Tips for Buying New Car Audio

This chapter is designed to give you a few safety tips for buying new equipment. Not all new equipment is created equal and even the best brands fail. Make sure you're covered by a warranty and that you know by whom and for how long you are covered.

Warranty Check

An important aspect of a new piece of equipment is its warranty. The length of the warranty varies greatly between manufacturers. Ask to see the warranty card and look over it to see what is covered and for how long. The minimum warranty is usually 90 days for new equipment but a better warranty is at least one year. Some manufacturers will even extend the warranty to three years or longer if the equipment is installed by an authorized dealer. Check with the dealer and see if they carry brands that offer extended warranties for dealer installed equipment. Otherwise your warranty might be cut down to a year or less. It may be worth the extra installation charge to have the dealer install the equipment for you in order to get the extended warranty. If you change equipment every year then it may not make sense to have the extra coverage. See the chapter on warranties for more information.

Authorized Dealers

A lot of sources on the Internet will advertise the top brands at low prices. This doesn't mean that they are authorized to carry these brands though. Why should you care? Well, most manufacturers won't cover you under their factory warranty if you buy from an unauthorized source. Some will not let their authorized sources sell in any other way than through their store so any purchase of that brand through the mail will not be covered under the factory warranty. The dealer may provide their own warranty on this merchandise. This is known as "gray market" merchandise. Contact the manufacturer to find out if the source you are considering is authorized.

Gray Market Equipment

Gray market equipment is merchandise that is sold through non-authorized channels. The dealer selling the gray market merchandise will usually use another authorized source as their supplier. For a more detailed description of how this happens read this section. If you still want to buy gray market merchandise make sure you are covered if something breaks. Get a copy of the warranty and make sure you understand what is covered and how to make a claim. Make sure the equipment comes in the original box with the original manual, warranty card and that all factory serial numbers are intact. I bought a head unit once that had a fake serial number sticker applied over the factory serial number. I would never had known if the unit wasn't defective right out of the box. The factory service center (which I went to in person) pointed that out to me. I ended up having to get my credit card company to go to bat for me in order to get my money back. The lesson learned? Deal with reputable companies and use your credit card. It's worth a few bucks more.

Getting the Best Retail Deal

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