Navigation: Not Dead Yet

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The OEM Doctor shares his advice for car audio retailers on navigation:


It would seem that of late navigation is the forgotten feature.   With CarPlay starting to appear in new car models, it’s easy to overlook navigation, but rest assured there is still a lot of demand for this feature.

The factory-like, add-on navigation black box interfaces are still a great solution for car dealerships selling any new vehicle lacking GPS.  For expeditors, it’s a very empowering product. And it also gives retailers a cost effective option to add navigation while retaining all original factory features.

Don’t Be Fooled By Imitators

A few companies today have been able to package and refine the aftermarket navigation black boxes that work “like factory” and do not affect new car warranty.

There are also some companies offering authentic original factory navigation solutions for Ford, Dodge and GM and others.  But don’t be fooled by imitators.  Many companies offering these modules are using overseas parts that don’t offer full functions in the US or they are using repurposed scrap/salvage parts or even stolen parts.

This can come back to harm you big time and we’ll explain why.

General Motors, for example, in their newer 2014 and up vehicles require a navigation HMI module with certain specifications.  Some companies have figured out shortcuts such as using modules from the Middle East that won’t support certain OnStar functions or won’t allow text to speech functions and generally can operate different than that of what the customer may be expecting. Some consumers will miss these features.   In addition, they will strip parts from would be DEAD units and modules and  “JERRY RIG” something that may work for a little while but is not a factory sealed part.  There’s a big shell game going on out there to cut costs at the buyer’s expense!

But once installed if at some point there’s a failure in the consumer’s radio or navigation function, or gauge cluster and it’s brought to a car dealer for repair, eventually the technician will get to the HMI.  He will scan the car parts and see that it’s not authorized and will bill the consumer rather than cover it under warranty. And the consumer will march that bill for $2,000 into your shop.

It’s imperative to know your suppliers and know the parts they are using to protect yourself in the long run. Here’s what you do….ask. Ask are they using US GM HMIs?  Are they new or refurbished?     If the supplier is reluctant to answer, then it came from a questionable source.

If you sell a system that infringes on licensing of Ford or GM you can be liable for EXTENSIVE licensing infraction fees.

We in the automotive aftermarket have made our living on adding what is missing from vehicles or supplying upgrades.  The final result must protect the customer and deliver what they were looking for, while earning some good profits for ourselves.  But not everyone is looking out for us.

I hope this has helped to bring attention to a very high profit category that still has a whole bunch of fight left in it.  And that it encourages you to ask your suppliers the right questions.

–OEM Doctor


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  1. Any references, quotes, names, or data to back this up? While it all may be true, it reads like a CNN article with an agenda push. Perhaps you’re a competitor in Nav that is tied at the hip to GM/Ford and their licensing. Not saying the accusations are not without merit, but it really is a salty article.

  2. Very interesting read. I think this will help me explain why I am so hesitant in installing “OEM” looking radios that I know are a ticking time bomb ready to explode at the cost of my reputation. I will offer zero warranty on items like this and may even have my clients sign a waiver that exempts my company from any damage these radios can cause.

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