The Pros and Cons of SiriusXM FM Extenders

If you’re having difficulties with the FM transmitter integrated into your SiriusXM tuner, you might be thinking about installing an FM extender. An FM extender is a broadcast antenna on the end of a wire that plugs into your tuner. A long wire allows you to place the broadcast antenna close to the FM receiving antenna on your car. The idea is that placing the broadcast and receiving antennas close together will create a better signal.

Installing an FM extender seems like a good solution, but it’s not quite a reliable one because FM transmitters don’t really work the way we want them to. We’ll explore the pros and cons of installing an FM extender in your car so you can get a better idea of what to expect if you buy one.

The Pros of Having an FM Extender

FM Extender

They invented FM extenders for a reason: they sort of work. Let’s talk about the two upsides of having an FM extender:

1. Cost

FM extenders are ridiculously cheap. You can get one for about 5 bucks on Amazon. It’s basically just an antenna to be plugged into your SiriusXM tuner.

2. Easy Installation

Installing an FM extender doesn’t require much in the way of specialized tools. You just have to plug it into your SiriusXM tuner and tuck away the cable to reduce dashboard clutter.

The Cons of Having an FM Extender

While these pros are great, you may find that the cons outweigh them.

1. Inherent Problems With the FM Transmitter

While FM extenders are designed to solve the problems a lot of people have with FM transmitters, it’s still a fool’s errand. The FM transmitter itself has a lot of problems that cannot be masked or fixed. For example, FM transmitters transmit at very low power so they don’t interfere with someone else’s car stereo. The low power transmission means that the signal just doesn’t carry very far. As a result, it’s pretty common for a listener to experience a dropped or intermittent signal even with an FM extender.

2. Poor Quality

We mentioned earlier that SiriusXM FM extenders are cheap, which is great. However, you get what you pay for. A lot of the FM extenders sold on Amazon have a pretty poor rating. If you read the reviews, you’ll find out that in some cases an FM extender creates even more static. Other customers reported that their FM transmitters made no difference in terms of reception and sound quality. In a nutshell, a SiriusXM FM extender is a hit or miss when it comes to quality (mostly miss, though, according to the reviews on Amazon).

Better Alternatives

Since we’ve established that FM transmitters have a lot of inherent problems and the quality isn’t always great, it’s just best to avoid using one at all. The good news is that there are better ways to get the SiriusXM signal into your car:

1. SiriusXM Streaming Add-On

Stream XM

If you don’t want to mess with your XM radio tuner anymore (due to the inherent FM transmitter problems and other drawbacks), you can consider getting SiriusXM’s streaming add-on. It’s a feature that allows you to access your SiriusXM channels through your smartphone. You can mount your phone in your car and listen to your favorite songs and SiriusXM shows on the go without worrying about a buggy FM transmitter messing everything up.

The only drawback to this is that you need either a wifi connection or mobile data to access SiriusXM on your smartphone. It shouldn’t be a problem if you have an unlimited mobile data plan, but you still have to worry about losing your signal in remote areas. If you’re looking for a more reliable solution that utilizes the large service coverage area offered by SiriusXM’s satellites, then a satellite adapter kit is the way to go.

2. Satellite Adapter Kit

No Clutter

A satellite adapter kit is designed to transform your factory radio into a SiriusXM-enabled device. You basically either install it behind the dash or plug it into a USB port. This setup eliminates the need for an SiriusXM tuner or FM transmitter. Good satellite adapter kits, such as those offered by VAIS Technology, enable you to use your factory stereo controls – including those on your steering wheel – to browse SiriusXM channels, adjust the volume, and more.

Categories: Car Accessories