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What Are Car Kits?
If you'd like to use your Dock & Play satellite radio in the car, you'll need to make sure you have a compatible car kit. Many Dock & Play radio packages include a car kit with the satellite tuner. The accessories in these kits let you power the radio and play the sound over your car stereo.
Car kits come with the accessories you need to use your Dock & Play satellite radio in your vehicle.
You'll generally find the following in a car kit:
- A cradle. Also called a docking station, the cradle is where the radio actually sits. You just have to mount it in a convenient spot on your dash or center console. All power and signal connections are made here.
- A DC power adapter. The power adapter plugs into the cradle at one end, and into your vehicle's power port at the other.
- An antenna. You'll need the antenna to receive the satellite signal. Mount the antenna on the roof of your vehicle, then run the cable to the cradle (see our article on installing an antenna, as well as our satellite radio antenna installation video for an idea of what you'll have to do to install it properly).
A wired FM modulator can help you connect your Dock & Play satellite radio to any car stereo.
Getting the sound to your stereo
There are several ways to get the sound to play through your car stereo:
- Wireless FM transmitter. Many Dock & Play radios feature a built-in wireless FM transmitter, which "broadcasts" the signal over an FM frequency that's unused in your area. The advantage: convenience — you won't have to connect the satellite radio directly to your in-dash stereo. The quality is pretty good, too (as good as standard FM). The downside: interference from FM signals can sometimes creep in, and you'll often have to switch frequencies if you're driving long distances.
- Auxiliary input. If your in-dash stereo has an auxiliary input, you can plug the satellite radio directly into it. You just need to run a patch cable from the satellite radio's cradle to the stereo's input. Because it's a direct connection, this will give you the best sound quality. Not all stereos have auxiliary inputs built in; some require auxiliary input adapters.
- Wired FM modulator. Some Dock & Play radios let you use a wired FM modulator to get the sound to your stereo. Like a wireless transmitter, a wired modulator "broadcasts" the signal over an unused frequency. You plug the modulator directly into your stereo's antenna input, then plug the stereo's antenna into the modulator so you won't lose AM/FM capability. Because it's a direct connection, it's less susceptible to outide interference (although, you may still have to change frequencies on long drives).
- Cassette adapter. If your stereo plays cassettes, you can connect your satellite radio directly to it (via the radio's cradle) with a cassette adapter. It's a convenient, easy connection to make, but the sound quality isn't as good as any of the other options.
Where should I mount the cradle?
Different car kits offer different methods for mounting your Dock & Play satellite radio. On the dash and on the windshield are the two most popular.
Mounting the cradle for your Dock & Play in a convenient spot is essential. You want to make sure you can reach and see it easily, and that it doesn't interfere with any of your vehicle's controls (like the climate controls, for example). Your mounting options include:
- The included mounting bracket. All car cradles come with a mounting bracket with an adhesive pad; you just find where you want to mount it and stick it there.
Universal brackets help you mount your Dock & Play satellite radio in any vehicle.
- A windshield mount. Some Dock & Play kits come with brackets that let you mount the radio on the windshield (as long as it doesn't obstruct your view). A specialized few can also slide onto your sun visor like a garage-door opener. Other windshield mounts are available separately from companies such as Pro.Fit.
- Universal or vehicle-specific mounts. If none of the above methods will work for you, consider a bracket made by companies such as Pro.Fit. There are universal mounts that you can attach to spots on or near your center console. There are also vehicle-specific mounts that help you put your radio in just the right spot — close enough to use easily, but out of the way of your dash controls. These mounts are available for most of the popular vehicles on the road today.