Help me buy an inexpensive stereo for my new used '95 Ford Ranger
November 15, 2014 3:06 PM   Subscribe

I asked question on here last week, and I ended up buying a 1995 ford Ranger, but it's missing a stereo ( I guess it was stolen? ) I don't need anything fancy, just something I can put my cassette adapter into (or blue tooth? ) to play my NPR Podcasts while driving. I can get used, ebay, junk yard or whatever, but I'm overwhelmed by my options. Should I get a factory stock 95 ford ranger stereo used? How will other ones fit? (they won't fit right?) Can I install this myself? All the cables still seem to be in tact (I can supply a picture if needed. I just want to do this as inexpensively and hassle free as possible. THanks.
posted by crawltopslow to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tell Crutchfield what you have, and they will tell you what will fit. And sell you whatever adapters, etc that you'll need, and include instructions.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:19 PM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you were in GA or FL, I'd tell you to go to Brandsmart and get a cheap-o one. They'll install it while you wait (it's a while, so go see a movie or something.) The actual unit shouldn't cost more than about $99. The installation will be a bit more, but it's WORTH it. There is nothing more frustrating than stereo installation. A pro will make it look easy and your dash will be perfect after it's in.

Get one with XM, you won't be sad.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:21 PM on November 15, 2014

Amazon will let you select the make, model and year of your vehicle, and then display stereo receivers for it.

I have never had good luck with generic or "budget brand" stereos - they always have a ton of features, are a lot cheaper than "name brand" models, can sound good but often don't, and generally die within a year. Units from recognizable manufacturers are a little more expensive, a little under-featured, and will generally last longer than the car.

Stick with a reputable consumer market brand-name, which in this case is Sony, Kenwood, Pioneer and Clarion, and do your research - Amazon reviews are a good starting point. The Wirecutter recommends a Sony model, but it's been replaced by a newer version with NFC. This Clarion model checks all of your boxes and is only $89.00.

Sadly, they're almost all buttony-fiddly user-hostile, no matter who makes it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:35 PM on November 15, 2014

As for playing podcasts, there are many car stereos, including cheap ones, that come with an audio jack, USB port, or both. No adapter needed.
posted by Gneisskate at 3:55 PM on November 15, 2014

If basic podcast listening is really all you want, I'd be inclined to go to eBay or a junkyard and get the stock stereo. You know it's going to fit, you know the wiring will match up, and it should hopefully be dirt cheap. You could get better sound with something else, and I agree with Ruthless Bunny that Sirius/XM is really nice to have, but if you're confident podcasts are all you care about, I think stock is the way to go.
posted by primethyme at 3:55 PM on November 15, 2014

Both Slacker and Spotify allow you to download content for offline listening... I switched from satellite radio to custom Slacker channels, which are updated nightly on Wi-Fi, and use that on my (looong) commute. The phone doesn't even need to leave my pocket unless it's low on juice, I can pause and skip right from the stereo... Bluetooth is a must-have in any aftermarket unit.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:06 PM on November 15, 2014

The 1995 stock stereo is only going to have radio and CD or tape. Get an aftermarket unit and pay someone to install it. It shouldn't be hard to replace (Ford stereos from that era come out easily with a couple bent wire clothes hangers) and any aftermarket stereo can be wired up to plug right in to the Ford stereo wiring harness. Any stereo installer (or adventurous amateur) can do this kind of job in their sleep. You will have to get an adapter though because the stock stereo is a bit taller than the standard DIN size aftermarket stereos come in.
posted by zsazsa at 6:27 PM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I drive a 1995 Ranger and replaced its original stereo w/cassette player with a pretty low-end cd player about 10 years ago. Probably cost me $100 tops to buy it and have it installed by a big box automobile electronics retailer. Whatever it is, they can make it fit; they just add spacers (think: hard plastic CD-sized compartment) on one or both sides to make up for any empty space. Don't go out looking for the stock stereo unless you enjoy, and know how to do, this sort of thing. Because otherwise it will be a total pain in the ass.
posted by bennett being thrown at 8:09 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Crutchfield. Good prices, great instructions, super helpful, and they give you exactly what you need. I'm not a really mechanically inclined person, and I had no difficulty installing car stereos from them. For $100ish or less you can get a decent modern stereo with Bluetooth, which is really handy. (Heck, the last stereo I bought also included a mic for handsfree calling, and that went in a older vehicle.) Check them out.

If for some reason you decide that doing it yourself isn't something you want to mess with, you can always go to a car audio place, or even Best Buy, and have them install something you buy there. Either way, you have a lot more options than the stock radio, almost all of them better.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:42 PM on November 16, 2014

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