There are several different ways you can have SiriusXM in a vehicle.
If your car radio is SiriusXM-ready, you’ll have to buy a tuner and have an active subscription to enjoy this service.
On the other hand, if your radio is incompatible with SiriusXM, you can either get a SiriusXM radio, use the SiriusXM app from your phone via Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, or upgrade to SiriusXM-ready car radio (and then connect a tuner to it).
This article will discuss these methods and their pros/cons in detail.
What is SiriusXM?
For those who don’t know, SiriusXM is a satellite radio service that gives users access to a wide range of ad-free music, sports, news, and comedy content.
Since it relies on satellite radio, the audio quality in SiriusXM is noticeably better than what you get on FM or AM radio.
Other flagship features include exclusive content (in the form of live events), virtually no reception issues in the US, a wide range of music genres (including non-mainstream content), play-by-play coverage for different leagues such as NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, and seamless integration with car audio systems.
It has some downside, too, in the form of a monthly subscription fee, reliance on an active internet connection (no offline listening), and a less intuitive UI.
But the pros outweigh the cons by a good margin overall.
How can I get SiriusXM in My Car?
There are four common ways to have SiriusXM functionality in your vehicle. And the one you’ll go with will depend on your vehicle, car radio, and budget.
1. Install a Sirius Satellite Radio Tuner
The SiriusXM radio tuner will be perfect if you have a SiriusXM-compatible car radio. To confirm that your car radio is compatible, look around for a SiriusXM-ready logo somewhere around it (or on the box if it’s an aftermarket radio).
If it’s there, then you can go ahead. Otherwise, you’ll have to look for an alternative solution.
Assuming that your radio is compatible, the next step is to choose a mounting location for the antenna. This location is crucial for the proper signal reception and can vary depending on your vehicle type (sedan, SUV, convertible, etc.).
In most cases, though, the ideal location for the antenna will be the rear center or front center of the roof (above the back window or the windshield). The surface should be flat, and the face of the antenna should be facing the sky (for better reception).
If you already have another antenna installed in those locations, the distance between the two antennas should be 3 inches at least.
Once you’ve installed the antenna, you’ll have to route its cable from the roof to the head unit. And then connect that cable to the tuner.
After that, pull out your head unit from the dash panel, and connect the tuner to the head unit through the SiriusXM connector. Then secure the tuner by fixing it behind the head unit using wire ties and install the head unit back into the dash panel.
The main downside of this method is the lengthy installation time and cable management. That’s why I suggest you hire a mechanic for a cleaner installation.
2. Install A SiriusXM Radio
If your car radio is not SiriusXM-ready, you can use a SiriusXM radio, such as SiriusXM SXWB1V1.
A SiriusXM radio is similar to a SiriusXM tuner except for a few additional accessories like a docking station, a cigarette lighter adapter, and extra cables.
Its main advantage over the tuner is the multiple ways to connect with your car radio, such as AUX, FM radio, or even a cassette adapter.
The main disadvantage, just like the SiriusXM tuner, is the extra wires you need to take care of.
3. Use Android Auto/Apple Carplay
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay allow your vehicle to have SiriusXM functionality without installing any extra hardware.
Using these platforms, you can connect your Android phone/iPhone to the head unit and run different applications, including SiriusXM, right from the head unit.
First, you’ll need to install the SiriusXM app on your iPhone/Android smartphone. Then, connect your phone to the head unit through a USB cable.
If your head unit supports wireless CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, you can use Bluetooth/WiFi instead of that USB cable.
Once you’ve made the connection, you can open the SiriusXM app from the head unit interface and enjoy streaming your favorite channels.
The primary issue with this method is that it requires a CarPlay/Android Auto-enabled head unit, which is only commonly found in the latest vehicles by default.
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4. Upgrade to a SiriusXM-ready Head Unit
If none of the above methods work for you, the only option left is to upgrade to a SiriusXM-ready aftermarket radio and then use a SiriusXM tuner.
Contrary to what many people believe, not all SiriusXM-compatible radios are expensive. You can find many single-din, inexpensive radios with this functionality, such as JVC KD-T92MBS.
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So these were some popular ways to have SiriusXM functionality in your vehicle.
My personal favorite is using SiriusXM app installed in your phone from the head unit via Carplay/Android Auto. But not all cars have this functionality by default, and most aftermarket Carplay/Android Auto head units cost $450-$500 on average.
Installing a SiriusXM tuner is a cheaper alternative and will work for most cars, but you’ll have to manage the cables smartly.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to have SiriusXM in A car?
The overall cost will vary depending on the SiriusXM installation method. For example, you can get a decent SiriusXM radio for around 100 bucks, while an Android Auto/Carplay-enabled head unit can cost up to $500.
On top of that, SiriusXM offers different subscriptions that cost you $13-$23/m, depending on the features. All these things make it challenging to have an accurate estimate beforehand.
How do I know if my car is compatible with SiriusXM?
There are multiple ways to find out if your car is SiriusXM-ready. First, you should look for the SiriusXM-ready logo around your car radio. Then, look out for the ‘SAT’ button or check the radio settings if the logo is not there.
You can also read the owner’s manual, as there will be some information if your vehicle is compatible with SiriusXM. Lastly, you can go to this page on the SiriusXM website and check your vehicle’s compatibility by entering its year, make, and model.
Do I have to pay for SiriusXM in my car?
Yes, SiriusXM requires a monthly fee, which varies depending on your chosen package.
Why Is SiriusXM radio Not working in my car?
There can be several reasons why SiriusXM radio is not working in your car, such as SiriusXM subscription issues, obstructed radio antenna, cables between SiriusXM radio and your head unit not securely connected, etc.
Can you listen to SiriusXM without cell service?
Yes, you can use SiriusXM without the cell service. It is a satellite radio service that relies on satellites to transmit signals.
How To Remove SiriusXM from Your Car?
To remove SiriusXM, you’ll have to cancel its subscription and remove any associated hardware you have installed.
How to activate your SiriusXM Radio
Turn your SiriusXM radio/tuner to Channel 0. It will give you a radio ID number (SID/ESN). Note down this number. Then, go to the activation page, click on Activate button, and enter the radio ID. This will initiate the activation process. If you don’t want online activation, dial 866-635-8634 from your phone and enter your radio ID to begin this process.
John is an automotive enthusiast who has been passionate about cars and car audio systems for over 25 years.