Learning how to improve AM radio reception in your car is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth ride in the vehicle. While many of us have foregone our radios in favor of phones these days, it never hurts to make sure that you’ve got everything you need in a single package.
Getting the reception you need to enjoy clear audio from the airwaves isn’t as hard as you’d think, it just requires a little bit of technical know-how and some simple tools.
Step 1: Work With What You Have
There are a ton of different products on the market which promise to be a surefire way answer to how to get better radio reception in your car.
We’re definitely not against them, but it’s a good idea to make sure that everything you have is firing correctly first.
There are a few different culprits for both interference and bad reception within your vehicle:
- The antenna and associated connections
- Electronic interference
- A bad setup in the first place
Most of these problems are easily fixed, and you should check them out before you try to buy anything to boost your reception.
Make sure that your antenna is both extended and that it doesn’t have any exterior damage. If that’s the case, then you’re probably going to be looking at a damaged receiving antenna, which is a simple fix.
If it all looks good then you’ll have to check the wiring. As long as the connections look good and they’re not running too close to other wires you’ll be fine.
If things look amiss, then you’ll need to rewire the antenna. These parts are usually cheap so you’ll probably want to pick up another one if there’s anything wrong from the base up, and most people can handle the job at home.
Pretty much all electronics are going to interfere with the reception of your radio on some level. While your cell phone isn’t likely to be the culprit, check the devices in your vehicle one-by-one to see if the interference is coming from within.
We haven’t seen this happen too often, but since pretty much all electric devices release EM radiation, it’s a definite possibility.
This type of interference is pretty specific to the AM portion of your radio and is one of the big reasons why there was such a strong push to FM in the middle of the 1900s. If you’re still experiencing a lot of static on the FM band of the radio then it’s not a likely culprit.
If you’re not running an HD deck, then you’re missing out. Of course, you might not quite be ready to upgrade just yet so there’s one other thing you can try before you have to spend any money.
Switch over to mono from stereo settings, this will sometimes increase reception by picking up a stronger portion of the signal.
Unfortunately, if you live in a deep valley or are in another situation where you’re not able to get a clear line-of-sight to your radio station you may just be out of luck.
Terrain does a remarkably good job at blocking both AM and FM radio waves, and the former in particular can get completely blocked despite small distances between you and the source of the signal.
Sometimes everything is just going to be out of your hands. This is particularly the case in areas where there’s a large amount of strong radio broadcasts. While it’s great if you’re listening to those channels, for those who are trying to pick up weaker bands things can get pretty bad pretty quickly.
In some cases, you can even end up with a radio station completely overpowering another one although this is pretty rare in the wild. As a theoretical possibility it’s definitely possible, however.
Of course, there’s always the event that none of this will work out for you. If you can’t get your reception to the level you want, then you may have to spend some money.
Step 2: Electronics Which Can Improve Your Radio Reception
If none of the above get you to where you need to be, then you’re going to have to spend some money to improve your equipment.
There are a lot of gimmicks out there which purport to be the perfect solution to how to get better radio reception in your car.
There are really only two tried and true ways to ensure that you’re able to get things going, however.
Signal boosters are relatively simple devices. Keep in mind that if the station is the problem, you’re still not going to be out of the waters of bad reception and static.
Signal boosters work like a repeater. As long as your antenna catches the signal you’re looking for, you’ll be able to repeat and amplify it in order to get better reception. They’re usually fairly cheap and there are a lot of models on the market, so picking one out isn’t all that hard.
They tend to get harsher reviews than many electronics because people rarely have the rest of their equipment in order before picking one up. Rather than the fault of the electronics, it’s usually operator error that gets people.
Better Head Units
If you really want to make sure you don’t miss your talk radio, then you’ll probably want to invest in a better head unit. Most of the OEM models skimp on the radio, particularly in low to mid-cost vehicles, at least as far as reception is concerned.
That’s mainly due to radio being used less and less, which means that most people are more concerned with other features.
Pretty much any head unit from a reputable company will be just fine.
The Other Option
If you’re not quite ready to invest your money in picking up either of the above improvements, there’s on easy solution that virtually guarantees good reception: use your phone.
There are free apps available for both Android and iOS which will let you use your phone as an intermediary. From there, you can either use Bluetooth or an auxiliary cord to connect to your head unit, depending on how advanced it is.
At the end of the day, it’s a pretty simple matter to make sure you’ll be able to get what you need. Whether you want to know how to improve AM radio reception in your car or just want to know how to improve car radio reception in general we hope that we’ve served you the info you need.
Did we miss any of your favorite tricks? Want to know where we’re headed next? Leave us a comment below.