Many people think that touch screens are only for expensive luxury cars. But, of course, this is not true, and the fact is, these unique devices that bring the digital world to your fingertips are relatively cheap and easy to install.
So, how to upgrade car radio to a touch screen? Let’s find out.
As a general rule, depending on the space available in your dashboard, you will either fit a Single DIN or Double DIN touch screen. The upgrade to the touch screen includes:
- Removing the dashboard panel.
- Removing the old unit.
- Installing a new wiring harness.
- Fitting the new unit.
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Tip: There are hundreds of different car radios on the market. Choosing the best for your needs may be a little overwhelming, but do not panic.
I have done the job for you, and below, you see my best picks for a Single-DIN and a Double DIN radio with a touch screen.
Alpine iLX-F309 – Best Single DIN car radio with touch screen
JVC KW-Z1000W – Best Double DIN car radio with touch screen
In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about touch screen units and how to install them.
From their sizes to their price, if they will fit in your old car, the tools you will need, and more. I will also share my top picks on the market to make your choice a little easier.
Can I Replace a Car Radio With a Touch Screen?
Absolutely, and for the most part, no matter what car you have, you can replace your current radio or infotainment system with a sparkling new one.
Technology is a far cry from what it used to be, especially in terms of car audio, and that goes for your actual car stereo as well.
Days are gone where you only could have a radio with a CD player, and perhaps if you are lucky enough, a USB port so you can plug your phone in and listen to your favorite tunes.
Nowadays, many cars come with an infotainment system toped off to include all the bells and whistles. This means you get a touch screen, navigation, streaming services, and other apps.
Some infotainment systems even include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, where you can sync your phones and set up your infotainment system to cater to your every in-car need.
This technology is not even new per se, as Apple CarPlay has been around since 2014.
However, many people still think that the radio in their car is all they can have, and no additional features or even replacements can be fitted without costing hundreds of dollars if not thousands.
What if the Touch Screen Won’t Fit In My Car?
Cars nowadays are designed with standards in mind. This means that for the most part, if you are driving a regular vehicle, the dashboard and radio unit is built to a specific size.
You won’t find radios that are made to be much bigger or much smaller than what is considered a standard.
Of course, this does not mean that every car is the same, but for the most part, you can find a replacement radio, touch screen (infotainment system) that will fit your vehicle.
There are two types of touch screen sizes (infotainment systems) designed to fit either a vehicle with a large dashboard opening for radio (2 DIN) or a small opening (Single-DIN).
Furthermore, if the touchscreen does not precisely fit, you are more than likely able to find a stereo installation kit that includes a bracket for the specific make and model of your car.
Single DIN Head Unit
The most common size that most especially older cars can accommodate is the Single DIN unit.
The measurement of a standard (single) DIN slot is 2-1/8inch (50mm) in height by 7-1/8inch (180mm) in length.
Most vehicles will be expected to have the size, but if they don’t, you can always find a stereo installation kit that will help you install this size head unit.
Double DIN Head Unit
The Double DIN unit typically measures 7 inches x 4 inches (180mm x 100mm).
Again this is the standard, and more than likely, your car, if it is equipped with a Double DIN unit, will be this size, and if not, you can always find a stereo installation kit.
One of the best places to find stereo installation kits is at Crutchfield.
They are renowned for their car audio expertise and will surely help you find what you are looking for regarding any car audio situation you find yourself struggling with.
Can You Put a Touch Screen Radio in an Older Car?
You can most certainly put a touch screen unit in your old vehicle as long as it has a standard size.
You will just need to figure out what size your car requires.
All the new head units will come with a wiring harness, and you can also purchase any additional ones that you may need if so required.
If your car has a Single DIN slot, you can purchase touchscreens that fold in and out, and if you have space available for a Double DIN unit, you need to worry even less because you will have even more options to choose from.
Can I Add a Touch Screen to a Single Din Radio?
You are definitely able to add a touch screen to your car, even if you only have the space available for a Single DIN unit.
The touch screen will fold in and out and tucks itself away inside the available space.
If you do not want to go too expensive, a fantastic choice of the Single DIN unit with touch screen is the Jensen CNN 10 with its fully adjustable 10.1″ screen. If you want to try it in your car, check the latest price on Amazon.
How Much Does It Cost to Put a Touch Screen in a Car?
Depending on which touch screen you are looking for and its features, you are looking at anything from $100 to $1000 and above.
If you plan to take it into a car audio installation shop, you have to add the price for labor, which can be as little as $125 and can go as high as $400.
If you are planning to do a DIY installation of the unit yourself, you are only looking at the unit’s price and the tools you will require, and your time.
How to Add a Touch Screen to a Car Dashboard?
Tools Needed to Install Car Stereo Touch Screen
The tools you need may vary depending on the model of your car and your dashboard, but for most instances and 90% of the time, you will most likely require these tools or slight variations of them.
I guess you have the majority of these tools in your garage, and if not, I added below Amazon links to tools I use, and I am happy with their quality.
Accessories You Will Need For a Touch Screen Installation
Besides the tools, there are accessories that you will need to make the task much easier to perform:
You will have to see if any retailers sell a kit specifically for your car regarding the stereo installation kit and wiring harness.
Take note that the touchscreen size won’t matter. This is because your touch screen will either be a Single DIN unit or a Double DIN unit depending on how much space you have in your dashboard.
How to Install a Touch Screen Car Stereo – Step By Step Tutorial
Take note that before you begin the process, I will explain all steps as universal, and you should be able to apply this process to almost any vehicle.
Disconnect the Ground Wire From the Battery
The first thing you will need to do is disconnect the battery. You want to do this because you do not wish to have power flowing through the vehicle. This is in case you short out a wire or pop fuses which could lead to all sorts of nightmares.
Remove the Existing Radio From the Dash
The next step is to remove the radio that is currently in your vehicle. You will do this by removing the dashboard panel. The main thing to remember here is finding where the panels are screwed or bolted to the car’s frame. These can be in various places depending on your vehicle, but they should be easy to find for the most part.
You will typically start at the bottom of your dashboard and work your way up unscrewing and using the pry tools to dislodge the panel from the frame.
One crucial factor to note is that screws can be located behind switches and knobs on your dashboard, so you need to consider this.
Once you have the panel removed, you will typically find that the radio is screwed into place by a couple of 10mm screws (this may vary depending on the vehicle). This can also depend if your radio is still the factory radio or you have had an aftermarket one put in place.
Remove Wire Connections From the Radio
Once you have removed the screws and taken the head unit out, the next step is to remove the connections linked to the radio.
Connect Harness From Your New Radio With the Car Wires
Next, you will need to prep the aftermarket harness with your vehicle’s wiring harness.
This step is easier than you think because all car radios have the same color scheme for their wiring. All you need to do is match up the wires for each harness and either sell them together or use the butt plugs and crimp tool to secure them.
For this step, you will proceed and use the wire cutters and wire strippers to make sure all wires are connected correctly.
Check the New Stereo Installation Kit
Once you have connected the new soldering harness, you will check your stereo installation kit for any brackets and mounts.
If the kit does come with brackets, you will see where you need to place them on your DIN unit and in your dashboard.
For a Single DIN unit, the installation is a tad bit different. A Double DIN unit will come with mounts or brackets, but a Single DIN unit will come with a cage, and you will need to put the cage and frames together.
This task is also simple enough, and you should not have any problem with it.
Place a Car Radio Into the Dash
The last thing left to do is to place your new head unit on the dash of your car.
You will first connect the wiring harness and then mount the head unit with screws, followed by replacing the dashboard panel. That’s it!
If you prefer a visual explanation, check out a short video below, where guys from Sonic Electronix will drive you through the whole installation process in detail.
Which Is the Best Single Din Touch Screen Car Radio?
My absolute number one Single DIN touch screen radio is the Alpine iLX-F309 HALO9.
Why? It has a large 9″ WVGA capacitive touchscreen that ‘floats’ in front of the dash. The best thing about this radio is that you can adjust the mounting angle and height of the screen for the best position.
On top of the excellent touch screen, Alpine iLX-F309 can support a range of audio playback features like Bluetooth, HD radio, or SiriusXM satellite radio.
You can also choose to buy this option bundled with a front and rear camera and connecting equipment for a complete audio and camera integration for your car.
Finally, Alpine allows control on various equipment like extra lighting, winches, and toolboxes with the additional KAC-001 accessory controller.
While the iLX-F309 has many features and options to expand, it can become expensive but well worth the price with all additional equipment.
Which is the best Double DIN touch screen car radio?
You cannot go wrong with this one. It has all of the features you can expect, like Bluetooth and Android Auto, and comes with a range of other desirable functions, such as the JVC Streaming DJ feature, which allows up to five paired smartphones to control music streaming.
This stereo also offers you a lot of control over your music, as it has 5-volt preamp outputs, K2 sound enhancement, and a 13-band EQ.
All these options are perfect if you plan to extend your car sound system and add an aftermarket amp, speakers, and sub.
Touch screen radios are not only available to people who can afford high-end luxury or sports cars like years ago, but to anyone who drives a vehicle with a radio can install a touch screen stereo.
Contrary to mainstream thinking, these units come in sizes that will typically fit your car, and if not, there is always an installation kit that you can find for your car make and model.
Furthermore, they are relatively inexpensive but can range above the $1000 mark depending on the unit and its features.
DIY installation is easy, but if you prefer to have a professional install your touch screen, you are probably looking at $200 to spend.