Can I update my car - and who'll do it?

* Be prepared for the switch to DAB * Does your car maker have it covered * Retro-fit options reviewed, too...

Can I update my car - and who'll do it?
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What Car? Staff
22 Dec 2011 14:55

Can I update my existing car?
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 dont want to do this.

One option is to fit a small supplementary box to your dash. Pure Radios 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. Itll cost you 179.99 (fitting is included from Halfords until the end of the year, after which it will cost 24.99), so it isnt cheap. However, its easy to use, unobtrusive and doesnt 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 cars steering wheel controls. Take a deep breath, though, because itll 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 shouldnt 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 dont 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, youll have a better listening experience.