer.

5) Research your products online. Look for forums or head to for consumer opinions on certain products. Or even head to your local audio system store and talk to someone there about the features you want. Be sure that what you are getting is what you want.
Installation is just as important as the unit. I live in Orange County, California and prices here are higher than the moon (for homes, cars, hair color, you name it!). I paid about $335 dollars for installation at a local Al & Ed's Autosound. Here is what that included:
- Installation of nav unit
- Dash Kit piece
- Installation of XM /NavTraffic Tuner (they put it under my passenger seat and you would never know it is there)

Cheaper is not always better. A friend I know installed the exact same unit into his Honda and paid $250 and the tech left wires out and his toolbox in the car.

To know you are getting a good deal, check with a few places first and get price quotes. You can always look up companies at Better Business Bureau to see if they have consumer complaints listed against them. The best way to find a great shop is to ask a trusted friend who has done similar work. That is how I found out about my tinting place as well and I am extremely happy with the results on that, as I am with the nav installation.

Check out ASE certified shops and see if they will do the install or if they know someone who will that is reputable. You can find an ASE certified shop near you by going here.

Dscn1425 People sometimes want to sell the stock system and that is okay, just make sure you let people know it was used and for how long. They can still fetch a decent  price. Also keep in mind that in some cases, if you ever sell your car, you might get more for it if you still have the factory unit.

Also check out all the random information LogJam Electronics has on their site, including warranty info, satellite radio options and tech answers.

by Breanne Boyle
eMarketing Manager
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