Installing subwoofers in your car can improve the sound in your vehicle, improve sound quality, and reduce the chance that you’ll blow smaller speakers when playing audio at high volumes.
However, it can be a costly job, especially if you have a factory-standard stereo in your vehicle.
Therefore, costs will vary a great deal depending on your car and any existing upgrades to your vehicle’s sound system.
In most cases, subwoofers start at about $100 and go up to over $600 in cost. You’ll need 1-2 subwoofers for your car depending on the size of the cabin. In addition, you might need cabling and even a new stereo, which will cost $100-$4,000 depending on what you want.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of car subwoofer installation cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
|Supplier||Subwoofer Cost||Cost of Labor (per speaker)|
|Walmart / InstallerNet||$33.99-$619.95||$49.99-$100|
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How Much Does Subwoofer Installation Cost?*
The cost to install a subwoofer will heavily depend on factors like the cost of the speakers, whether you’re getting a powered subwoofer or a separate amplifier, and the cost of installation.
However, that won’t change too much from vehicle to vehicle, unless you have a car that comes with a pre-installed subwoofer.
|Vehicle||Subwoofer Cost||Cost of Labor|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee||$110-$360||$86-$240|
*Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (February 2023). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
However, most vehicles don’t have existing subwoofers installed.
This means you’ll have to install a box or have one built, meaning you can install nearly any subwoofer in your car. It also means that subwoofer costs won’t depend on your car but on the subwoofer.
For example, some popular subwoofers include:
|MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D||$149-$399|
|Alpine Electronics PWE-S8||$194-$215|
|Rockford Fosgate P300||$108-$499|
*These prices are based on market research at the time of writing in February 2023 and may change at any time.
What Are Subwoofers?
Subwoofers are speakers designed to deliver low-frequency audio between 20 and 200Hz. Standard two-channel stereos, which are common in many cars, cannot achieve these frequencies.
In addition, subwoofers can come with either a built-in amplifier (powered subwoofer) or without.
Buying a subwoofer component without an amplifier is significantly cheaper. However, you won’t be able to use it unless you install a separate amplifier – such as if you want a separate amplifier for the rest of your stereo system.
All of the options listed above are powered amplifiers.
Subwoofer Installation Price Factors
Subwoofers vary a lot in cost.
The cheapest ones are about $20 each. However, most sound experts suggest that “good” quality subwoofers are hard to find under $200.
At the same time, most people will notice a significant difference in the quality of car audio with even a simple and cheap subwoofer.
Speaker Make and Model
The brand and type of subwoofer make a great deal of difference to the cost.
For example, JBL is one of the most popular speaker manufacturers for cars and its GT-BassPro12 line is one of the most popular subwoofers. However, costs range from $199 to over $300 depending on the size of the speaker.
At the same time, you could get a generic subwoofer of the same size starting from about $30.
Often, these costs reflect specifications, such as power output, range, the quality of the casing, and the quality of the wiring. So, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re getting.
Number of Speakers
Most vehicles can improve sound quality by installing a single subwoofer. In this case, the subwoofer is normally placed in the rear of the car or in the center console, like with the Chevy Tahoe.
In other cases, you might want to install two, smaller subwoofers. That’s especially true if you have a large vehicle cabin.
However, installing two subwoofers might mean it’s more cost-effective to install a separate amplifier powering both speakers.
Cost of Labor
Costs of installation can vary significantly. For example, Walmart, Best Buy, and other stores normally have flat-rate installation options.
On the other hand, a car audio specialist may custom-build housing for your subwoofer, so it looks good with your vehicle. In this case, you might pay anywhere from about $49 to over $600 for labor.
That’s even true if you’re replacing subwoofers with original equipment manufacturer models. For example, if you have a Chevy Tahoe, the subwoofer is in the dash, and you have to take the dash off to get to it. That can mean 3-4 hours of work.
Considering audio technicians and mechanics charge an average of $50-$85 per hour and over $200 if you’ve gone to a dealership, that price can add up.
Existing Speaker System
Most factory speaker systems don’t include subwoofers. This means you’ll have to connect a subwoofer to your system.
In addition, many factory stereos don’t have an RCA outlet, which you’ll need to connect to a subwoofer. So, installing a subwoofer might necessitate replacing the stereo system.
Of course, there are workarounds, such as using a hi-low converter or A-line converter, but both will add to costs.
You’ll also have to consider if you need an amplifier. And, if your wiring is capable of handling your new subwoofer.
3 Symptoms Of Bad Subwoofers
If your subwoofers are going out, you’ll likely notice the sound changing.
However, you can also do a physical check of the systems.
1. No Sound
If your subwoofers aren’t making any sound, it’s highly likely that the cone has blown.
However, this could also be an issue with wiring or cabling going bad, meaning you might be able to replace those instead.
Distorted, crackling, or otherwise scratchy sound normally means that your subwoofer is getting too much power. This can relate to a broken cone, a poor amplifier setup, or to other issues.
However, in most cases, it means you’ll want to replace or repair the subwoofer.
3. Wobbly Cone
The cone on your subwoofer should move slightly. However, it shouldn’t wobble back and forth. If so, the cone is damaged and has to be repaired.
At the same time, that’s also true if the cone doesn’t move at all.
Benefits Of Subwoofers In Your Car
Subwoofers are a crucial part of many sound systems so they can add a great deal to your car’s audio as well.
Two-channel sound systems cannot handle the lower ends of bass, drum, and other musical instruments.
This means you’ll simply miss many of the elements of those instruments when listening to music in your car if you don’t have a subwoofer.
Added Sound Clarity
Subwoofers respond to low frequencies quickly and reproduce sound clearly. This means that you’ll get cleaner and clearer sound than without a subwoofer.
While that won’t matter much if you’re simply listening to someone talk, it could matter a great deal when listening to bass players, singers, and drumming.
Distortion happens when acoustic demand on your speakers is too high.
Installing a subwoofer means that load is distributed to the subwoofer, which is designed to handle low-frequency sound. That reduces overload, meaning you get clearer sound with less distortion.
Reduced Load on Other Speakers
Two-channel speakers can often overload while trying to produce low-frequency sound. This means they often cannot produce high-quality audio in a frequency range better suited to those speakers.
Adding subwoofers, especially if you play audio at loud volumes, will improve the performance of your other speakers.
How Do You Replace Subwoofers? (Video)
If you want to save money, you can almost always install or replace subwoofers on your own. Here, you’ll likely install your subwoofers in the trunk or on the floor behind the seats.
This guide also assumes you’re using a powered subwoofer and don’t have to install a separate amplifier.
Things You’ll Need:
- Wiring kit (Ground wire, power wire, RCA wire, remote wire, speaker wire, in-line fuse at an amp rating needed by your speaker [usually 60amp], crimp terminals)
- Subwoofer housing kit/bolts if your subwoofer doesn’t come with one
- Wrench set
- Screwdriver set
- Wire cutters
- Drill and bit set
Installing a Subwoofer
- Inspect your car and decide where to install the subwoofer. Keep in mind that it will generate heat so the front and back should be exposed to air for ventilation. Drill holes into the car and use the mounting bolts to secure the subwoofer in place. In some cases, you may be able to get away with an adhesive instead. Therefore, it’s always important to follow the installation instructions that come with your subwoofer.
- With the key out of the ignition, disconnect the battery from the negative post and tuck the terminal up out of the way.
- Check the fuse box and decide where to install the power cable to the main line. If you have to connect directly to the battery, run wiring from the battery to the fuse box. Subwoofers are most often connected directly to the battery because they require a lot of power. This will mean installing a separate fuse and a ground wire for safety. You’ll also have to connect a ring terminal to the wire, so you can connect it to the positive terminal of the battery (red cable).
- Install the fuses in your wiring kit as directed in the kit, usually by cutting the power cable and crimping the fuse holder to each open side. It should be no more than 6 inches from the battery.
- Feed the power cable through the electric outlet in the firewall, this normally opens into the glove box.
- Lift the carpeting to look for a wire groove. Wire grooves may also be held in place under the paneling at the base or the top of the car. Use a screwdriver to lift the pins holding the paneling in place and lift it up to check.
- Run the power cable to the subwoofer.
- Run the remote wire down the same wire channel as the power cable.
- Find the wire channel on the other side of the car and run the RCA wires through that channel. This prevents interference that could impact sound quality.
- Remove the stereo by removing the screws or undoing the plastic clips. This might be very easy or very difficult depending on your vehicle’s make and model.
- Use a wire hook or a stretched clothes hanger to hook the wires from where you ran them along the side of the car and pull them to the center console. In some vehicles, you may have to remove more of the dash to achieve this, however, in most, the space is open and you can easily pull wires through.
- Connect the RCA cable to the colored connectors on the stereo. If it doesn’t have any, you’ll need an adapter. R/SW stands for “rear” audio.
- Connect the remote wire to the existing remote wire (blue) on the stereo. Here, you want to remove the existing wire, strip the cover back, twist them together, and add a crimp.
- Run the ground wire from the battery to an exposed bolt in the vehicle frame. Make sure there’s no paint around the bolt, and then attach the wire to it. Make sure the rings on both wires are firmly attached and that they can’t move. Then, plug your battery back in. Test the system and pay careful attention to heat around wires and connections.
It’s important to note that having a professional install the subwoofer costs an average of about $100.
That may be worthwhile, just to ensure that the electronics are professionally installed, ensuring good sound quality and safe wiring.
If you still have questions about installing a subwoofer in your car, these answers should help.
Does a car need a subwoofer?
Your car likely doesn’t need a subwoofer to play audio. However, subwoofers can prolong the lifespan of your existing speakers while improving audio quality in your car, especially if you play loud music.
On the other hand, if you’d prefer not to spend the money, you probably don’t need the subwoofer.
Can you install a subwoofer without replacing the stereo?
In most cases, you can install a subwoofer without replacing the stereo by using a converter.
Here, an A-line converter will likely offer better sound quality. However, you can also choose a Hi-low converter. Both will offer reduced sound quality over a new stereo with an RCA output.
However, you can always use the converter until you’re ready to choose a new stereo or just live with the reduced audio quality.
Is installing a subwoofer worth it?
That depends on how much you listen to music in your vehicle, what kind of music you listen to, and at what volume.
For example, if you frequently listen to flute music at low volume, you probably won’t even notice the subwoofer installed. Or, if you normally listen to audiobooks in the car, you’ll notice it a bit, but not enough to be “worth” several hundred dollars of expense.
On the other hand, if you appreciate music, sometimes play it loud, and listen to music with deeper instruments (cello, bass, drums, some vocalists), you will definitely notice the presence of a subwoofer.
Whether or not that’s “worth it” depends on what you appreciate.
How long do subwoofers last?
A good subwoofer can last the lifetime of a car. However, on average, you can expect it to last about 7-12 years.
In addition, if you very often play extremely loud music, haven’t properly fastened your subwoofer to a surface, get into car accidents, your subwoofer could fail sooner.
A subwoofer can greatly increase the sound quality of audio in your car. However, subwoofers normally start at about $50 and go to over $2,000 in costs, with many car subwoofers ranging between $150 and $400. In addition, installation costs start at around $49.99 but can go over $600 depending on the complexity and the customization of the installation.
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