Car stereo upgrades traditionally revolved around adding CD or cassette decks to your dash. This evolved into integrating USB and Bluetooth capabilities later on. In the age of smart technology, modern drivers want to replicate the ease of media, navigation and communications from their cell phone into the dashboard with a touchscreen.
All car dashes have at least a 7×2” single-din media unit. The space for the stereo control was standardized by a globally accepted technical standard developed in Germany in the early 1900s. The DIN is utilized by most vehicle radio companies and automakers.
As smart features and weaving their way even further into car systems management, newer vehicles are being produced with a Double DIN head unit instead of the single. This 7×4” space is for the touchscreen that replaces the radio.
Car touchscreens can be installed for both single and double DIN units. Installers can mount them in three ways.
The majority of these touchscreen receivers also include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions. These mimic the smartphone menu onto your display – keeping you safer on the roads and hands off your phone.
The touchscreens are easier to read than a single din line display that takes ages to scroll through a media title, and requires you to press buttons multiple times to change a setting. With a smartphone connected to your stereo, most functions can be accessed via voice command with Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant.
Most units will let you customize the background and layout of the screen – which Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also offer. The leeway with your personal preferences – setting up Do Not Disturb while driving, hands-free dialing and navigation, dark screen backgrounds – results in less time fuzting with the dash or looking at your phone and a safer ride.
Music Tone Controls for bass, midrange and treble plus balance and fade are adjustable in most car stereos. Touchscreens receivers may offer more equalizer options to tap into the full capability of your speakers. Some units can run vehicle diagnostics and adjust climate controls.
Since 2018, most cars come equipped with backup or rear-view cameras. If you’re adding this feature to an older model vehicle, a touchscreen is a necessity to view the scope of your camera footage without needing to crank around in your seat. Back-up cameras usually offer a wider field of view in conjunction with on-screen parking and/or spacing guides.
A newer car stereo can come equipped with multiple camera inputs, so you can add more factory or aftermarket cameras to generate side views.
A car touchscreen is a new way to view and control car systems, but requires a few minutes of setup before driving off. So you’re not distracted on the road with a new toy. Most touchscreens won’t let you access settings menus or keyboards while the vehicle is moving.
- Adjust the screen settings, set the display how you like. This means background, lighting, and auto-dimming functions.
- Practice the functions you use the most. Try turning the display on and off, make a hands-free call, change the volume. See how your steering wheel controls work with the new unit.