Motorists Will Be Hit Hard By Digital Switchover

If you own a car then you should be used to having the contents of your wallet or purse stolen at every opportunity. Road tax, fuel duty, and insurance costs seem to keep on going up and now there’s another government-led change that’s going to cost you money.

DAB Digital Radio

It’s no secret that there are plans afoot to switch off the country’s analogue television and radio signals. There have been ad campaigns to persuade us to switch to digital TV and buy nice new DAB radio sets for our homes, but in all the excitement someone seems to have forgotten the analogue radio sets in the nation’s 20million+ cars. That’s a huge number of radio listeners that seems to have been missed by digital campaigners and car manufacturers alike.

Most new cars still come with an analogue radio as standard, while some models offer a digital setup as an optional upgrade. That’s great if you’re buying a new car and can afford to spend several hundred quid on a fancy radio, not so great if you’re buying second hand and the original owner didn’t specify one.

The government have decided that the analogue FM and MW signals will be completely switched off by 2015, leaving most motorists with static instead of our favourite radio stations. So what’s to be done?

Pick Up An In-Car DAB Receiver

The first and easiest option is to get an in-car DAB receiver, a portable device that looks a bit like a speed camera detector.

Pure Highway DAB

DAB Receivers use FM to transmit to your car stereo

One example is the PURE Highway – available for under £70 at Amazon – that uses a DAB receiver stuck to your windscreen. This then re-transmits the signal on a free FM frequency that you can tune into on your car stereo. It works well and is a cheap option, but the power wires can be a nuisance and you have to remember to take it off the windscreen if you don’t want it to get nicked.

Buy A New Car Stereo

The second choice is to invest in a new car radio, but this could be very expensive. Most cars these days have unique fit radios that mean you’re restricted in choice – you’ll have to go to your car dealer for an item that will fit your car, and they’re hardly going to offer the best price.

If you look around on you should also be able to get a dashboard conversion kit that will allow a standard-size aftermarket radio to be slotted into your dash.  The problem is these often require some re-wiring and never look as good as the standard fit item.

Plug In A Personal DAB Radio

The final alternative is for the lucky few of you who have USB connections or headphone jacks built into your car. If you’re lucky enough to have a suitable socket you can simply pick up a personal DAB radio (check Amazon for some examples), plug it in and switch your radio to its auxiliary input, which is usually no more difficult than pressing a button on the radio.

PURE PocketDAB Radio

Portable DAB radio is cheaper alternative to new car stereo

Very easy to do, but of course the radio will need its batteries replacing or charging every so often. There are also very few cars out there with the right kind of sockets.

Whatever you decide to do you’ll need to think about it soon before the switch goes on

So there you go – a government decision leaves motorists out of pocket again. Don’t you just love ’em?

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Author: Chris Auty

Voted the Breakthrough Blogger of 2013 by SEAT and the Guild of Motoring Writers , Chris has lived and breathed cars since he was old enough to say 'faster'. With a penchant for hot hatches and an allergy to public transport, he would much prefer to drive a bad car than never drive at all. Fortunately his family has learned to put up with this obsession and the internet has provided a channel for his ramblings.

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1 Comment

  1. The government has stated that the earliest FM radio can be switched off is 2015 and even this target is unlikely to be met, so there’s no need whatever to think about changing your radio at the moment.

    Scientific evidence proves that DAB radio in the UK has WORSE sound quality than FM with many programmes broadcast in mono, and large parts of the country have poor coverage. In most of Europe there will never be any DAB stations as the UK’s system has been abandoned for a better one, so if you drive on the continent you’re better sticking with FM.

    I’d advise saving your money at the moment: by 2015, there’ll be a much better system, such as internet radio, and they won’t be able to give away DAB radios.

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