Digital radio – your questions answered - Can I update my car - and who'll do it?
Thankfully, yes. There are already several options for those who want to make their car digital-friendly. Naturally, you can go for a new head unit with DAB radio included, but there are alternatives for people that don’t want to do this.
One option is to fit a small supplementary box to your dash. Pure Radio’s new Highway 300Di adapter, for example, uses a small box that sits in the glovebox or footwell and plugs into the back of the existing radio via the aerial or auxiliary input sockets. It’ll cost you £179.99 (fitting is included from Halfords until the end of the year, after which it will cost £24.99), so it isn’t cheap. However, it’s easy to use, unobtrusive and doesn’t drastically change the look of the car.
If you want a set-up that integrates entirely with the existing system, there are options such as the Celsus MediaDAB. This can even be controlled through your car’s steering wheel controls. Take a deep breath, though, because it’ll cost you £399 plus fitting (around £80).
Car manufacturers are also getting in on the act by offering retro-fitting of digital radio. Alfa Romeo and Vauxhall both say they can install digital into existing cars.
Who can I trust to fit it?
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ Paul Everitt has suggested that digital radios and the engineers that fit them could have to meet quality standards.
‘We must ensure that cars get safe, reliable upgrades undertaken by accredited technicians,’ he said. He suggested that the SMMT is considering implementing an accreditation system similar to Motor Codes, which requires MoT and service stations to be up to standard. This is just one of the reasons why consumers shouldn’t feel they have anything to worry about, both now and when the switchover finally arrives. The cost is likely to fall significantly, too.
What Car? says
The switchover is a way off yet so you don’t need to invest in a new radio right now. However, depending on how long you plan to keep your next car, it could be worth getting DAB fitted, even if you have to pay for it as an option. Coverage is improving all the time so, ultimately, you’ll have a better listening experience.