How To Put a CB Radio in a Car

by Mark Applegate Google

    While cell phones are the predominant method of communication while travelling in a vehicle, CB radios still have a following. Many appreciate the range, the lack of dialing while driving and the entertainment value of listening to others with these devices. Mounting a CB and its antenna in a car can be challenging. There are several important considerations you must evaluate as you complete this task to make your CB radio experience fun and safe.

    Site Survey

    Be careful as you decide where to mount your CB. While some larger trucks and semis allow for an in-dash mount, most cars require you to mount the radio on the dash or center console. Be sure that you can operate the unit with minimal effort and without causing shifting problems. Verify your CB will not harm an airbag as it deploys. Keep in mind that it has a handset with a cord that may be in the way of gearshifts and door handles. Check that it can be mounted firmly in the location you choose.

    Power Cable

    Most standard CB units use a 12-volt, negative-ground arrangement in the installation. A negative ground means that the negative post on your battery is connected to the engine block and is common as opposed to a positive ground, which is rare. If you are uncertain as to your battery's voltage, read your vehicle's owners manual or test it with a multimeter. Disconnect the battery. Find a hole where wires run through your mounting location to the engine compartment or drill your own. Common locations are where your radio wires pass through or in the side by one door. Run the positive wire from the mounting location to connect the red lead -- typically with a fuse -- to the positive terminal. Repeat with the negative wire to the negative post. Some power inverters have posts that allow for CB installation without running these cables.

    Install the Antenna

    An ideal CB antenna length in general is 102 inches. This length is far too long for most cars and should not be used. Most cars utilize a strong magnetic antenna that is much smaller than this and that uses its wiring as an additional receptor. The most common types of these antennas for a car are top-loaded or base-loaded as opposed to center-loaded antennas designed for large trucks and semis. Consult your local electronics store for which antenna is better for your application. These antennas are best mounted on the roof or trunk with the wire running to the radio-mounting location.

    Mount the CB

    Install your mount at your site location being sure it is firmly attached. Install the microphone mount an appropriate distance from the radio and within an arm's distance from the user. Connect the power and antenna wires to your radio and feed extra wire back inside the firewall. Mount the radio and microphone to their respective mounts. Connect your battery and do a power check. Take your car to an electronics or car stereo retailer to have the CB tuned with an SWR meter.

    About the Author

    Based in Bolivar, Mo., Mark Applegate has been a professional writer since 2003. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Colorado Technical University and currently serves as the information technology director at a local public school.

    Photo Credits

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