What do you need to know about car audio systems?

Where Can I Find the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?

The vehicle identification number (VIN) is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN displays the car's unique features, specifications and manufacturer.

The VIN can be found in a couple of places including on the car's registration label (1), on the compliance plate in the engine bay (2) or on the passenger side windshield (3), or on one of the door posts (where the door latches when it is closed) (4). See the image below:

Look for the VIN in these other locations:

  • Insurance card/Insurance policy
  • Vehicle title and registration certificate


Do you love long road trips because you can crank the music and listen to your favourite albums one after the other without being disturbed? If you have a great car audio system, you'll understand the importance of clear speakers, a booming subwoofer and the best driving songs lined up on your playlist.

When you're buying a used car, you don't want to buy a lemon. You can check that you're interested in buying with a CarHistory report, but what about the sound system? You won't be able to test the audio in the car until you take it for a test drive. Here's what you should look out for:

An aftermarket head unit

Many new car audio systems are very good and won't require modification to get the best possible sound. However, when you're buying an older car, you might find that some of the components are worn and don't produce a crystal-clear tune.



That's why people install aftermarket head units - these are the systems in the centre console that typically light up and tell you what radio station you're listening to1. Some produce a better sound than others, and some are Bluetooth-enabled. If your potential next car has one, make sure to test it during a drive to see if everything works as it should, and that the buttons aren't broken.

Speakers that don't crackle

When you're testing out the sound system, pump the volume and listen out for any crackles.

Over time, car speakers can break and produce a less clear sound2. When you turn the volume up, you'll notice the imperfections a lot more, which isn't ideal. Before you fork out money for a car, you must ensure you won't have to spend hundreds of dollars replacing all of the speakers in the vehicle only a few months down the track.

When you're testing out the sound system, pump the volume and listen out for any crackles.

A strong, professionally installed amplifier

An amplifier is what increases the audio signal from the head unit, and pushes a clear noise through the speakers and the subwoofer1. Aftermarket amps are everywhere, but many people will install them by themselves, instead of taking it to a car audio specialist.

Avoid cars like this, because you never know how well the wires have been installed, or if everything works exactly as it should. A DIY job is easy to spot - look for an amp in the boot that isn't firmly attached to the floor or to a solid surface, or one that has wires coming out of it.

No music enthusiast wants to buy a car with a poor audio system - make sure you don't and follow these easy tips. For more information about a used car you're looking at, get in touch with CarHistory today.

1. Lifewire. Car Audio Basics: Head Units, Amplifiers, and Speakers. Accessed February 2017.

2. Lifewire. Why Did My Car Speakers Stop Working? Accessed February 2017.

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