The antenna mast, or simply the antenna in a car boosts reception for radio signals, communication devices, and satellites that provide XM radio signals and even wifi hotspots inside a vehicle. Once upon a time these antennas stood tall off the front of the car and whipped in the wind as you drove.
But more modern designs feature telescoping antennas, windshield integrated antennas, and small shark fin-style antennas that do a better job with a less conspicuous design. The average cost to replace a car antenna is $148 on the low-end and $164 on the high end.
The style of antenna and cost of labor are the most significant factors affecting the overall cost to replace a car antenna. Labor costs between $58 on the low-end and $74 on the high-end. Parts average around $90.
A car antenna works by creating a larger base to intercept and receive signal information from a variety of sources. The goal is to create an effective, seamless design that integrates with the car so that the user doesn’t notice the presence of the antenna.
Without an antenna, radio waves tend to bounce over a car instead of being intercepted by the car which results in poor quality transmissions. The same principle works for navigation systems and satellite signals.
As a car antenna begins to fail, signals have trouble reaching the receiver. Some users will see a lost signal message or experience significant static on all AM/FM channels with little range from the source of the transmission.
You may be able to self-diagnose a failing car antenna. If you take it to a shop, plan to spend $20 – $60 for labor to diagnose the problem. Small shops in rural areas are most likely to fall on the lower end of the range while dealers in larger cities will have the highest prices.
If a car antenna failure is expected, a technician will test the car’s antenna circuit to confirm the diagnosis. If any shortening is found, the technician will move on to checking the signal wire and then the wire harness for defects.
One or both of these components may be replaced, in addition to the antenna mast if any problems are suspected. If not, just the antenna is replaced. If a new car antenna does not correct the problem, the radio may also be replaced.
OEM Replacement Antennas for Top 10 Most Popular Cars
|Ford F-Series Pickup||$26.99|
|Hyndai Santa Fe||$18.72|
Replacing a car antenna is a simple repair. In most cars, it can be as simple as unscrewing the existing antenna from its base and disconnecting the coaxial cable and ground wire, and then replacing it with the new antenna.
The entire job from diagnosing the problem to replacing the defective part should be 1-2 hours of labor or around $60.
Replacing a car antenna mast is simple to diagnose and repair. If the only problem is a fault external antenna mast, most people can save the cost of labor and make the repair themselves for around $90 in parts.
Top Aftermarket Car Antennas
When you are replacing car parts due to broken or faulty equipment, there is a range of options available that can help you save money. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts are produced by the same manufacturer that provided the original equipment and are guaranteed to be of the same quality.
And that is a good starting point for many drivers. But depending on what your goals are, OEM isn’t always the best choice.
There is an even broader range of aftermarket parts that meet different goals ranging from cost savings to enhanced performance. Depending on the make, model, and year of the vehicle OEM parts range from $20.00 on the low end to as much as $90 on the high end.
By comparison, aftermarket car antennas range from $10 on the low end to $40 on the high end.
Key Features of OEM and Aftermarket Car Antennas to Consider
All car antennas essentially do the same job. Some brands work better than others. It’s a natural result of providing a range of products to meet different price points in the aftermarket parts niche.
Aside from performance, what features should you consider? The design of the antenna is the first important consideration. Mast-style antennas that are either stationary or telescoping are more common on older vehicles.
But between the force of windspeeds while driving and accidental damage from car washes, they are prone to damage. This is why many car manufacturers have moved towards the small shark-fin or bullet-shaped antennas that mount to the windshield.
Another consideration is the material of the antenna. The most common materials include rubber, stainless steel, and plastic.
Stainless steel is non-corrosive and durable, but rubber and plastic antennas are commonly considered more weather-resistant. You should also look at the assembly instructions and factor in the ease of assembly, as well as customer support in your final decision.
Do You Need to Replace a Bad Car Antenna
While traditional mast antennas are quickly becoming a thing of the past, you may still want to replace the antenna. It is possible to update your car antenna to a more modern and digital option using an aftermarket bullet-style antenna.
This can be helpful for modernizing your vehicle electronics and improving your radio reception. These days most people are streaming content like music and podcasts from their smartphones using wireless data and Bluetooth connections.
There is a good chance you don’t even need to replace a bad am/fm antenna if you don’t use it.
Some makes and models of cars contain antennas inside the windshield. This provides a seamless design for satellite signals, but it can make replacement much more costly.
If you chip your windshield or if your antenna quits working, expect to spend in excess of $500 to replace the entire windshield with an integrated antenna.
However, most car manufacturers have moved towards placing the antenna externally using a shark fin or bullet-style antenna for cost and efficacy.
The Bottom Line
A faulty or broken car antenna can make it difficult to get your favorite radio station, use navigation features, or even make calls from inside your car. With all of the high-tech features integrated into modern cars, a bad antenna can be a big disruption to the user experience.
This makes it a big priority for car owners to replace a bad antenna. Luckily, the cost of parts and labor on this relatively simple repair is on the low end for all major makes and models of cars.
Drivers should expect to spend between $148 and $164 to replace a car antenna. However, keep in mind that sometimes the wiring or radio may need to be replaced as well.