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Automotive Electronics – Yes

Installing automotive electronics in today’s newer vehicles should be left to those professionals that are certified or licensed installers for those vehicles and the equipment being installed. You would no more hire someone to install that new stereo system in your car that trained at “Stereo-Hut” than you would hire a guy that replaced a faucet once to take out the slab in your home to re-route pipes. Some of the commonalities that I see in the ‘No’ side of this debate is that “with a little bit of know-how” or “with the right tools….” and “I saw on TV that a car burned up one time at a stereo store….” All of those are valid points; however, none of them really address the issue at hand, nor are very fair.

One cannot assume that this electronics, vehicular construction, and specialized tool knowledge somehow appears via osmosis, or perhaps just from the internet. While an internet walk through may get you the basics of the job at hand, it does not contextualize the process with prior knowledge of many other installations on a particular type of vehicle, and all the little things that can go wrong with it. The electronic design of any car less than 10 year old has become so complex that there are certifications that pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to those professionals that have taken the time to train under that make of vehicle. Let them do their jobs! They are trained by the manufacturer themselves to install the equipment seamlessly, without voiding your warranty, and they are bonded in their work, so if something DOES happen, it can be addressed at no financial risk to you, the owner. I worked on computer systems in the Army, and am a ‘do-it-yourself’ kind of guy, but I don’t consider myself qualified to work on a Patriot Missile system, no matter what I’ve disassembled in the past.

Installing specialized electronics in today’s cars requires a specific knowledge of the vehicle and equipment in question, and while I agree that any “bargain box/Electronic Store” employee should not do it, I have to question why a do it yourselfer thinks that they will be able to fare any better. At least the box store employee has some access to manuals and specialized tools, and the store is bonded. If you attempt to do it on your own you run the risk of voiding your warranty at best, and at worst creating an unseen problem in the electronics systems of your vehicle that could cause malfunction, injury, or possibly death. If the installation requires more than sticky tape or a few wires in an existing harness than it would be best to leave it to the experts.

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