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Should You Upgrade Your Car’s Head Unit?

A new head unit is one of those few upgrades that almost everyone with an old car thinks about. The lack of Bluetooth support and navigation makes a huge difference to day to day driving but, is it worth dealing with or upgrading?

Well, this one is an easy answer for us as we have dealt with both options recently. After experiencing apple car play or android auto just once, we think it would be impossible to go back. That is coming from a completely unbiased perspective as our mechanics don’t fit aftermarket head units.

So, what are the big benefits of an aftermarket head unit?

1. Safety – While it might sound a bit like BS, safety is a big factor to consider when looking at whether an upgrade is worthwhile for you. A new head unit is often a lot easier to use and allows you to change the music or call someone without ever picking up your phone.

On top of this, most modern head units actually have Google assistant and Siri included, which means you won’t have to take your hands off the wheel. This means you are safer and less distracted while driving.

2. Navigation – This is something that we mentioned in the introduction and is one of the few reasons we could never live with a standard radio again. Having maps readily available and alerting you of any hazards coming up makes driving around town a lot less stressful and means that you are more aware of what’s happening in traffic around you.

To be honest, the lowered stress levels alone are a good cause to upgrade.

3. Spotify/YTMusic/Etc. – There’s nothing more to say here, easier to use, better sound quality and no more am/fm transmitters with random cords everywhere and fuzzy reception.

So, if it’s fairly obvious that an upgraded head unit is a good investment for your car, are there any good options out there?

Our Kashy mechanics reached out to one of our good friends and head honcho at Auto One Browns Plains, Mat. These guys are awesome for the everyday shopper and have tonnes of knowledge about anything aftermarket for your car, especially audio. Their recommendations for something cheap, best value and best quality were:

1. Kenwood KMM-BT306

An entry level single din head unit (a small display). With good Bluetooth compatibility and steering wheel controls integration (which will be great for not touching your phone) this unit makes a great budget choice.

While it doesn’t have CarPlay or Android Auto, it’s a great way to get better sound quality, music on the go and map updates through the radio. Paired with a cheap phone mount for navigation, this is a great option.

2. Kenwood DMX8020S

The guys over at Auto One consider this unit to be their best bang for buck option. Kenwood is a well-known car stereo manufacturer and this head unit offer’s almost everything you could want including CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth and even the ability to connect reversing cameras (a great feature for older cars).

With a nice big screen and a sleek design this would be a great upgrade for almost any car.

3. Kenwood DMX9720XDS

This is the big one, 10.1 inch screen, DAB digital radio, 4 camera inputs, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with wireless option (you won’t even have to plug your phone in) and much more.

We probably wouldn’t recommend this as an everyday option but it’s truly the cream of crop as far as features and usability. If you really have champagne tastes and want to bring an old car into the modern era with safety and usability, there’s isn’t much further up from here.

Overall, a new head unit is absolutely one of the best upgrades for any older car and is something you’ll never regret. Bonus points if you also upgrade your speakers at the same time to provide the best new head unit experience.


If you have any questions about this blog post, would like a second opinion from a mechanic or would like to find an honest mechanic in Brisbane, check out Kashy here.

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