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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.

  • Glenn from Califonia

    Posted on 10/8/2016 6:57:51 PM

    Hi, This is going back to mounting the Sirius antenna and knowing if the magnetic base is strong enough for a car wash. I saw that it was suggested to remove the antenna, but of course, once you do all the routing, to undo all of that work would be tedious especially if you have to pop any paneling to undo and then redo once ready to put the antenna back. Is there any other suggestion to secure it to the roof? I saw that some installer may place a dab of silicone or possible double stick tape. I am not sure how the double stick tape would work since it would now not allow the antenna to be on the metal. I am also not sure what type of silicone would be recommended or how hard it would be to remove it if you decide to take out the antenna.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/10/2016 1:57:01 PM

    Glenn, we can't recommend any adhesives like silicone based how it might effect the finish on your vehicle. If installation has already taken place and the magnetic hold is not strong enough for your liking, personally I'd choose the lesser evil of rerouting the antenna over damaging the paint on my vehicle. However, it might be worth a visit to your local hardware store to see if they might have an ideal adhesive recommendation.

  • D Polmann from Florida

    Posted on 10/12/2016 4:13:51 PM

    You've suggested for an SUV to mount the antenna on the back portion of the roof, which I've also read elsewhere. It does seem like the easiest location. However, I have a factory roof rack with the crossbar located less than a foot from the rear (it's a small SUV). I've read that this will probably compromise reception due to metal in the rack. Any suggestions? How far away from the metal roof rack should the antenna be placed? (SiriusXM SXV300V1)

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/17/2016 2:00:52 PM

    D, SiriusXM recommends that you mount the antenna outside your car for the best reception, but that might not work in your case. You may be okay with the antenna on your dash, close to the windshield. Give it a try in both positions and compare results.

  • Doug W from Sunriver

    Posted on 11/29/2016 12:06:25 PM

    On my 2016 Tundra I've noticed that when using my USB drive I get a lot of album artwork for most songs I've added to the drive even though I didn't add it myself, is this due to the factory HU picking up this meta-data thru the metal rod antenna mounted on the passenger side fender or is this data extracted from the factory XM antenna mounted on cab? Want to do some after market upgrades but don't want to loose the meta-data.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/5/2016 1:19:11 PM

    Doug, that metadata had already been saved to your USB. It was downloaded via Wi-Fi when you originally downloaded the tracks to your computer or sometime thereafter.

  • r davis from troy n.c.

    Posted on 1/29/2017 4:43:47 PM

    sir I have a Pontiac vibe can If I buy a sirus xm raido from a junk yard out of a vibe same year as mine will the wiring work? if so how would I go about hooking up antennia on roof ?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/30/2017 9:40:12 AM

    R, That's a nice idea, but the other question is will the receiver still work and if it does, how much longer does it have? And you'll need a SiriusXM subscription either way. For your situation, a SiriusXM dock and play satellite radio might be a better, easier option. Give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you figure something out.

  • Joshua Hodge from Fernandina Beach

    Posted on 3/10/2017 6:46:40 PM

    I just bought a Kenwood DDX9703S from you guys and a SXV300V1 tuner as well. My 2008 honda accord coupe already had sirius xm would I have to install a the new tuner or can I use the factory antenna that comes in the car?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/13/2017 9:49:31 AM

    Joshua, If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • sherry from BURLINGTON

    Posted on 3/24/2017 5:54:31 PM

    can we install satellite radio to our utv ? and yes we do have a radio in the utv installed..

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/27/2017 10:14:50 AM

    Sherry, If the radio has an AUX input, your best bet is a SiriusXM Onyx Plus tuner . There are also ways to upgrade your speakers. Give us a call, and we'll help you find everything you need.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/24/2017 9:46:16 AM

    Jared, It can work, but it depends on the vehicle, the windshield angle, the amount of tint, where you live, the phase of the moon (kidding!), and who knows what else. We recommend installing the antenna on the roof or the trunk lid because it removes a lot of the variables and ensures the best possible satellite radio reception.

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