Listening to music in your car is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It’s why we often sit and chill behind the wheel with the speakers cranked up – even while the car is in the park. But whether you’re jamming away your traffic blues or catching the latest news, your car antenna matters.
It needs to be discreet enough to avoid blocking your view of the road, but large enough to catch your favorite station. And if you have multiple radio systems, it shouldn’t disrupt your handheld receiver or CB signals. So let’s review the best car antenna for your specific needs.
Best Car Antenna Comparison Chart 2021
Votex hort Car Antenna
6 3/4 Inch
ICBEAMER Carbon Fiber Universal Car Antenna
RONIN FACTORY Bullet Car Antenna
Rydonair Car Radio Antenna
AntennaMastsRus Car Wash Proof Short Rubber Antenna
6 3/4 Inch
Bingfu Car Stereo Radio Hidden Patch Antenna
Cable Length: 10 feet
Possbay Shark Fin Car Radio Antenna
Antenna's Base Dimension 5.83" x 2.64"
The Best Aftermarket Car Antenna Reviews 2021
1. Best Overall – Votex Original 6 3/4 Inch Car Radio Antenna
Maybe you’ve run through these tips and still can’t get a clear signal. You may want antennas designed by Votex Hort built by The Antenna Source, a mid-west, family-run antenna supplier. They use 304 stainless steel threads made in Wisconsin, so you’re sure your antenna will stay in place. It’s a simple two-step process – screw off your old antenna and screw in the new.
You’ll only need a wrench to remove the old whip. This new Votex Hort is an aftermarket piece so it’s not telescopic. Its rubberized exterior is extremely flexible. It can twist and dodge out of harm’s way in the car wash, but it can also withstand harsh weather and extreme temperatures.
The antenna can survive roadside heat, engine temperatures, and strong sunlight up to 257°F. Inside this tough but bendy exterior, copper wire is tightly coiled for maximized reception. This antenna is 6 and ¾ inches tall so it’s powerful but compact. It may be an aftermarket part, but it’s still genuine, so check the base for the original Antenna Source logo as a mark of quality.
This antenna is intended to screw into your existing car antenna mount, so it has standard-sized threads. They’re tougher than the ordinary brass threads your previous antenna had, and you may need a wrench to dislodge your old whip before replacing it. The rubber insulation makes this antenna more effective than some originals because it doesn’t clash with metallic car parts.
You might worry the antenna won’t fit your car if it’s a fussy brand like a Nissan r Volkswagen. These sometimes need specialized adaptors. But this antenna ships with multiple adapters in different lengths, so you can find the right size and replace your old antenna in minutes. Double-check your car brand though, since, despite the manufacturer’s best efforts, some still won’t fit.
When you want the power of a big brand and the one-on-one attention of a family business, opt for this antenna collaboration by Votex Hort and The Antenna Source. It’s the perfect fit for you.
- The flexible antenna can withstand weather damage and manual bumping.
- Its stainless steel connectors are USA-threaded for superior quality.
- The antenna carries a 2-year warranty.
- You’ll have to triple-check the make, brand, year, and model of your car. For example, this antenna fits the Chevvy Silverado 2500 from 2003 but it doesn’t work with the 2004 or 2007 Chevvy Silverado. The Antenna Source is a family-run business and their customer care is extremely personalized so they’ll tell you what cars are incompatible.
2. Best Antenna for Reception – ICBEAMER 3 Inch Car Radio Antenna
3 inches are rarely a good look, but if you want a stylish, low-profile car antenna, 3 inches may fit just right. This short antenna comes in red, white, blue, black, and green, so if color compatibility is an issue for you, this is a broader choice than the standard white and black. But the central shaft stays black, even in the colored models. Only the tip and base are colored.
Despite the color mix, all versions of this antenna come as one piece. They don’t need to be assembled – just find the right size and screw it into place. The shipping box contains four screws in various lengths and two universal adapters that cut across the majority of popular car brands, so fit shouldn’t be an issue. Besides, you only have six selections to cycle through.
The outer body of the antenna is made of textured carbon fiber and the internal wiring is aluminum. The screws are brass and the internal threads are black matte. Plus, because the antenna is a squat 76mm, it sits quite close to the car so it’s unlikely to be banged up or damaged by carwash equipment or any passing barriers. This protects your signal from interference.
However, it’s still a short non-telescopic antenna, so it may not catch as many radio waves as its taller rivals. Its installation process is a little more involved. Rather than slipping the antenna directly onto the car, you have to remove the old antenna and fit the right screw into the antenna, then twist the pre-screwed antenna onto the car. This internal screw won’t fall out.
For a pretty selection of colors, a pocket-friendly price, an intuitive installation process, and a choice between 3 and 5 inches opt for ICBEAMER. Just be sure you order the right height …
- The multiple sizes of screws and adapters offer versatile fitting options.
- The color selections mean every car can find the right match.
- It’s tiny and discreet at just 3 inches, though there’s an optional 5-inch model too.
- While it does come with 4 screw sizes, it doesn’t have a clear sizing guide, so you’ll just have to manually test it in your car antenna port.
3. Best Short Replacement Antenna – RONIN FACTORY 5 Inch Bullet Antenna
Do aftermarket antennas work? This Ronin bullet certainly does. It’s a 5-inch 50-caliber bullet that screws onto your car mount in minutes. The bullet shape is popular with drivers who want to seem more rugged and ‘gangsta’ but it also dispels static by tapering towards the tip. It has the same size and shape dimensions as an actual 50-cal bullet and requires some assembly.
But all the mounting hardware is included, from screws to Allen wrenches. You don’t need adapters since the antenna screws directly onto the car. It only takes five minutes to install on your Dodge or Ford truck and once you position it, you can receive AM, FM, XM, and BlueTooth signals. In case you’re unfamiliar with XM, it’s the frequency for Sirius XM Satellite radio.
The antenna is made of solid military-grade 6061 aluminum with a hard-anodized finish. Also, for aesthetics, you could choose to mix and match colored tips with bland bases. The threads on your antenna are coated with a special locking compound as an anti-theft measure, so if you lost your previous antenna to parking lot vandals, you won’t lose this one the same way.
Your bullet antenna is easy to install. Just screw it in position and leave it alone for 24 hours –it needs one undisturbed day (and night) for the anti-theft film to set. Carwash equipment can’t touch this bullet either – it’s too strong. But it also won’t scratch or scrape thanks to its anodized exterior. The antenna is compatible with most trucks built after 1990 but checks the thread size.
This antenna is stylish and effective. But check for the Ronin logo at the bottom, just in case someone jerry-rigs a shell and paints it black. (Don’t do that, you could blow up your truck!)
- It’s easy to install – just screw it in place.
- The 50-cal design gives you massive bragging rights.
- The sturdy anodized finish can resist damage by road lime or ‘carwash attacks’.
- The antenna is compatible with 1994 to 2018 Dodge RAMs, many Jeeps, and any Ford beyond 1990. But since it has no alternate screws or adaptors, you may have to do a manual test to see if it’ll fit your truck’s car antenna port.
4. Best Car Antenna for Ford F-150 – Rydonair 13 Inch Car Antenna
It can be tough to shop with preconceived ideas. So, for example, someone who used telescopic whips and squat rubber antennas may be unsure what to make of this one. But Rydonair combines the best of both worlds to deliver superior AM and FM reception. At 13 inches, it’s a suitable (and ironic) replacement for the standard 31-inch which comes with older cars.
This antenna is customized for Ford F-150 trucks released between 2009 and 2020. It wobbles more than 6-inches and 3-inches, but way less than whips. To be on the safe side, unscrew this antenna before ‘putting your car in the wash’. It’s flexible, yes, but it’s not guaranteed so it’s not worth risking. Besides, if you read the manual, you’ll see the manufacturer advises against it …
You can probably drive through an automated touch-free carwash – it doesn’t have brushes to bump or break the antenna. The antenna itself springs back when bent or yanked, so it’s safe from fast wind and basic barriers on the road. It can survive being slapped by a few branches and shrubs, but its height is better for unobstructed urban driving or out in the open country.
Aesthetically, Rydonair is tops. It has brass studs, an aluminum base, a rubberized shaft, and a carbon cover at the bottom. It makes a good replacement for Ford’s metal whip because the most common complaint is the metal bending or breaking against the garage door. Rydonair is short enough to dodge garage door attacks and bendy enough to duck and survive as needed.
Shape memory makes Rydonair the best car antenna for your Ford truck. It’s tall enough to grab signals effectively but doesn’t whip around courting damage in the same way as your old one did.
- It’s 13 inches tall, the highest car antenna we’ve seen so far.
- The flexible rubber shaft is weatherproof.
- The antenna offers superior performance on lower bands (AM/FM).
- It can feel overwhelming if you’re used to short antennas and seems oddly disconcerting for whip users. So either way, it takes some getting used to.
5. Best Car Antenna for Toyota Tundra – AntennaMastsRus 6 3/4 Inch Car Antenna
There’s a popular bumper sticker that claims, ‘The Car in Front is Always a Toyota.’ And it’s probably true – Toyota holds the world’s largest auto market share. But some models are more common than others. So common that providers of spare parts design accessories specifically for those models. It could mean those parts break regularly and were low quality, to begin with …
That could be a valid reason why manufacturers specifically target those faulty parts. They may have studied trucking trends and noticed the demand for that model is high. Which could either mean it’s badly made or that buyer volumes create demand regardless of quality assessments …
Whatever the reason, Toyota antenna replacement is quite regular. And since we’ve looked at customized replacement antennas for the Ford F-150, let’s take a tumble in the Tundra. This replacement piece falls in the 6 and ¾ inch class of antennas. And if it looks familiar, that’s because it is. Remember how we mentioned many OEMs buy from aftermarket suppliers?
Well, it turns out AntennaMastsRus is a massive aftermarket stocker. And they buy their 6 and ¾ antennas from the same source as Votex – their antennas are supplied by The Antenna Source. So these antennas have the same admirable qualities we explored earlier. Plus, we now see it’s a broad-range antenna because it custom-fits the Tundra and other trucks as well.
So when you’re in the market for a premium, flexible, carwash-safe squat antenna, run to this one. Remember, if you see Votex, AntennaMastsRus, or even TAS, it’s all the same brand. But this version comes in seven colors. And if you prefer a traditional look, you can buy the stainless steel version that’s slim-fit, 6 and ¾ inches and modeled after a whip. It’s not as bendy though.
Remember though, each color comes with variants in features. The stainless steel version – for example – or the metallic-colored ones in purple, gold, red, and blue – aren’t rubberized, so they aren’t as secure in a harsh carwash. The antennas come with a 2-year warranty and a full refund.
- Its squat height, stainless steel threading, and flexible rubber make it carwash safe.
- The antenna fits the Tundra but lots of other cars too.
- The textured antenna exterior is weatherproof.
- Switching colors may cost functionality so be careful what tone you pick…
6. Best Hidden Car Antenna – Bingfu 10 feet Car Stereo Radio Hidden Patch Antenna
Some drivers put tennis balls on their car antennas to stop it whipping around, reduce static, or make their car easier to find at the mall. But if you prefer a car antenna that isn’t visible at all, try the Bingfu. But what exactly makes it a ‘hidden antenna’? Well, there’s no visible projection on the outside of the car. The antenna installs on the dash and is tucked behind the glove box.
Hidden antennas are not for everyone though. The pack will say its plug-and-play … and it is … but you have to unscrew your entire dashboard panel to find the right plug, and that can be intimidating, so it’s better to have your mechanic do it, even if they’ll overcharge you. The antenna portion is tiny – a slim 0.9-inch by 4.6-inch that sits behind the radio box itself.
The pad has a self-adhesive strip on its back so you can easily press it against the car body. Place it as close to the windshield as possible, but on the unseen underside of the hood. You have to do this while sitting inside the car, so it can get tricky – hence asking for professional help. Some drivers would rather stick the pad directly on the windshield … but then it’s not as hidden.
Either way, Bingfu is a good selection if you’ve lost too many antennas at the carwash. This car radio patch comes with a 10-foot co-ax that plugs right into your radio using a prewired Motorola DIN jack. It works on boats and RVs as well, but watch antenna installing videos and be patient during the installation process. If you can’t work it into place without breaking it, just call a pro.
For DIY lovers that like a clean look in their cars, this hidden antenna could be just the thing. Do a lot of installation prep though – you don’t want to damage any delicate components.
If you are interested in the hidden car antenna, you can read our article: Best Hidden Car Radio Antenna.
- It comes with self-adhesive tape for quick installation.
- The discretion level keeps it safer from vandalizing.
- The antenna is a universal unit that cuts across multiple brands.
- The antenna works great for AM and FM but it’s not suitable for NOAA Weather Radios.
7. Best Shark Fin Antenna for Car – Possbay Car Radio Antenna
If ♫ baby shark ♫ is playing in your head right now, we’re sorry. But this cute, sleek antenna will certainly have your radio signals swimming through the airwaves as you surf your favorite stations. It gives your car a stylish aerodynamic sports car feel, and because it’s designed for roof mounting, you get the best possible reception. (Car roofs are the best position for antennas.)
To install this Possbay shark fin, you don’t need tools or drilling. Just remove the existing rooftop antenna (that part may need tools) and snap the new one into place. You might have to reinforce the included fasteners. The shipping box comes with self-adhesive tape, screws, and washers, but you’ll have to use additional glue to hold the shark fin in place on the roof.
This particular fin brand is restricted by car design. You can’t attach it to a curved or contoured car – the roof has to be flat. And your existing fin antenna has to be smaller than 5.83 inches by 2.64 inches (or 148mm by 67mm). The dimensions of Possbay’s fin are 61mm by 175mm angled to lean back, just like an organic shark fin sweeping through the waves.
And unlike your original car antenna, this shark fin antenna has no projections or flying whips. The receiver coils are tucked inside the paint-treated case and coated in rubber. This is sometimes an issue because moisture can slip between the car body and the fin base. You can use that reinforcing glue as a makeshift waterproof sealant. The fin weighs just under 4 ounces.
Shark fin antennas are good-looking, hardworking, and easy to install. But they’re a little body-conscious so be careful to get the sizing right or they may feel too fat (or too thin) to fit in.
- The fin comes in seven colors, looking sleek and stylish on your car roof.
- Its low profile will protect it from potential obstructions.
- Its rubber-coated coils resist oxidation and weather damage.
- Finding a shark fin that fits can be tricky. This model needed screws and tape because neither fastener was strong enough to hold the antenna solo. And it only fits flat roofs.
How To Choose A Car Antenna: Buyer’s Guide
If your car antenna is broken, then it is pretty clear you need a new one. And if your AM signal starts to waver – even if your FM is still steady – you probably have an issue with your car radio. Check the tuner first. Then peek and see if your co-ax connection is secure. As a last resort, consider replacing the antenna. Here are some features to look out for while you shop:
OEM Antenna vs Aftermarket Antenna
OEM means Original Equipment Manufacturer. That’s the factory or brand that made your car. With some car models, you have to order your car antenna straight from them because they integrated the antenna design into the car body. The antenna is permanently attached to your car roof, so they have to tailor and install the replacement for you. But it’s not about quality.
How so? Well, many car manufacturers buy parts from various companies then assemble the car and slap their logo on it. Meaning some factories specialize in making car antennas then reselling them to car brands. So even your OEM may be sourced from ‘aftermarket suppliers’. This means aftermarket antennas are not necessarily low quality. They’re cheaper though.
Internal vs External
If you plan to install your new antenna yourself, buy a unit that’s certified DIY. Otherwise, paying for installation can be expensive. So unless you’re looking for quick fixes at home, you’re likely to choose between an internal, external, or satellite-style antenna. As we’ve mentioned, the antenna isn’t just the bit that pokes out of the car. With internal antennas, there’s nothing to see.
These discreet antennas stay concealed in the trunk or dashboard. You can install them yourself, but they’re not as strong. External antennas are far more receptive, pun intended. But they also need to be hardy and weatherproof. Satellite antennas can often receive signals from other devices like ham radios and CBs but internal and external car antennas stick to AM and FM.
6 3/4 Inch
6 3/4 Inch
Cable Length: 10 feet
Antenna's Base Dimension 5.83" x 2.64"
Mast vs Motorized
Old-school antennas are mostly telescopic metal or flexible fiberglass whips while newer cars may have a squat, rubberized car antenna. When you look at a car antenna, you’re only seeing the extended mast. But there’s a lot of wiring underneath that’s still part of your car antenna.
So you want to be sure whether you’re just replacing the mast or the whole antenna system. Motorized antennas (sometimes called power antennas or amplified antennas) retract and extend automatically while you fiddle with the radio. When the car is parked, the radio goes off.
So unless you’re playing music in the car, the mast ‘hides’ from car thieves and vandals. Regular masts – on the other hand – often have universal fittings and are far cheaper than their automated cousins. But you may need adapters for certain brands like Nissan or Volkswagen.
Road Trip Ready!
To get the best signal from your car radio, here’s what we recommend:
Best Car Antenna Overall: Votex hort Car Antenna
- It has a generous 2-year guarantee and is car-wash safe.
- Its internal copper coils are excellent receptors.
- The antenna use superior German engineering and American threading.
Best Budget Car Antenna: ICBEAMER Carbon Fiber Universal Car Radio Antenna
- It’s made of carbon fiber and comes with mounting hardware.
- You can pick from five colors to match your car.
- The antenna has a lifetime warranty.
What antenna is mounted on your car? Show us a photo in the comments – and hide the plates!