Four Reasons You Shouldn't Replace A Factory Radio With An Aftermarket Radio

Adding an aftermarket radio system to your car can bring some exciting features, but it can also bring along problems. Lots of aftermarket radio units may not fit correctly or can cause larger electrical issues within your vehicle.

Problems Faced When Installing An Aftermarket Radio

Aftermarket radios often don’t work with entire in-car systems like Cadillac’s CUE system, which controls radio and the A/C. If you've got a CUE, you can learn more about that replacing that system here. Our team came up with this guide of things you should know before replacing your factory radio.

Interior Design

Lots of cars’ have a unique plastic faceplate surrounding your radio in the dash. If you replace the factory unit, there’s a good chance that plastic facing won’t fit properly and can leave your interior looking less than ideal. Even if the plastic faceplate does fit, there’s a chance it could cover buttons or functions of the radio.


Many models have specifically designed radio units to match the look and design of the interior. Aftermarket radios are designed to fit in a large variety of vehicles, but don’t take these design features into consideration. That means your aftermarket radio may not fit quite right and can be an eyesore.


The quality of aftermarket radios is not held to the same standard as those that originally came in your car. Within a few months of buying an aftermarket radio it isn't uncommon to find cue screens that have failed pixels, buttons can that have quit working or the entire unit has become inoperable. This can leave you with the cost of two radios to properly place the original OEM unit. 


If you’ve ever removed the radio in your car you’ll know the manufacturer uses several unique plastic connectors to connect the radio unit to the electrical system. Many aftermarket radio manufactures don’t provide compatible connectors. This means that you can spend hours trying to spice together individual wires to install the aftermarket unit. This can leave you frustrated and very likely to have issues with the new unit.


As we mentioned earlier, many newer vehicles utilize advanced in-unit systems like Cadillac’s CUE system. These systems are integrated into many aspects of your vehicle, like the A/C controls. Many aftermarket radios are not designed with these features in mind and will not allow you to control these systems.

Another note to consider when replacing the unit is the power required to run the radio. Where an OEM radio is designed around a car's electrical system, an aftermarket one is not. Let's say an OEM radio has a 2 amp draw, but your new radio has a 6 amp draw. This can lead to unwanted electrical drain on your vehicle. If your alternator was already close to maxed out, the power required by the new radio can cause other electronic components to malfunction.

At ISS Automotive, we have been providing new and remanufactured OEM radio systems for many years. If you've got a CUE system, we can either replace the unit, or provide a screen replacement. We've been replacing or repairing automotive instruments and electronic components for more than 70 years, and we have many experienced people on staff who can help you.