How to buy a car stereo online

Ever been tempted to buy a car stereo online? Then you've probably stopped to think about the biggest challenge you'll face: you won't be able to play-test the stereo before you buy it. There's something to be said for cruising by the stereo shop and testing out the sound of the model you're considering.

But that doesn't mean it's a bad idea to buy a car stereo online. You just have to know what you're in for. Here are some ways to make sure you get what you want at a price you can live with:

  1. Decide which features you can't live without. The web can be an incredibly frustrating place to shop when you don't really know what you want. You'll have a million options at your fingertips - and they'll all look equally good. (Wasn't this one of Dante's levels of hell?)

    So, before you begin the hardcore web surfing, sit down with a piece of paper (yes, paper) and write out a list of features you want. How many amps? How many speakers? Need a USB port, or the ability to plug in your iDevices? Figure it all out now, so that you'll be able to use precise search terms and save yourself time later on.

  2. Check out your preferred stereo model in person. Go to a stereo shop and listen to what they have. Write down some model names for future reference. If a pushy salesman approaches you, tell him you're just doing some research for now. Then, when you get home, find the best deal on that model online.

    Of course, you may find that the store had a better price than any website - especially if they're running a sale. Note their prices, and don't be afraid to come back if you can't beat the price on the web.

  3. Carefully find and purchase your exact model on the web. Make sure you haven't actually added a slightly different model to your cart. It's easy to make this mistake on a website that offers dozens of different stereo models.

That's all there is to it. These tips may seem painfully obvious, but we've found that when you're bombarded with different models and configurations, it's best to start by spending a few minutes in slow, careful thought.

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