Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Do Factory Radios Get Stolen Anymore?

Back in the 80s when I was growing up, I would hear about people’s factory radios getting stolen from their cars. I don’t seem to hear about that very much anymore, so I was wondering why.

I don’t remember much about the 80s factory radios themselves, but thinking about today’s factory radios, I’m wondering what some of the major differences were that might affect this. For example, in addition to the anti-theft measures built into many newer factory radios, there doesn’t seem to be much interchangeability between car models. In other words, I don’t think there are very many people who would be able to take a factory radio from a Cadillac and make it work in a Kia.

This leaves me with the following conclusions:

Factory radios of the 1980s-

-were able to be removed much more quickly and easily
-did not often have any anti-theft measures built in
-were far more interchangeable between car models
-were not as common in cars as factory radios are today, therefore creating demand

Am I correct?

Points 1 through 3 are correct, but they were common in cars by the '80s. And media had changed from 8-tracks to cassettes by the '80s, so there was a desire to upgrade.

I will say this

Many factory radios are “married” to the vehicle they’re installed in
All control modules communicate over various networks and the factory radio looks for the VIN.

Other factory radios have a security code. Usually 4 or 5 numbers. You can pay a fee to get the code if you provide the radio’s serial number.

Now they are, but not in the '70s and 80s.

Short answer is no. The price of an often better aftermarket head unit is now so low why waste time stealing an often ugly huge factory unit

@Proacfan My Camry’s factory radio isn’t that great.

But an aftermarket radio definitely won’t work with the steering wheel controls.
Which I love and use every day.
Not a worthwhile tradeoff for me.

I agree with @thesamemountainbike about the older radios. Cars in the 70s and 80s had terrible factory sound systems. All of them. They were okay for the time, but terrible compared to what’s being offered today.

Huh, after three years I just discovered I had steering wheel controls. Started pushing buttons I hadn’t pushed before and the station changed. To each his own.

I think they are more interested in GPS units, CDs, and laptops now for quick cash than radios. They were afte wire wheel covers for a while too but you can’t give them away now.

Todays ‘‘radios’’…aka sound systems are far too componentized to ever be able to just steal the ‘‘radio’’.
The part where you see the station numbers — may be separate from the part with the buttons on it — may be separate from the radio freqeuncy reciever —may be separate from the CD player — may be separate from the amplifier(s) etc,etc.

Stealing any of it without stealing all of it leaves one with nothing useable. Much of which is integrated in other vehicle modules and not stealable …ever.

Therefore the biggest problem with that is the massive vandalism damage done when they see there’s nothing to steal ! :frowning:

Please, steal my factory radio.

@db4690; with an interface which usually costs around $35, you can program your steering wheel controls to work with any aftermarket unit.

@Bing; I always thought that the steering wheel control was stupid. After-all, how fr are the dials from you anyway. But now that I have had them in my cars, I have a hard time with the car that doesn’t have it. I guess it is like the TV remote, makes us lazier.

@galant please post the link to that interface

In case I ever want to replace my factory head unit.

Latest news - am/fm radios will start being deleted over the next 2-5 years.

@db4690; This is one example for a 2005 Camry without JBL system;

There are others too. For my 2010 Mazda CX-9, I have found another one that actually would also let me have the clock and gas mileage functions (these are integrated in the OEM radio), with an aftermarket unit. I have done this research to put in a rearview camera/nav system; only on the fence because I am worried my radio reception would get even worse (CA boonies)…

@galant thank you

Somebody really has it in for me.

Out of everybody that posted, I’m the one that got hit with an off-topic.

But don’t worry.

I’ll take one for the team.

In the 80’s the factory radio was built to high quality standards, designed for auto use, and competed well in audio performance and functionality compared to the aftermarket versions. If your factory radio broke, you’d usually prefer an exact replacement, another factory radio. Today, while the factory radios remain high quality, the aftermarket radios are inexpensive, rugged enough for auto use, and have features even the factory radios don’t have, like being able to plug in a USB stick and play mp3’s from it. That’s a real plus. If my factory radio broke, I would be more likely to purchase an aftermarket radio to replace it, rather than hunting down a (possibly stolen) factory original. The market for a stolen factory radio just isn’t as big now.

I always thought that the steering wheel control was stupid. After-all, how fr are the dials from you anyway. But now that I have had them in my cars, I have a hard time with the car that doesn't have it. I guess it is like the TV remote, makes us lazier.

I wouldn’t say lazier, it does allow one to keep one’s eyes on the road. If someone reached for the knobs/buttons, one could spill a drink or take their eyes off the road for too long.
I do like how my info is near eye level for all of my controls so I don’t have to look down to see what the volume is set at or what the temp/fan speed is for my defrost/ac. I think it was the Tribeca I test drove that had the temperature digitally displayed on the dial itself.