How To: Install a Satellite Car Radio

Making the Wires Disappear

After everything is in place and set up and you get good reception, you still have a car that has wires all over the place. So now, it’s time to hide them. It is a tedious task, but an easy one.

Follow the wires from the source to the destination and look for seams where they can be tucked in. Every place where two pieces of plastic meet is an opportunity to hide wires.

For example, much of the antenna wire can be inserted in a space between the windshield and dashboard, while other wires can be slipped between the dash and the car’s front pillar, a doorway seam, or where the center console meets the underside of the dashboard.

I like to use a tongue depressor to gently press a wire into a seam until it disappears, but you can use a thin piece of wood or plastic. Don’t have a tongue depressor? Try a thin piece of plastic or take a piece of wood–the harder the better—and shave it down to about 1/4 of an inch thick with a plane or sandpaper. Voila, you’re ready to do cable magic. Don’t use a knife or screwdriver because you might damage your interior or the wires.

If you’ve found a tough spot where you can’t figure out where to stuff a wire, be imaginative and try rerouting it a different way. For instance, I ran the audio cable in the glove box through the light housing so that it emerged under the glove box. It took me awhile to figure it out, but it works.

At some point you’ll probably end up with a large coil of wire that needs to do a disappearing act. You can get it out of sight under one of the seats or, as I did, under the glove compartment. My car has two screws that loosen a flexible plastic cover under the glove compartment that’s perfect for stashing the wires. Just use a wire wrap or a tie wrap to keep the coil from getting sloppy.

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  • mpasternak
    This article over complicates a rather simple easy and straight forward task.
    Simply put, Anyone in the market for a newer Sattelite radio will easily be able to purchase an "all in one" kit that will come with mounts and the wires necessary to do this, with easy instructions (that all fit on one page! imagine that!)

    Most will come with suction based mounts that easily clip on to your dash / windshield just like any standard GPS. No need for complicated mounts. The wires can all be easily routed within the cars pre exiting body panels. just get a flat head screwdriver to lift them slightly and push the wires in (carefull, don't crimp / fray em)

    If there is any concern with needing a 2nd power outlet. I recommend buying a splitter. they exist. They are cheap and they do not modify your car electronics in any form and therefore won't possibly void warranties.

    And ALL the modern car / mobile based radios should come with a built in FM transmitter. Just set the station, set your radio to it, and voila.
  • MrHorspwer
    Cut Brian some slack. He didn't go the "simple, easy, straight forward" installation because, frankly, that way looks like crap.

    Suction cup mounts and random cigarette lighter adapters clutter up an interior and generally look lame, nevermind the crap sound quality you get from an FM modulator.

    I'm with Brian. Buy a vehicle specific mount, wire up an extra power source and tuck it out of sight, use the audio jack provided by the factory for the best sound quality, and keep the unsightly pimple antenna on the inside. Ta-da... probably the least intrusive install you can expect from an add-on piece of audio equipment.

    Then again, that looks like a pretty pricey German car. Why didn't it just come as standard equipment? Hell, every new Hyundai comes standard with satellite radio.

    Gotta put in a plug for the Jason Ellis Show. 3:00 PM ET on Faction - Sirus 28/XM 52. Red Dragons!
  • michaelahess
    If you can't install an XM radio in your car without this kind of help, you probably shouldn't be driving in the first place, it's far more complicated.

    Also, just to rant, having a radio in each vehicle is down right stupid, and a waste of money; likewise paying for integrated radio's. Unless you only have one vehicle and NEVER intend to use it elsewhere, why throw your money away? I've got a mount in all three of my vehicles that I've wired the antenna's, power, and audio cable to. Takes about 10 seconds to drop my radio into any of the vehicles and it's a nice clean install. Aftermarket stereo's with a 3.5mm input certainly help.

    I then have a "portable" antenna with FM transmitter for taking the radio in friends cars or running it off my battery powered inverters when camping.
  • Parrdacc
    What I don't get is the $400 and up dollars dealers charge for some of these radios. I wish I had the option to just not have a radio in my car when I buy it. I do not know about other people, but I always replace the factory radio and speakers for ones that are better anyway.
  • captaincharisma
    satellite radio to me is only good where there is not many (or good) radio stations. i felt the same way before i tried it and never looked back. i like it because you get to listen to any music genre at any time you want. and you can't do that with FM radio. and the talk radio is good for sports and comedy (hoard stern & O&A as examples)

    anyway i like a clean integrated look so i got a kenwood deck and installed the tuner from Sirius. if i want to listen to it in my house i just use my internet account

    Parrdacc i too replace the stock radio when i get a new car but even if you do not have a factory radio you still would have to pay for a wiring harness (maybe) and dash kit anyway. its getting bad in cars today as they integrate the stock radio in other functions of the car Mazda and Ford are example's of this.
  • tjhart85
    @mpasternak It all depends on the look & feel you want. I would NEVER do what you suggest for anything more than a temp mount job....It looks horrible!My units are always hard wired in with an extra fuse (similar to how Brian did this) and wires completely hidden.

    Otherwise, what's the point? Honestly.

    Satellite radio plays pretty much any type of music you'd want with no commercials. They also get paid by your dollar, so they don't just play the crap that the MPAA wants radio stations to play, the DJs get to make choices play stuff a radio station wouldn't (uncut music for one....LONG songs for another). For example, I've heard NOFX - Please Play This Song on the Radio which would NEVER get played on FM!

    More importantly than that though, the music stays the same wherever you go. For me, if I go more than 30 miles, most of my stations are gone. Sucks!
  • mantismn
    Okay, so I've been doing car install professionally for about 7 years now, and that SureConnect is a pile of garbage. It works on maybe half the cars out there, and on those few, it works like crap. As far as the satellite antenna on the dash board; unless it's a Sirius unit, good luck keeping a decent signal. Running it out of the window or sunroof is just a bad idea because you're just asking to have the wire crimped or cut, and poof, there goes your antenna and $30 to $40 for a replacement. The suction cups that come with the units are a waste of time if you live anywhere north of Missouri because once they get cold, plop goes your radio, hopefully not cracking the screen on the shifter or dash. The vent clips work, I've used them, but they're not pretty and they're not that stable. Usually the unit has quite a bit of play and bounces around while you drive. I understand the point of this article.... just my .02...
  • wildwell
    Naturally, the more thought out and intricate the installation, the more attractive the final product. I think Brian did a great job of describing a nice, clean install that doesn't require fabrication and lots of cutting and permanent interior damage.
  • AtuBrian
    so simple task he makes complicated