How Do I Get SiriusXM Radio in My Car?

SiriusXM is the leading satellite radio provider in the United States. With a wide range of new vehicles featuring car radios that support SiriusXM, this service is rapidly growing in popularity.

But you don’t have to have a new car to enjoy SiriusXM. Read on to learn more about the satellite radio provider and how you can get Sirius radio in your car.

What is Satellite Radio?

Satellite radio, such as SiriusXM, is a type of radio that uses satellites to transmit signals to receivers located in cars and home stereos. The signals are broadcast from the main location in Washington D.C. using four satellites, nicknamed Rock, Roll, Rhythm, and Blues, to cater to the diverse music programming available.

One of the main advantages of satellite radio is its wide coverage range. Unlike traditional radio waves that typically travel over a distance of 30 to 40 miles, satellite transmissions can reach anywhere. Additionally, satellite radio delivers higher quality audio that’s not affected by the environment.

Another benefit of satellite radio is that it’s free of static and obstacles like hills or tall buildings cannot block the radio waves. With over 34 million subscribers, SiriusXM is a popular company, partly due to the fact that many new cars come with a radio that can receive satellite signals.

Drivers also appreciate the broad range of radio stations in the US, offered by SiriusXM. Traditional radio stations can be limited in their programming, especially for those in rural areas. SiriusXM offers over 150 channels catering to a wide range of musical tastes and moods, as well as channels dedicated to news, stand-up comedy, and live sports, all without commercials.

SiriusXM Radio
SiriusXM on Phone

How to Get SiriusXM in Your Car

Getting SiriusXM in your car is easy. In most cases, you’ll qualify for a SiriusXM free trial so you can test the service out and decide if the subscription is worth it.

Here’s the step-by-step process to get SiriusXM radio in your car:

Step 1: Check Your Car’s Compatibility

Automobile manufacturers started offering car radios compatible with SiriusXM in 2004. Nearly all new cars produced today come with a radio that supports satellite channels. (1)

To check if your car radio is compatible with SiriusXM, you can use their convenient online tool to enter the make and model of your vehicle. Additionally, you can often tell if your car radio is compatible by looking for the SiriusXM logo. This logo may be located underneath the radio or there may be a SiriusXM button that you need to press to switch to satellite radio.

Some car radios may not have the SiriusXM logo, but may have a SAT button. Pressing this button will activate the satellite mode and allow you to receive SiriusXM channels. If you are unsure, refer to the owner’s manual for your vehicle. It will have a section dedicated to the infotainment system that includes information about satellite radio.

If your car radio doesn’t receive satellite signals, there are other ways to listen to SiriusXM in your car that will be discussed later.

Step 2: Create an Account with SiriusXM

To receive SiriusXM in your car, your next step should be to create an account with the service.

  1. Go to the SiriusXM website and click the “Create an Account” button on the homepage.
  2. Follow the prompts to start a free trial and enter your car information, such as the radio ID, VIN, or license plate.
  3. You can also choose to create an account without connecting it to a car, which allows you to stream SiriusXM online or connect it to a vehicle later.
  4. Enter your billing information and review your order before completing the purchase. SiriusXM will send you a confirmation email.

Note: New car owners may qualify for special offers or extended free trials. Check for any promotions in the mail or at the dealership, and use the provided URL to create your account.

Step 3: Find Your Radio ID or Car VIN

When activating your SiriusXM subscription, you’ll need to provide your Radio ID or car VIN. This information is used to authenticate your vehicle and confirm that an active subscription is associated with it.

Find Your Radio ID:

The easiest way to find your Radio ID is to use the channel dial and set it to 0. Your radio display should then show your Radio ID, which you can write down and add to your SiriusXM account online.

If this method doesn’t work, you can try the following alternatives:

  1. Press the Menu button on your car radio and navigate to the Sirius or SiriusXM option. Look for a Settings or Advanced settings option, where you should be able to find your Radio ID.
  2. Press the Sirius or SAT button on your radio and find the Options menu. If there’s a Manage subscription option, select it to locate your Radio ID.
  3. Check the Settings menu on your car radio for a SAT section. Navigate to SAT info and your Radio ID should be displayed.
  4. Some vehicles have an Audio menu, where you can select SatRadio and look for a Service option to find your Radio ID.
  5. In some older cars, pressing the Sirius, SAT, or ESN button for three seconds will display your Radio ID.

Finding Your Car VIN:

If you’re unable to locate your Radio ID, your VIN can be used instead. Your VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, is a unique 17-digit code that is specific to your vehicle.

  • The VIN can be used to obtain a car history report when purchasing a used vehicle. It’s also required for vehicle registration and purchasing insurance.
  • The VIN can be found by standing outside of the vehicle and looking at the dashboard on the driver’s side. There should be a sticker where the dashboard meets the windshield displaying the VIN.
  • The VIN can also be found by opening the driver’s side door. There should be a sticker on the door jamb displaying the VIN.
  • The VIN should also be on the title of your car.
  • Check your insurance card or insurance policy as the VIN should also be on these documents.

How to Refresh Vehicle Your Radio

If you’re having trouble receiving a satellite signal from SiriusXM after activating your free trial or purchasing a subscription, you may need to refresh your radio. Refreshing your radio can also clear any issues with reception.

To refresh your radio, visit the SiriusXM website and navigate to the “Refresh Radio” page. There are two ways to refresh your radio:

  1. Enter your Radio ID, the VIN for your car, or the phone number you used when creating your account and click “Send Refresh Signal.” Ensure your radio is set to SAT or SiriusXM.
  2. If you don’t have access to your car, you can text “Refresh” to 77917. You’ll receive a text message with a link. Once you’re in your vehicle, set your radio to SAT or SiriusXM and open the link to start the process.

Refreshing your radio should be the last step in the registration process. If you’re still not receiving a signal after sending the refresh signal, try sending it again. If you’re still unable to receive a signal, contact the SiriusXM help and support team for assistance.

Choosing a SiriusXM Plan

SiriusXM offers free trials to new vehicle owners and promotional offers with special pricing for the first three months, typically for the Platinum subscription tier. At the end of the free trial, SiriusXM will automatically bill for a Platinum subscription. However, before the free trial or promotional offer ends, you can log into your SiriusXM account and select a different plan. You can change your plan at any time.

SiriusXM offers six different plans, three of which provide access to satellite radio in your vehicle and online streaming. The other plans are more affordable, but they are limited to streaming only.

  • The Platinum subscription is the most popular plan, offering access to more than 425 channels and comprehensive coverage.
  • The Music & Entertainment plan is more affordable, but it includes fewer channels (around 400), and does not include access to NFL, MLB, or NBA games or personalized Pandora stations.
  • The Music Showcase plan is the most affordable subscription, with over 100 channels. However, this plan has less diversity as it doesn’t include news, comedy, or sports channels.

How to Activate a SiriusXM Subscription with a Used Vehicle

Activating a SiriusXM subscription in a used vehicle can be done by following the steps outlined above. As a first-time subscriber, you may be eligible for a free trial. However, it’s important to note that you may not qualify for the promotional offers that new car owners receive.

It’s important to discuss the previous owner’s active subscription during the sale of the vehicle, as they will need to cancel or transfer it to their new vehicle. If the previous owner cancels their subscription, it should end within a month, depending on their last billing date. After that, you can create an account with SiriusXM and start your own subscription.

Alternatively, the previous owner may choose to transfer their subscription to a different vehicle. They will need to contact SiriusXM customer service and pay a $15 transfer fee. Once completed, service should stop in your used vehicle, allowing you to sign up for a new account.

If you’re unable to contact the previous owner of the vehicle, reach out to SiriusXM customer service and explain your situation. You will need to provide proof that you are the new owner of the vehicle.

How to Get Sirius Radio if Your Car Radio Can’t Get a Satellite Signal

Not all car radios have the capability to receive satellite signals. While it’s a common feature in newer vehicles, satellite radio was only available on luxury models in the early 2000s. Sirius launched in 2002 and was originally available on select GM, Honda, and Toyota models. If your car is from before 2002, it may not be able to receive a satellite signal. (2)

However, there are still ways to get SiriusXM in your car.

Method #1: FM Modulators

FM modulators are devices that send a radio signal to your car radio. You can find wireless models that you can plug into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter, or you can opt for a wired model that a professional will install directly into your car stereo.

Wired models are more expensive, but they offer better sound quality because of the direct connection to the radio. Wireless FM modulators may pick up noise during transmission.

An FM modulator alone won’t allow you to listen to satellite radio, but it may be a necessary component when using SiriusXM through your phone or a satellite receiver.

Method #2: SiriusXM Satellite Radios

SiriusXM offers satellite radios that can be used to upgrade a car radio or listen to satellite radio channels at home or on the go. There are currently three models available:

  • The Onyx EZR is the most affordable option.
  • The Onyx Plus comes with a larger interface and improved navigation, but it costs a little more.
  • The SiriusXM Tour is the most expensive option, but it comes with a different digital interface and supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for streaming.

All three models come with a vehicle kit for mounting. The radios act as a satellite receiver, but audio is played through the car’s radio or stereo system via the AUX input. If your vehicle doesn’t have an AUX input, the FM PowerConnect feature can be used to transmit a signal to one of your car’s FM channels.

For higher audio quality, the SiriusXM radio can also be hardwired directly to the FM antenna with a separate accessory, the SiriusXM wired FM direct adapter kit. However, it’s best to get help from a professional installer since the dashboard will need to be opened to access the FM antenna.

Method #3: Upgrade Your Car Radio

If you have an older vehicle, consider upgrading your car radio to a model with a built-in satellite receptor. Shop around for a suitable model and consider installing it yourself with the necessary tools. To do this, remove the fasteners securing the trim around your current radio and pull it out. Then, install the new one.

Method #4: Listening to SiriusXM with Your Phone

You can listen to SiriusXM on your phone using the SiriusXM app. This option allows you to listen to your favorite satellite channels on the go with a cheaper subscription, as you only need a streaming plan.

To listen to satellite radio in your car using your phone, connect it to your car stereo via an AUX cord. If your vehicle doesn’t have an AUX input, you can install an FM modulator to listen to audio from your phone.

The downside of using your phone to listen to SiriusXM is that you may use up your monthly data plan quickly if you don’t have unlimited data. Additionally, reception and audio quality may vary depending on your location.

Frequently Asked Questions About SiriusXM Radio

Here are a few additional things to know about SiriusXM.

Can you get Sirius radio in more than one vehicle?

Yes, once you have a paid subscription, you can add additional radios to your account by contacting the SiriusXM customer service team. You may also be eligible for a discount depending on how many radios you add.

Can you listen to SiriusXM online?

Yes, with a SiriusXM subscription, you can access online streaming through the SiriusXM website or mobile app, as well as on smart TVs and smart speakers.

Can you transfer your subscription to a new vehicle?

Yes, you can transfer your subscription to a new vehicle by contacting the SiriusXM customer service team and paying a $15 transfer fee. However, it may be more cost-effective to cancel your old subscription and start a new one with a free trial for your new vehicle.

Wrapping Up…

To get SiriusXM in your car, create an account and purchase a subscription or redeem a special offer. Next, enter your Radio ID or car’s VIN to activate your account. Once these steps are complete, you should start receiving a satellite signal in your vehicle. However, if needed, refresh your radio to ensure proper function.

Robert Muñoz

I’m Robert, a US-based auto electrician, auto mechanic, trained engineer and fanatic about all things motor vehicle. After studying engineering in college I returned to my original passion - car mechanics - and I ran a garage for a number of years serving my local community. Through my garage, I got involved in numerous road safety campaigns in my local area until eventually, I decided to share what I've learned with the world. Know more about me... You can follow me on LinkedIn.

3 thoughts on “How Do I Get SiriusXM Radio in My Car?”

    • Hey Jim, sorry to know that.

      Did you try 17 characters VIN instead? I’m hopeful that would help you check if your vehicle is compatible with SiriusXM.

      If you’re not sure, the VIN number is usually located on the lower-corner of dash, right in front of steering wheel that can be read through the windshield on the driver’s side.


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