The Pros And Cons Of Owning A Dash-Mounted Satellite Radio

You don’t need a brand new car to enjoy SiriusXM® satellite radio and the perks that come with it. All you need is an aftermarket satellite radio adapter kit and someone to install it. Or, if you like, you can install the adapter kit yourself.


Adapters come in a few forms:

  • “Dash-Mount”, which are basically kits that stick to the dash somewhere
  • USB or behind-the-dash adapters, which are the types of kits our company sells

This article is for anyone thinking about buying a dash-mounted satellite radio adapter kit, with a list of pros and cons to help you reach the best decision. If you’re wondering about the pros and cons of our adapter kits, read this instead.

Pros Of Owning A Dash-Mounted Satellite Radio Kit

Car dash radio

Image Credit: seblinux78


Having a dash-mounted satellite radio kit comes with a couple of pros:

1. Simple Installation

Installing a dash-mount satellite radio kit is a straightforward process. First, you need to find a clean spot on your dash, place the double-stick tape on that spot, and then attach the mount. Then, you will snap the tuner or controller into this mount. This is the easy part.

Next – and depending on the type of dash-mount kit you buy – you’ll either need to run some wiring behind the dash to connect with the antenna cable (You’ll need to pull your factory stereo out of the dash to do this.), or you’ll need to run a wire to your vehicle’s aux input. You’re also going to need to run a satellite radio antenna cable (and attach that antenna) as well as a power cord. So, you’ve got some work to do.

Last but not least, you’ll want to wrestle all these wires so that they’re out of the way. Professional installers will usually run the wiring behind the vehicle dash, so if you’re looking for a professional-grade finish that’s what you’ll want to do.

2. Some Nifty Touch-Screen Controllers Are Available

These days, most touchscreen controllers are nice-looking when mounted cleanly.

Cons Of Owning A Dash-Mounted Satellite Radio Kit

Using a dash-mounted satellite radio kit comes with some drawbacks, including:

1. Dash Clutter

In a word, a dash-mounted satellite radio kit is “busy.” There are at least three different wires coming out of the back of the dash-mounted unit, and there’s also a mounting bracket. While a professionally installed dash-mounted unit can look pretty clean, most of the dash-mounted units we see have loose wires that get in the way.

Also, on newer cars, there aren’t many good places to mount a dash controller. Every inch of the dash on a newer vehicle is in use, which can make placement difficult. And, even if you find the perfect spot and run the wires like a pro, there’s still the fact that the satellite radio controller looks like an add-on.

2. Inability To Use Factory Stereo Controls

Dash-mounted satellite radio kits are incompatible with your factory stereo controls, even those on your steering wheel. When you want to change radio stations, you have to do it on the satellite radio box. This is inconvenient, especially if your controller isn’t mounted in a convenient spot.

3. Hit Or Miss Sound Quality

If your dash-mounted satellite radio kits use an FM modulator (which is a short range FM transmitter), there can be a lot of little problems with sound quality. We’ve written up a detailed blog post here that talks about FM modulators. Suffice to say, this is a less-than-ideal way to get the satellite signal from your tuner to your stereo.

A Better Alternative

No clutter

Instead of cluttering up your dash, you might consider a VAIS Technology factory-style satellite radio adapter. While we’re obviously biased, our adapters have two big benefits:

  1. VAIS adapters install out of sight. You don’t have to try and find the right spot for a controller, or deal with wires, or hope that your installation stands the test of time. All you have to do is add our unit (typically installed behind the dash) to your factory stereo and you have SiriusXM®.
  2. VAIS adapters work with factory stereo controls. We’ve got a kit for most vehicles, which means you can control your SiriusXM® radio with your factory stereo interface. You can use your factory touchscreen, factory buttons and knobs, and even your factory steering wheel controls. No jumping from the stereo to the controller and back.

Of course, just like the dash-mount units, VAIS adapter kits have presets and they’re also available for most SiriusXM® special offers. To learn more about VAIS Technology satellite radio adapter kits, click here.

Categories: Satellite Radio