Why is it so hard to find a good auto audio installer?

Discussion in 'The OT' started by wilbur_the_goose, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. wilbur_the_goose

    wilbur_the_goose Hall Of Fame

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    I purchased a new (used) car and wanted to upgrade the speakers, amp, and perhaps subwoofer. You'd think it'd be easy, but I couldn't find anybody that seemed professional. A lot of kids or folks that I really wouldn't feel good with letting them tear apart my car.

    Companies like Best Buy are clueless too.

    Aren't there any good installers out there? (I'm in the western 'burbs of Philly)
     
  2. matt

    matt New Member

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    Welcome to the world of 12 volts. Any idiot with a wire splice kit from walmart thinks they are a car audio installer.

    I know an excellent company here that does the real high end stuff on $x00,000 cars and boats if you don't mind the short drive. :)
     
  3. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset DBSTalk Club

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    There are a number of problems:

    1. Many of the new factory systems are good enough
    2. Nobody's buying in this economy
    3. The adapter kits to mount the head unit and utilize the car's own wiring cost as much or more than the electronics

    I'd suggest looking up a local custom car shop and see if you can't dig up some recommendations. A few of the guys that used to install stereos are now doing lighting, powered doors and remoting gauges.
     
  4. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

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    I would suggest that you be open to letting an individual do the upgrades for you, even if they do it as a hobby. Many people like that really take pride in a good install. I wouldn't grab just anyone off the street, though. Ask around and you may find a friend of a friend who really enjoys doing upgrades and can do them well.
     
  5. naijai

    naijai Hall Of Fame

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    I'd go with what durl said ask & look around
    Depending on the year of the car you may need to head to a custom shop because of some adapters aren't easy to install especially if you have navigation so patience and research
     
  6. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    4. People who do quality work expect to get paid well to do so. Most people don't want to pay *anything* for an installation (much like satellite TV), so most places have free or discounted installs and hire kids armed with butt connectors and crimpers to do the installs. You'll need to find an independent shop, not a big box store, if you want someone who knows something.
     
  7. ProfLonghair

    ProfLonghair Hall Of Fame

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    CMH
    Depending on what you drive, there is probably some online forum for that type of car's owners where you can usually get good advice. Even if it's a beater, most will still be able to give good installer advice regardless of brand. For example, www.lxforums.com for Chrysler LX platform cars has been pretty good to me (I own a Charger).

    Have you tried asking the dealer? Even if they don't install after market stereos, they probably know someone else who will.
     
  8. ProfLonghair

    ProfLonghair Hall Of Fame

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    he he he.... you said "butt connectors"
     
  9. matt

    matt New Member

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    I might use my nice klein crimpers in a pinch (haha!) but yeah, I love this kind, found on every bench in the shop at most car audio places:
    [​IMG]

    Here's a good way to tell if a shop if quality or not; go out in the bays and look for these laying around:
    [​IMG]
    If you see any, leave. If you see (quality, like Weller) soldering irons at each station along with a heat gun, you might be okay.

    You want something like this:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. wilbur_the_goose

    wilbur_the_goose Hall Of Fame

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    I have an '07 BMW 328i sedan.
     
  11. chevyguy559

    chevyguy559 Fresno State Bulldog!

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    Have you tried www.crutchfield.com? They are usually a little higher priced, but they include detailed instructions and depending on the adapter needed, sometimes throw the wiring harnesses in free....they also sell "install cards" that you take to pre-screened installers to have your equipment installed.
     
  12. roadrunner1782

    roadrunner1782 Icon

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    I would look for an actual car customizing stereo shop. I used to work at Best Buy doing installs and left because of the young know-it-alls. Plus they don't do the caliber of work I am capable of so I left. Started working a regular 9 to 5 and do my own installs from my home. I will say when trying to find a good installer ask if they are M.E.C.P. certified and see if they really know there stuff. A good installer does and knows more than how to connect like colored wires on a harness for a stereo. I f you decide to tackle the job yourself I will help you in any way I can, just ask.
     
  13. Carl Spock

    Carl Spock Superfly

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    wilbur, I owned a car audio installation shop for over twenty years. It all gets down to the personel. One, it tends to be a young man's game. You have to be young to want to work upside down under a dash. Two, it's an entry level job. You have kids doing install that have no idea of what customer service is. Three, it's very rare to find someone who is both a good technician and is good with people. Most folks are one or the other.

    This said, people up thread are right. Go to a custom shop near you - even medium sized (75,000) town generally has one or two. Find an installer who is in his late twenties or early thirties. They are out there. Build a personal relationship with this guy, getting his help designing a system to meet your needs. You'll be happy with the result.

    This won't be your cheapest option. But you will get a job that doesn't use duct tape as a structural material.
     
  14. RasputinAXP

    RasputinAXP Kwisatz Haderach of Cordcuttery

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    If you have a day to devote to doing it, I highly recommend Crutchfield as well. I buy all of my head units from them because I have the need (as many on this board do, I'm sure) to do it myself because I don't want just any young punk putting his grubby mitts on my car. :p

    I've installed head units in my '85 Subaru wagon, '85 Volvo wagon, my wife's '01 Civic coupe and my '02 Lancer sedan. Guess which one gave me the most trouble.

    The '85 Volvo wagon. Turns out I had a 1985.5 model, which constituted maybe 5% of the 1985 DL wagons. Crutchfield's faceplate kit didn't work and after they researched it with me on the phone for 10 minutes they offered to send me to a custom shop for free to take care of it for me. I politely declined, thanked them for the offer and (true to form) created my own mount kit for it out of the old (awful) head unit.

    The Subaru was its own challenge because it was my first, I followed the wiring directions as best I could, and I backwired all of my dashboard lights into it. *sigh*

    Go Crutchfield. :)
     
  15. wilbur_the_goose

    wilbur_the_goose Hall Of Fame

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    Carl,
    Any idea how I'd go about finding a custom shop near me? I'm kind of clueless as to how to proceed.

    Home theater - no problem. 12 volt - I'm clueless.

    RasputinAXP,
    I'm 50, and the thought of tearing apart my BMW scares the heck out of me. When I was 20 working on my Mercury Comet, no sweat - it was fun. But these days are different, and I just don't trust myself.
    ------------------

    PS - It's a BMW - Have you ever worked with a BMW stealership? Somehow I really doubt they'd give me advice. They're not as bad as the local Audi dealers, but they definitely have an snooty attitude (don't know why - it's just a friggin' car! :) )
     
  16. Carl Spock

    Carl Spock Superfly

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    As little as ten years ago, I would have said look in the yellow pages. It still might be a good source but it's not as all powerful today.

    You almost have to find the buzz. Know any high school seniors in your area? Ask them if they had all the money in the world, where would they go for car stereo equipment and installation.

    There is unfortunately no trade show or trade organization for just car electronics, and manufacturers are very closed when it comes to revealing their dealer lists. It gives the competition something to shoot at.

    You might want to try and put in some names in Google and see what turns up. Try Alpine or Kenwood or Directed Electronics and your town. None of these are real high-end names but instead will be bread and butter for a custom shop, and might well be what ends up in your car.
     
  17. Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    Try superpages.com and enter auto stereo installation in the search box.
     
  18. roadrunner1782

    roadrunner1782 Icon

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  19. RasputinAXP

    RasputinAXP Kwisatz Haderach of Cordcuttery

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    Crutchfield gives you the best instructions and diagrams in the business. Photos, teardowns, and you call them for help for free.

    It says BMW on the logo, but on the inside it's just 4 screws and a harness. :p
     
  20. Carl Spock

    Carl Spock Superfly

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    I'd disagree about a BMW being just four screws and a harness. German cars, Mercedes, Audis and BMWs especially, are tough. They are put together better than Japanese and American cars. They use more steel and everything is a tighter fit. Unless you are an experienced installer, a German car is not a piece of cake.

    Seems like they'd be worth a stop. A shop like this is what you are looking for, wilbur.
     

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