When it comes to taking a family road trip, or even just a trip to the grocery store with everyone in tow, a family car entertainment system can be a true game-changer. Unfortunately, it can also be a super expensive option to add to your new car or get installed on your older car.
DIY projects are all the rage these days, and a DIY family car entertainment system is no different. Not only will this project be fun to do and save you so much money, but it’ll save your sanity on long drives with the kids in their Diono car seats.
Creating a fun, functional, and ultra-affordable family entertainment system in your vehicle is possible, no matter what type of vehicle you have, from a cute and cozy little 2017 Ford Fiesta to a big extended cab Ford F250.
10 Tips for Setting up a DIY Car Entertainment System for Your Family
1. Add iPad Mounts
iPads and other tablets have changed the world of in-vehicle entertainment systems. Instead of having that mini-screen embedded in the back of the front seats or hanging from a pull-down mount, kids can now hold their screens. However, if you want the option to mount your tablet for hands-free movie watching or other entertainment, you can buy simple mounts that attach quickly and temporarily to the headrests of the front seats. Place your tablet in these mounts and play a movie, and you’ll get the same effect as the built-in mounts, for so much less. You can get this one directly from Apple for your iPad or go for an aftermarket one to save money.
2. Get Charging Jacks
With all the electronics you’re about to start having in your vehicle, you’ll need an excellent way to keep them all charged up. You can find low-cost charging jacks that plug into your cigarette lighters and provide multiple USB ports for charging.
3. Add a Wireless Station
If you’re going to want to be able to stream music and movies from the internet (think Pandora and Netflix), you could benefit from adding a wireless station to your car entertainment system. These small boxes are powered by subscriptions that you pay separately for. You’ll get full wireless access wherever you go, and your car will be your mobile hotspot.
4. Get Plenty of Headphones
When you have a lot of people in the family car, chances are not everyone will want to listen to the same thing at the exact moment. That would be just too ideal. Keep a lot of headphones on hand so you can have people watching different movies and listening to different music simultaneously. Get some earplugs and keep them handy, too. You never know when someone may want to take a nap while the other passengers aren’t ready to relax.
5. Add an Aftermarket DVD Player
Use all of those DVDs you’re holding onto by installing a DVD player. You can typically get these for under $200, including a DVD player and a screen. Having the option to watch online streaming movies on an iPad and DVDs on one of these players will keep everyone happy.
6. Install a Wireless Video Game System
Like the DVD player, you can also get a video game system and set it up in your vehicle to add on-the-road entertainment.
7. Keep an iPod Powered Up
For times when the radio gets old, keep an iPod on hand in your vehicle with a bunch of favorite mixes, playlists, and artists so you can be ready with a soundtrack to your trip whenever you want. Fill it up with songs before a long road trip and let your passengers play mobile DJ for a fun ride.
8. Don’t Forget Storage
You’ll need somewhere to store your new DIY car entertainment system when it’s not in use. Check out your space situation (a Ford Fiesta will have different limitations than a Honda Odyssey), and see what you can do.
9. Don’t Forget Spares
Keep a spare charging jack and a pair or two headphones on hand. If one of these things breaks, you’re in trouble. They’re cheap enough that a spare won’t set you back too much.
10. Go for Aftermarket Stuff to Save money
The joy of a DIY car entertainment system is that you’re getting to piece it together yourself. Unless you want the best of the best, have fun shopping and saving by looking for aftermarket items at lower prices than you’d expect to pay. You can deck out your entire car with an entertainment system for a fraction of what others spend.