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Video: How to install a satellite radio or GPS antenna

Robert Ferency-Viars is the managing editor for the Crutchfield car A/V learning content, and has been with the company since 1999. A Virginia native from the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he loves spending time with his wonderful wife and sons, listening to music, writing, and playing games with friends. Robert's love for car audio began at 16 when he installed his first car stereo.

More from Robert Ferency-Viars

This video shows you how to install an antenna for a satellite radio or GPS navigation system. The task isn't usually that difficult, but it can take a a little time to route the antenna cable.

Video Transcript

Satellite radio and navigation systems in your car have one thing in common. They both need a special antenna to receive signals from their satellites. First generation antennas were pretty big and bulky, but newer antennas are much smaller and easier to install. In this video we'll give you some tips on how to install the antenna, whether you have a car, truck, or a hatchback.

In most cases you'll be able to do the job with simple tools like a screwdriver, a socket set, a panel tool, and maybe a file. The first rule of antenna performance is to mount it high and clear. The roof of the vehicle is ideal but mounting it on a trunk lid will work pretty well too.

With most sedans it makes sense to mount the antenna on the roof in front of the rear window. Stick the antenna a few inches in front of the rear window. The magnetic base will hold it firmly in place. Then run the cable along the outside edge of the window seal and bring it to the trunk. Once there, locate a spot to run the wire into the trunk under the seal. If necessary, use a round file to notch the trunk's edge. Wrap the wire with some tape to protect it then replace the seal.

If you have a pickup truck there are some other options available to you. The brake light mounted above the cabs' rear window provides an excellent point of entry for the antenna's cable. From there you can drop the antenna cable behind the cab panels and down to the floor. Once you've reached the floor route the cable under the carpet to the front of the cab and up to the dashboard.

With a hatchback or SUV, installation is a little simpler. The back portion of the roof is an ideal mounting location for the antenna. Feed the cable through the hatch and then underneath the hatch's rubber weather seal. From there you can slip the cable underneath the carpet of the interior and route it toward the front of the car.

So you see, though you may have to spend some time routing the antenna cable, there's no real trick to installing it. Just plan ahead and take your time. Don't forget — all the gear you buy from Crutchfield comes with our free tech support so if you have any questions about the installation we're here to help. And for help choosing the right gear contact us online via chat or email or just give us a call.

  • kelly neverett from chazy

    Posted on 8/3/2015 9:41:21 PM

    Will a ony x plus work in a 2002 Acura dmx

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/4/2015 11:59:30 AM

    Kelly, the Onyx Plus gives you two ways to hook it up to hear audio in your car -- via an AUX input or tuning through an FM signal. As long as your FM tuner is working or you have an AUX input, it should work in your Acura. Be sure to order the vehicle kit though, and not the home kit.

  • Robert Mohns from Haverhill

    Posted on 8/23/2015 11:50:52 AM

    File the trunk down!? Bad idea unless you are prepared to paint the raw metal this will expose. If you don't, you've just created a great rust point that will spread underneath the paint.

  • Jack from Bull Shoals, AR

    Posted on 10/2/2015 4:24:15 PM

    I want to install my Sirius radio in a 2000 model Dodge 1500 van. My problem/question is how do I connect the radio so I get programming from my Sirius radio? I have used this radio in other (newer) vehicles that have am, fm, MP3 AND auxiliary channels. Since the van has only am, fm and cassette options I don't know how to connect the Sirius so it will function. Help and thanks.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/2/2015 4:57:33 PM

    Jack, I've sent your question to our sales team for the best answer. They'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Jim from Sahuarita

    Posted on 10/3/2015 8:05:24 PM

    I want to replace a factory unit that has XM built-in (aux-in is busted, and I want more features than it has). I realize I need to buy an XM tuner to work with the head unit I want to install (why don't they just build it in to the head unit?), but is it possible to simply hook into the XM antenna that's already in the car (2011 GMC Acadia), or do I have to use the antenna that comes with the tuner?

  • Robert Ferency-Viars from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/5/2015 4:06:15 PM

    Jim, no, you don't have to install a new antenna. We have an adapter that will let you connect the factory satellite radio antenna to the new tuner. You plug the Acadia's blue satellite radio antenna connector into one end and plug the other end into the antenna connection on the new tuner. The best part is that it is compatible with your Acadia. Give us a call if you want to make sure you get everything you need for your installation.

  • Jack C. from New York

    Posted on 10/21/2015 11:26:59 PM

    Maybe a crazy question...When installing a GPS head unit to an F150 with Sirius, is it possible to use the Sirius antenna for the GPS? If so, could the the antenna serve both Sirius and the GPS?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/22/2015 8:58:25 AM

    Jack, wouldn't that be great? Unfortunately a satellite radio antenna and a GPS antenna cannot serve the same function. Also, if you're hoping to use your factory satellite radio antenna with an aftermarket radio, you will need extra equipment. It won't be as simple as plug and play. Be sure to give us a call if that's what you have in mind, and an advisor can help.

  • Brad Grant

    Posted on 12/16/2015 10:37:05 AM

    Just bought an aftermarket stereo with the SiriusXM SXV300V1 tuner kit for our 2006 Honda CR-V. It had an XM-ready factory stereo but we never activated the satellite service. It has an antenna-looking black box on the back of the roof, but I'm not sure if there is actually an antenna in it or not since we didn't have the satellite tuner option added when purchasing the car. How can I check if there is an antenna there and can it be used with the SXV300? If I have to use the one that came with my Crutchfield purchase, can it replace the factory unit on the roof?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/17/2015 8:44:07 AM

    Brad, good question. The SXV300V1 will not work with your factory antenna, so you will need to use the one included with new kit. Since you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help setting up your system. Don't hesitate to call. You'll find that number included with your emailed receipt. If you can't locate that, just give us a call at the number above.

  • Jack Marks from Danbury

    Posted on 12/25/2015 5:50:09 PM

    I have a 2011 Hyundai sonata 2.0 T it has stock dimensions radio and I want the gps unit I purchased a radio from Hyundai and everything plugs in but my gps home screen is set for Detroit and I live in ct it works but I can't get my location. I know I need a gps antenna and at the moment I just have a am/fm/Sirius antenna do you sell the antenna and wire harness for it to work or do you know a short cut

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/28/2015 9:41:05 AM

    Jack, if you have a Hyundai factory radio, you'll have to talk to Hyundai. If you decide to upgrade to an aftermarket stereo, we can certainly help you. Just give us a call or use our vehicle selector.

  • ronald zoubek from baltimore, maryland

    Posted on 1/7/2016 10:56:25 PM

    Two questions 1- will the Sirius antenna work if mounted inside the car on the windshield next to the mirror mount? 2- my 2011 Mazda Miata mx5 has a Bose audio unit with a satellite button which I'm told by the dealer, through the vin number, is a Crutchfield unit and I would like to know if this unit has a dedicated sat. plug on the back for an aftermarket Sirius connector? Thank you for your help. Ron.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/8/2016 9:28:33 AM

    Ronald, SiriusXM recommends that you mount the antenna outside your car for the best reception, but you may be okay with the antenna on your dash, close to the windshield. Your best bet is to give it a try in both positions. To answer your second question, it's odd that the dealer said your head unit came from Crutchfield. We never carried a Bose car stereo, and Bose provided a factory package for Mazda, so I'm assuming you're talking about your factory stereo. Aftermarket SiriusXM tuners will only work with aftermarket SiriusXM-ready receivers. If you have an aftermarket SiriusXM tuner and would like to find a compatible aftermarket stereo, give us a call or use our vehicle selector to confirm which stereos fit your car and get some info on what else is needed for the installation.

  • Mike from Perry

    Posted on 2/7/2016 8:52:34 AM

    How do the magnetic antennas hold up to an automatic car wash? Is the magnet strong enough to remain mounted?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/8/2016 7:20:28 AM

    Mike, your best move would be to remove the antenna when going through a car wash. You're better off not leaving damage to your antenna or your car's exterior to chance.

  • jerry bartsch from preston

    Posted on 3/2/2016 8:05:45 PM

    how do I turn the voice guidance on the gps I have a ALPINE 1XA-W4O7

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/3/2016 9:41:42 AM

    Jerry, you'll need an add-on navigation drive to access full navigation capabilities with that receiver. If you'd like to see the manual, check out the Details tab on the receiver product page.

  • dandefrancis from RAVENSWOOD

    Posted on 3/5/2016 6:41:30 PM

    I'm trying to connect my Samsung Tab 2 tablet via the USB connection, but the Jensen VX7020 does not find (connect) to the tablet. The table display says it's switched to playback media mode but the Jensen does not recognize the connection. Any suggestions?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/7/2016 9:35:29 AM

    Dande, if you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your problem. It could be that your Tab 2 is not compatible with the Jensen radio, but you can contact their customer service for confirmation or to see if there are any firmware updates that might help.

  • Keith from Oregon City

    Posted on 5/27/2016 3:49:03 PM

    For most vehicles the magnetic base is a great idea. What about an application where the magnetic base has no metal to stick to? i.e. Corvette?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/30/2016 8:44:29 AM

    Keith, an alternative would be placing your GPS or satellite radio antenna on one of the far corners of your dash in an out-of-the-way spot. A 3M adhesive square is probably all you need to hold it in place.

  • Torrey from York

    Posted on 7/7/2016 10:58:48 PM

    Hello I just install my new Head unit its a pioneer avh-x4800 and my car is a Toyota Rav4 2009 limited. Can you please tell me if there's an adapter that i can use and plus i would like keep the factory

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/8/2016 9:07:05 AM

    Torrey, give us a call. The harnesses you need will depend on your factory audio package and which factory features you'd like to keep.


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