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How to choose a replacement FM antenna for your car

Common questions about replacing your car's FM antenna

antenna install

Most modern vehicles will never need to have the AM/FM radio antenna replaced. But older cars or cars with long, thin metal-shaft antennas might occasionally need a replacement. Those are the vehicles and antennas that we're talking about here. 

How do I know if I need a new antenna?

It's sometimes hard to tell with FM, because relatively strong FM signals can sometimes be picked up without an antenna. On the other hand, if you get nothing across the entire AM band, you probably need a new antenna.

If you can tune in a station, gently take hold of the antenna near its base and jiggle it lightly back and forth. If the signal pops in and out, your antenna is not making firm contact with the body of the car. It may just need tightening, or it may be partially corroded and need replacing.

Stock antennas may need to be replaced after only four to six years. They wear out faster if you live near the ocean, where the salty sea breezes can accelerate corrosion. Generally, most people will only need to replace the antenna if the mast is obviously rusted or broken.

What if my radio antenna is in the windshield? 

If you have an antenna that's embedded in the windshield, you'll get better reception if you upgrade to a fender-mounted antenna. They're just better at receiving radio signals. But that means you'll need to cut a hole in a fender and run the antenna cable to your radio. Do-able, but more challenging than a direct-replacement job. 

Motorized antennas

If you want the convenience and security of a motorized antenna, which automatically raises and lowers the mast, we have models to fit most vehicles. However, a motorized model won't improve reception unless the original antenna has gone bad.

Is installing a new antenna a difficult task?

Installing an antenna can be challenging because of the need to replace the entire run of antenna cable. But if you give yourself plenty of time and follow our suggestions for feeding the cable through the car, you should be able to do it without too much difficulty. When you purchase your replacement antenna from Crutchfield, we give you installation instructions specific to your vehicle AND our technical support expertise.

Would an antenna booster improve my radio reception?

If your overall reception is good and you just want to get better reception on a couple of stations, then yes, an antenna booster may do the trick. On the other hand, if your overall reception is poor, the problem may be the antenna or the radio's tuner.

First check the antenna connection using the "jiggle test" we mentioned up top. If radio reception pops in and out when you gently jiggle the base of the antenna, then your antenna is not making firm contact with the body of the car. It may just need tightening, or it may be partially corroded and need replacing.

If the connection is fine and the antenna is not obviously rusted or broken, then changing antennas won't be of much help. In this case a booster may be easiest, most cost-effective solution.

You might need a cable adapter

Most car manufacturers use a standardized antenna connection, called a Motorola plug. If you own a GM, Nissan, or VW, however, you'll need an adapter. These manufacturers do not use the standard connector. Crutchfield carries the appropriate adapter for your vehicle, so use our vehicle selector to find the right adapter and a new antenna.

In most cases, you need to remove your radio to reach the antenna plug. If you buy your antenna from Crutchfield, you'll get the stereo removal instructions for your vehicle for free. As with anything else you buy from us, we'll be here if you need any help when you install your new antenna. Our Tech Support staff is just a phone call away.

We're here to help

To see if we have a replacement antenna for your vehicle, just tell us what you drive and we'll show you your options. And if you have any questions, contact our helpful advisors via phone or chat. 

  • Sean D. from Byron Center

    Posted on 9/3/2020

    My 05 Subie Outback has the antenna integrated into the rear windshield. When I crank on the window defogger in the back, I lose a ton of reception. I'm going to check some of the wiring between the body and tailgate, but assuming everything looks good, I'm assuming to mitigate this issue would be a physical antenna instead?

  • Ira S. Cohen from Delray Beach

    Posted on 8/2/2020

    do some car cd receivers have better FM reception than others?

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    Ken Nail from Crutchfield

    on 8/3/2020

    Good question Ira. The answer is yes - some receivers have better reception than others. When you're comparing receivers, be sure to check the "Details" tab and look for "FM Sensitivity." Receivers with a smaller value have better FM reception. Hope that helps!
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    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/19/2018

    Chuck, we don't sell a replacement antenna for your vehicle. If you've installed an aftermarket receiver, it may be worth checking your connections/wiring to see if any adjustments could improve that interference issue.

  • Chuck from Elkhorn

    Posted on 4/18/2018

    I get a lot of electrical interference when listening to AM stations. I have a 2007 Nissan Frontier with an aftermarket Kenwood head unit. Antenna is stock. Our other vehicle doesn't get nearly the same amount of interference. Would a different antenna help? Are there antenna's made that filter all that electrical noise?

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    Ken Nail from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/10/2017

    Gary, No worries on the ground. Plug in the new antenna and you're all set!

  • gary hester from LIVINGSTON

    Posted on 4/8/2017

    Does the antenna need a ground or does the cable to the radio qualify as a ground?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/24/2016

    Vidal, I don't see that an adapter is required. You may want to check your connections to ensure that they're secure at the back of the radio. If you continue to have trouble, keep in mind that you can get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Vidal Smith Jr

    Posted on 10/23/2016

    I am unable to get good, clear reception on my after market radio, Boss bvb9364rc, when installed in my 2002 Honda CRV. Everything works well except the radio. Would an antenna cable adapter help?

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    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/14/2016

    Tim, sorry to hear that. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, please give our Tech Support a call. They'll help you troubleshoot your system.

  • Tim Pearce from zebulon

    Posted on 9/13/2016

    I choose pioneer because of their reputation and back in the day they had something called super tuner. The stock radio in my truck pulled in and held more stations that my new Pioneer radio. It's like the muting level is rejecting in and out. I'm disappointed. I'm tempted to find a stock radio and sell the new pioneer unit. DEH-X3800UI

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/10/2016

    John, give us a call with the year of your Golf for the best answer.

  • john from palm desert

    Posted on 8/3/2016

    do you offer a quality shark fin antenna for my mk4 vw golf?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/21/2015

    Stephen, we carry this replacement antenna for a 1989 Lincoln Town Car with a toggle-style volume control on the factory stereo. A Crutchfield MasterSheet is included with your purchase to help you install it. However, please note that if your Town Car's factory stereo has a rotary volume knob, we do not carry a compatible replacement antenna. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call, and for an in-depth look at the recommended antenna, click the "Details" tab on the product page and download the owner's manual.

  • Stephen from Toronto, Ontario Canada

    Posted on 5/20/2015

    Hi, I am in need of an antenna mast for my 1989 Lincoln Town car. The car has a newer Pioneer radio. I am in need of an antenna mast to replace the broken one for my car. The over all length of the antenna mast and stainless steel shaft (whip) was 54 inches. I can provide the length of the stainless steel upper section of the mast at a later time. The mast currently is the 3 piece sectional type but the car originally had the four sectional type. The closed section, from motor to upper wheel well, I believe is 8 to 10 inches in size, I can confirm this at a later time. Do you have antenna masts that might work for my car? This car is a good condition, summer car. Thanks Stephen