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How to Choose a Car Stereo Installer

(I.C.E.)In Car Entertainment - Mobile Audio and Video

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SR
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How to Choose a Car Stereo Installer

Postby SR » June 29th, 2006, 9:07 am

How to Choose a Car Stereo Installer
Probably the biggest unsung hero in car audio is the installer. The installer spends his days bent over trunks, twisted into weird positions and lying upside in who knows what in order to install your equipment. I have a lot of respect for installers. Probably because I've been installing equipment since I first had a car. Unless you have a guide it can be a challenge to install your first system. If you don't feel up to the task then you're going to need to seek out a professional.

Finding a good installer is critical to getting a good installation. Ask around and you'll get plenty of horror stories of bad installs. I've had people in tears when I showed them what their last installer did to their car. Out of sight, out of mind is not the credo you want your installer to live by. Here's a few tips to help make sure your installer is up to the task:

What certifications does the installer hold? MECP is the most common. Look for at least "Basic Level" (Bronze) certification. Advanced (formerly First Class" Installer (Silver) is the next step up and the most common for experienced installers. Master Installer (Gold) is the highest level and the most difficult to achieve. There are less than 100 Master Installers at any given time so don't expect to find one.
How much experience does the installer have? If they've been installing at the same shop for several years then that's a good sign. Total years experience is also important but don't expect a twenty year veteran. Installers tend to be young and often move on to other ventures.
What training has the installer had? There are several manufacturers that will offer training to installers on site. See if your installer has completed any training of this sort or if they have attended one of the many installation specific schools. This can be a plus but neither is a substitute for install bay experience.
Ask to see the installer's photo album. Most shops and installers will keep a photo album of the installs they do. This shows what they are capable of and may inspire some ideas for your own system.
If you don't know anyone who has used this installer than ask if they have any customer testimonial letters. It's good to see that others have used the installer and have been satisfied. Don't be too concerned if they don't have any. These are much more rare than the photo album.
In addition to finding a good installer you also need to make sure that installer's shop backs up their work with some kind of guarantee. This is like a warranty on installation. It's your assurance that if they don't do their part that they will make it right or at least give your money back. Make sure you get it in writing. And I would always make sure they agree to a noise free installation. A good installation doesn't have noise so if you're paying for the job then they owe you a noise free installation. Noise suppressors are not a solution either. If they can't give you a noise free guarantee then find another shop. A good installer is able to eliminate noise in their installations. Here's a few other questions to ask about the installation process:

How is installation charged? Is it by the job or by the hour? Most shops will have a flat fee for the common installations like head units, speakers and amplifiers. Custom work will usually be charged by the hour. $50 per hour is the industry norm but that varies widely by area.
Will my factory components be returned to me? The answer should be yes. If it's not then make sure they understand that the answer is yes or you'll take your business elsewhere. You'll need that equipment if you plan on taking your stereo with you when you sell your car. If nothing else you can sell it on eBay for a couple of dollars.
Do you use wiring harness adapters? This will make re-installing your factory stereo much easier and is just a generally good practice.
How do you make wire connections? Make sure they use solder and heat shrink or crimp connectors.
What type of insurance do you carry? This will protect you in case your car is damaged while in the install bay or if the installer accidentally sets off your airbag. If they don't carry insurance then you might have to take them to court to get reimbursed.
If you're looking to install a competition system then you'll need to find an installer with experience in this area. Don't let an installer "cut his teeth" on your vehicle. You want to find someone with a history of winning vehicles. This can be tough so be prepared. The best place to find one is at the car stereo competitions. Find system installations that you like and ask who installed them. This is especially true of the competition winners. When the same name keeps coming up you'll know you found your installer. Find out what shop they work for and go there. Ask to speak with the installer and let them know what you want. Most installers would rather work on a competition vehicle than the typical "deck and two" installation. The competition vehicle is where the installer's skills can really shine.

One final note about installers. Because they're under appreciated you can score points with them by doing what few people do. First you need to meet with them. Introduce yourself and let them know what you're looking for. Smile, treat them with respect and give them your phone number so they can reach you if they have any questions. Don't rush them unless you want a rush job. If you really need to have the car finished sooner than normal then you might want to offer them a tip if they can get it completed sooner by working overtime. Do this discretely and out of earshot of other employees. If you can afford it you might consider offering them a tip if they do a good job as well. This is probably overkill for a head unit installation but on a full system you might want to consider offering them a little something extra. A few extra dollars spent ($20-50) could help guarantee that everything is done right. You'll be remembered for sure and any future installs will be a priority for the installer as well.




these prices are in US so if you do a conversion you will note that prices in trinidad are a lot less

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fuzz_174
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Postby fuzz_174 » June 29th, 2006, 10:42 am

nice read..

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Postby nigel1977 » June 29th, 2006, 12:06 pm

We need to get some our guys to the mecp training programme.

year after next, im really hoping to go to snake pit or fish camp. no details yet, but im hoping.

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Postby X_Factor » June 29th, 2006, 7:44 pm

good work dey

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audio

Postby Reamos EK9 » July 2nd, 2006, 6:07 pm

very interesting...

i find it have too much ppl out there who only sayin they cud do this and that..and yet they have nothing to show for it..i mean there might be some ppl out there who are really skilled but just can't expose their name because of financial reasons..
most ppl when they want an install...they looking for a respectable place..as SR say someone who has a good reputation..
the customer would want to know that the installer knows exactly what he's doing,that his/her vehicle is safe if the vehicle is to be left overnight.and if the job the installer doing worth the money being paid..
i have an install to do and i am looking for a really good installer..and trust me it have alot of imposters out there..
i had 2 separate installers wiring my deck wrong..and i spent almost a $1000 on building a box that was ported wrongly..
i am to blame for this..i shouldve profiled the ppl who tried to install and i wouldve realized that they struggle in doing what they call "installs"..
they would actually call other installers and ask them how to do this and that..
what i like to do is ask an installer who i'm profiling questions i know answers too..test them to see if they know their job..if u dont know about music...surf the net..get some questions that professionals should know and ask them..trust me..if the installer aces the Question..it'll put a smile on your face and he might be the chosen one!
well what can i say..u get burn to learn..all u ppl out there who lookin for good installers..dont just choose somone buy impulse..i mean i am lucky it was just my deck and box they messed up..it couldve been the whole system!!
dont just choose and install just cuz somebody say "yeh boy them rel good"..check it out for urself..do research..
car audio..if u have really good equipment..can cost u a loads and loads of money!..i dont think youd want anyone to mess that up..
thx for reading

reamonn

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Postby kyle » July 4th, 2006, 12:20 pm

A good installer :shock: , very hard to find in this country :cry:

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Postby nigel1977 » July 4th, 2006, 1:40 pm

Too often we're finding installers and outstallers following other systems and unsing equipment thats either over kill or incorrectly suited for the application.

I feel its
1. Lack of education on the basic installation principles
2. lack of understanding of the application
3. lack of knowledge about the equipment
4. Total ignorance of proper system design

Just because someone else does it for "donkey years" dont make it right. Installers need to understand the application before the start "building" a system.

I've been doing this since '92 and I definately wont say I know everything. There is so much more to learn for yourself rather than just following someone elses idea/concept.

This is where proper training comes in.

I do hope we can get the MECP thing going

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SR
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Postby SR » July 6th, 2006, 10:06 am

there are lots of backyard installers who do not have the understanding of basic electronic principles
what gauge wire to use
how to run wires

inductance
proper grounding
safety

how to load amplifiers correctly

and lots of them "claim" to be "best" installer and there are some who work/own installation shops

this is also encouraged by the consumer who always looking for a "bess deal" and will spend money on equipment but looking for the "cheap" labour for installation

you get what you pay for

when things go wrong the first thing to blame is the equipment when the first thing to look at is the install especially if new equipment was used

how many of these "installers" understand basic autoelectronics and principles?

no one is saying yuh hadda be a UWI grad to be an installer but there are ways to educate yourself to be a better installer
thus having less returns on jobs

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Postby nigel1977 » July 6th, 2006, 11:25 am

AYE AYE.. returns is a good ting meng. how else dey gonna make moore money off the customer. come nah man.

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Postby Computerman » July 6th, 2006, 11:51 am

SR wrote:you get what you pay for

I had someone (alleged installer) install the first system in my car in 1996. It worked alright for a short while...was a very basic system (no amp, no sub). Had nagging probs with it.
I had another ('known' installer) do an upgrade in 1999 (added preamp and 'sub'). Was better...still had minor issues.
Did some little changes myself over the next couple of years.
Finally decided to do over everyting 'myself' with Maximus actually doing most of the work :oops: . Bought everything I needed (wiring, speakers, amp, pre-amp). Spent 12 hrs installing and viola...good system. All I've had to do over the past two years is change (upgrade) a few compenents. :D

The only reason I decided to do it myself is 'cause I felt I was getting 'robbed' by these ppl when I paid to have the work done. If Maximus wasn't available to assist I probably wouldn't have attempted it.

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Postby shazzz69 » August 21st, 2006, 9:09 pm

as usual......nice piece SR!! :!:

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Postby Val » August 29th, 2006, 11:28 am

nice read.

Nigel1977, very good installer, I've had no issues, never seen an install done so neatly, and the sound quality of my simple system is awesome for the price paid IMO. Two thumbs up.

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Postby Kash » August 29th, 2006, 11:41 am

^^^ I second that. Two thumbs way up.

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Postby 2NR Smurf » August 29th, 2006, 12:39 pm

My installer does a decent job too.

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Postby nigel1977 » August 29th, 2006, 12:53 pm

we'll see how decent on the 17th.... :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

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Postby 2NR Smurf » August 29th, 2006, 1:03 pm

...... :(

well decent enuff considering meh shallow pockets :cry:

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nigel1977
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Postby nigel1977 » August 29th, 2006, 1:06 pm

shallow is a relative term my friend. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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2NR Smurf
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Postby 2NR Smurf » August 29th, 2006, 1:13 pm

well check my height....so yuh know shallow mean shallow :lol: :lol:

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nigel1977
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Postby nigel1977 » August 29th, 2006, 1:14 pm

yeah, buh yuh does wear baggy clothing meng

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Postby 2NR Smurf » August 29th, 2006, 1:24 pm

^i call it small clothing for normal sized ppl.

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Shaka
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Postby Shaka » November 4th, 2007, 5:32 pm

Is MECP available in T & T.

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Postby Dr. Mod » July 18th, 2008, 2:38 pm

dat is why if i have to do any installs for anybody i do an inspection on d car first to see if it is capable of any upgrades or "mods" then ask d customer a couple of questions to see wat dey want to do to their audio and if they want someting done to a certain part in d audio dat needs extensive mods eg: 5000watt amp with one spl sub running on the vehicle battery. dat is where i draw d line cause if they cannot do that jus so cause dat amp needs more voltage to feed on and to move dat sub coil so dat means either extra alternator install in car with an extra dry cell battery or upgrade d car alternator with a bigger battery dat will not fry d car wiring harness but will have enough power for d amp followed an install of a capacitor........now dat is wat u call an upgrade :twisted: :twisted:

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Postby Pirate » September 21st, 2008, 3:14 am

It is really hard to find a really good installer. Basically, most of them "dont know dey @$$ from dey elbow"! I prefer to painstakingly do my own install. My work might not be as neat as the good installers (utilising what little tools i have), but i know a good amount of information about car audio and i get the job done and it sounds great! :)

^^^
as a plus, "meh pockets stay filled"!
:mrgreen:

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Postby angel_player » April 5th, 2009, 10:28 pm

nice read... i learned a few little things to look for when I have to get my job done :D

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Postby skellyuno » April 5th, 2009, 11:07 pm

so who are some of d top installers and tuners around??

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Postby evolution7tt » April 6th, 2009, 11:42 am

skellyuno wrote:so who are some of d top installers and tuners around??



SR.

nigel_1977

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Postby anythingforreal » September 27th, 2009, 2:02 pm

my installer is great

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Postby asdmodi » October 12th, 2009, 4:18 am

HI.
SR
Car installer is very much important for everyone, Finding a good installer is critical to getting a good installation. Ask around and you'll get plenty of horror stories of bad installs. I've had people in tears when I showed them what their last installer did to their car.

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edhardy
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Postby edhardy » October 12th, 2009, 8:22 am

Shaka asked ,
Is MECP available in T & T.


Donald Koo from Diego-Martin in MECP certified

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Lance
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Postby Lance » October 12th, 2009, 12:55 pm

edhardy wrote:Shaka asked ,
Is MECP available in T & T.


Donald Koo from Diego-Martin in MECP certified


i Don't think that's what he asked

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