Several aspects of the automotive industry have always been embraced by hobbyists and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Being able to say that you created something with your own bare hands would make anyone feel proud. In the mobile electronics industry, carmakers have been rapidly advancing the technology used in new cars. From computer data networks and advanced vehicle construction materials to elaborate factory audio system tuning, all of these technologies present unique challenges that many people simply aren’t aware of. Failure to compensate for these can wreak havoc with your vehicle’s electrical system, damage the products you are installing or simply result in poor performance from your audio equipment.
Let’s look closely at why it’s best to put the reliability of your vehicle, and the performance of your audio equipment, in the hands of a a shop offering professional installation.
Automobile manufacturers are always striving to make their vehicles as fuel-efficient as possible while offering the latest technologies and features. One way they save weight is by putting different devices and computers on a computer data network. Rather than running a myriad of control wires from component to component, they run power and ground, and a pair of data wires. Everything from door locks and trunk release modules to ABS brake and traction control systems can talk to each other on the data network.
Where these networks pose a challenge is when you want to add or remove something from the vehicle. Say you have a vehicle that has a secondary radio display in the dash, but you want to upgrade your audio system. The display may get very upset when you take the radio away. Likewise, you typically can’t add new devices to the data network to add new features.
Your car audio specialist retailers have the experience to work with these data networks. They know what interfaces are available for options like a remote starter or backup camera integration, and they have the manufacturer support to program and install them without causing Check Engine or MIL lights.
When working on a vehicle, there are many different ways to run wires and make electrical connections. Automotive mechanics know that it’s hard to beat the knowledge and experience that a veteran car audio installer possesses when it comes to working on vehicle electrical systems. They make dozens, if not hundreds, of electrical connections each and every day.
The connections are electrically sound, offering little to no resistance to current flow. Equally, the connections are mechanically sound, ensuring that they will be at least as reliable as the factory connections, if not much better.
Finally, many shops use materials like split loom, nylon sleeves or cloth tape to protect wires as they run through the vehicle. These protective coverings also make the wiring look as if it came from the factory.
Many mobile electronics manufacturers offer extensions on their product warranties when the products are sold and installed by an authorized dealer. Authorized retailers have been trained on the features of the products they sell. In the case of high-end brands, this training often extends to techniques and methodologies that make the products sound better in your vehicle, and subsequently last longer. The proper installation and configuration of mobile electronic components is the key to their performance and reliability.
Factory audio systems are becoming more and more complicated. They still don’t rival what is available from the aftermarket, but they have improved. One big step automakers have made in the performance of their audio systems is in their tuning. More and more factory source units and amplifiers include advanced equalization and time correction to maximize the performance of the audio system. When it comes time to upgrade these systems, installers have the techniques and equipment required to test the signals going to the speakers to determine if signal correction is required. If you omit signal correction when installing a new speaker, the tuning that made a cheap factory speaker sound mediocre will work against you, and make a great speaker sound only so-so. Factory audio system signal measurement and correction is now a way of life for a car audio installer.
Modern Vehicle Chassis Design
Did you know that automakers are now using aluminum panels in the construction of their vehicles? In the ongoing battle to reduce weight, the use of aluminum will continue to increase year after year. The downside for the mobile electronics enthusiast is that aluminum is not as good a conductor of electrical current as steel is. In fact, pound for pound, it offers 30% more resistance to the flow of electrical current. This dramatically affects the amount of current we can deliver to high-power audio amplifiers.
Worse than the fact that they are using aluminum is that they have also started using structural adhesives to bond panels together. Spot welds are quick, but they only connect a small area. A good bead of 3M, Loctite or Proform structural adhesive between two aluminum panels connects the entire overlapping surface of the panel together. There is less chance of movement and less chance of corrosion. There’s a downside to this as well: These structural adhesives do not conduct electricity.
If you work with experienced installers, they know how to deal with vehicles that have aluminum chassis and/or adhesive construction. Failure to compensate for these modern construction methods could result in damaged equipment and poor performance.
Choose Professional Installation
For most people, their vehicle is their second-most expensive purchase after their homes. When it comes time to have work done, the knowledge and experience of a trained professional can help ensure that you get all the performance you want from your purchase without any of the headaches of nonprofessional installation. Contact your local car audio specialist retailer today.