Site Owner & Radio Enthusiast
Satellite radio is static-free, uncensored entertainment accessible across the country. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a long drive you have planned. However, you’re unsure if your vehicle supports this form of radio. Can any car get satellite radio?
Newer vehicles often come with SiriusXM dealer installed. Pre-owned and used vehicles produced in 2004 and up usually have satellite radio equipment. However, older vehicles probably do not. You can retrofit an older car with satellite radio equipment.
This guide to enjoying car satellite radio will tell you which vehicles support satellite radio, how to know if yours does, and what your options are if it doesn’t.
Do All Cars Get Satellite Radio?
Car satellite radio is fun to listen to, so it’s a wonder it’s not a feature offered in every car.
Vehicles produced since the 2000s, when satellite radio became a standard in America and other countries, should offer SiriusXM as a standard.
SiriusXM works with major automaking brands to ensure it.
If not standard, you can request the radio as a dealer or factory-installed addition to enjoy 24/7 radio entertainment, including stations dedicated to your favorite artists.
Certified pre-owned and used vehicles produced within that timeframe should also have the equipment for listening to sat radio.
What if your vehicle is older than that?
It’s difficult to speak for every make and model of car or truck. That said, older vehicles are unlikely to have satellite equipment preinstalled.
How Do I Know If My Car Has Satellite Radio?
Are you wondering whether your car has satellite radio? Fortunately, you don’t have to deliberate it long.
You have many methods to ascertain whether your car stereo can support a streaming satellite service.
Search for a SiriusXM Logo on the Dash
Let’s begin with the easiest one, which is the presence of a SiriusXM logo on your vehicle’s stereo or elsewhere on the dashboard.
This logo doesn’t necessarily mean your vehicle has satellite radio but that it’s SiriusXM-ready.
However, the absence of a logo doesn’t guarantee that your vehicle can’t support satellite radio. Instead, the manufacturer might have just chosen to exclude a logo.
Check SiriusXM’s Vehicle Availability Index
Since a SiriusXM logo isn’t a surefire way to guarantee that your vehicle supports satellite radio, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup option.
SiriusXM created a Vehicle Availability Index to tell whether your vehicle has satellite radio.
This tool is straightforward to use. Scroll down, select the year your vehicle was produced, then choose the make and model.
The site will reveal whether you can use SiriusXM in that vehicle.
You can also learn whether the vehicle is compatible with SiriusXM services such as SiriusXM Travel Link and SiriusXM Traffic.
Read Your Owner’s Manual
Do you still have doubts about whether your car gets satellite radio? You can always thumb through your owner’s manual and find the information there.
The vehicle manufacturer should have an online manual copy if you can’t find yours.
Find the SAT Button
Check your dashboard; do you see a SAT button?
SAT is short for satellite. The button is typically adjacent to the CD disc and AM/FM buttons.
The button indicates that your vehicle has a satellite receiver, so you’re ready to begin listening to satellite radio.
Can I Retrofit an Older Vehicle with Satellite Radio? How?
After trying the above methods, you were dismayed that your car does not get satellite radio.
Does this mean you have to give up on listening to SiriusXM?
Not necessarily. You can usually retrofit older vehicles with satellite radio equipment. However, your car must have a stereo.
Next, you have to decide whether you’re willing to replace the OEM radio in your car.
If you can replace the stereo, follow these steps.
1. Park your car somewhere secure and put the parking brake on. Detach the car battery’s negative terminal to turn off the electrical system while you work.
2. You might have to remove the plastic trim surrounding your current stereo to get it out. Use a screwdriver to loosen any screws or slide under the casing to dislodge it. Alternatively, pry tools come in handy.
3. Detach any wires connecting the stereo to the vehicle. You don’t have to stress about electrical shock since your car has no power, but you should still work carefully.
4. Loosen any nuts or screws keeping the radio in place. You could use a screwdriver for this, but you might need a radio removal key for some vehicle makes, such as those by Ford.
5. Position the new stereo, aligning the wires in the harness. Attach those wires to the stereo.
6. Screw the mounting kit into place and insert it into the dashboard. Put any plastic casing on.
7. Reconnect your car’s power and try out your new satellite radio.
We have a few more options for those who can’t replace their car radios or are unwilling because they worry about voiding the warranty.
Try a satellite radio adapter kit, an external module, or an FM modulator.
Satellite Radio Add-on Adapter Kit
A SiriusXM adapter kit works with any factory stereo that doesn’t currently support satellite radio.
Connect the kit using a USB port or install it under your dashboard. The latter makes more sense for older cars, as your vehicle might have been manufactured before USB ports.
One of the downsides of adapter kits is that they can look cluttered depending on the style and layout.
However, that’s not universally true, so shop around for an option that suits your dashboard.
External Satellite Module
Your other option for retaining your vehicle’s original stereo and enjoying SiriusXM entertainment is to purchase an external module.
The module includes a bracket designed to fit onto the dash. It also comes with a series of wires that connect the stereo to the satellite radio. Keep your cigarette lighter free, as you’ll need that outlet for most modules.
External modules almost always look messy. They’re just not a very streamlined technology.
However, you can listen to satellite radio, so this isn’t the worst solution.
Your last option is an FM modulator.
This includes a box-like component that goes on your dashboard. You can select your preferred satellite station via the box.
This option also suffers from adding too much to your dashboard. FM modulators are imperfect, as they can have problems with interference.
Is Satellite Radio Only for Cars?
You may have held off on using satellite radio in your car for the time being to compare your options before deciding. Can you only use SiriusXM in a car?
Not at all.
You can download the SXM App through SiriusXM to listen to satellite radio on any streaming device, including your smartphone, laptop, tablet, computer, and television.
You can take music with you on the go or enjoy it at home.
The SXM App doesn’t require external satellite equipment, so you can immediately begin listening.
However, you must pay for a SiriusXM streaming subscription to use the app.
Most cars can get satellite radio.
Newer models include SiriusXM as a standard, and many used vehicles also do.
Even if your vehicle predates satellite, you can add SiriusXM to your setup.
The most reliable way is to replace your old stereo system with a satellite radio.
Alternatively, try an FM modulator, external module, or add-on satellite adapter kit. These options work without replacing your OEM radio but can clutter your dashboard.
At the very least, you can stream SiriusXM in your car using the SXM App. You won’t get stereo-quality audio (only as good as the audio quality of the streaming device), but it’s better than nothing.