Websites for car audio components?

I’m looking to replace my Saturn VUE’s factory stereo with an iPod-compatible CD deck. I’ve been browsing Crutchfield, but am wondering if there are any other good, reputable websites for buying car audio stuff.

Any suggestions?

The big box retailers have car stereos and so do places like Autozone. But with those, you’re not going to get the detailed instructions specific to your vehicle like you will throug Crutchfield. I would highly recommend Crutchfield.

Seconded. Crutchfield is one of the few businesses that actually make me feel good for doing business with them.

Car-electronics installer checking in here. All the other local dealers I talk to are extremely frustrated that you can buy many name-brand products at, near, or sometimes even below dealer cost online. They hate it because it means they make less money, I just think it’s the free market at work.

Anyway:

Crutchfield: You’re paying full price, but they’ve been around forever, have an excellent reputation, and provide good customer service. You also get tech support, booklets for how to disassemble your car’s dash…but most of all, they (in most cases) provide the installation kit, wiring harness adapter, and antenna adapter included for free with the sale.

You didn’t say what year your Vue is, but these three essential installation parts can run up to $50 at full retail.

Other options: You can almost always find the same product you checked out on Crutchfield, but for at or near dealer cost on eBay, or discount sites like Sonic Electronics, Woofers Etc., and so forth.

Expect to find little to no help if the product fails. Even if it’s under warranty, it’s up to you to send it in to the manufacturer. No tech support. The radio won’t include the installation parts—again, expect to pay around $50 if you buy the parts from Best Buy (their markup on accessories is ridiculous), or around $30 at Wal Mart.

My recommendation: Look into both options, price things out, and make your choice.

That is, first find the radio you like on Crutchfield.

Then price out the same thing on eBay, maybe even the kit/harness/antenna adapter too. You can often find some DIY installation guides on the message boards…just put “saturn vue forums” into Google and you’ll surely find something.

Then compare the price difference. If Crutchfield’s reliability and reputation are worth the price to you, go with them. Otherwise, take a chance and buy it the cheaper way.

P.S. I assume you are installing this yourself, correct?

If you plan on hiring a local car-audio shop to install equipment you purchased elsewhere, keep in mind they might charge more than their usual rates, as they usually expect to make profit on both the product and the labor.

They also may or may not be willing to use installation kits other than the ones they sell.

Thanks, everyone. I know Crutchfield’s reputation, so I think I’ll stick with them. I’ll have to run to Best Buy to actually look at decks tonight, though.

On a related topic, is Kenwood a decent brand of deck? Again, all I need is to be able to play my iPod and CD’s along with the basic AM/FM radio. Should I get a deck with the USB port to charge and control the iPod, or just an AUX jack? Is the USB port really worth the extra $50?

If I were you, I would check out Crutchfield.

Funny you should ask. Due to a small error on the part of my mechanic, they just paid for a new radio for my 2004 Saturn VUE. I am paying for or installing it myself. Ordered this from Crutchfield and it arrives today. Had a local shop estimate that a similar radio and installation would run me $380. I figured I can do better.

I can update on the easy of install using Crutchfield’s instructions and the quality of this particular radio. I went with the USB port for easy of charging, plugging in the pod, and all around compatibility, plus HD tuner built in.

That one looks great! I’m not sure about HD radio, though; the list for Phoenix is pretty weak. I may get the similar model that just doesn’t have the HD tuner built in.

Yeah, I didn’t have any need for HD radio. But figured since I wasn’t paying for it, I would get a deck with it. Surprising that Phoenix does not have a good HD lineup. Seems like Columbus is supposed to have a pretty decent group of stations. Probably never use it anyway with the USB connection to the iPod.

Don’t let the not in stock status throw you off. I ordered mine a couple of weeks ago, and Crutchfield thought they would have it in stock by March 31.

Follow-up: The Kenwood was installed by Best Buy in about half an hour, and I like it. The Crutchfield kit had everything they needed, avoiding a bunch of marked up kits from BB. The sound quality is good, the iPod control is wonderful to have, HD radio - jury is out but will probably be nice.