Tap to Read ➤

Power Car Antenna

Shrinivas Kanade
For a youngster who is used to small and compact products built with advanced technology, it is difficult to digest the fact that the first car radio antenna was 45 inches in length. To know more about power car antennas, read on.
Radio antennas were introduced in the 1930s along with the first commercially-fitted car radios. Today, high-tech satellite dishes are used to receive radio signals. Luxury car manufacturers thought they are ugly, which marred the beauty of their car designs. Then, technology found a solution to this problem, in the form of power car antennas.

Types of Car Antenna


They are fitted inside the car, on the dashboard, windshield, or the trunk. The effectiveness of its reception is not on par with the others. Several of these are needed to improve the quality of reception of radio signals.


They are in the form of telescopic metal or fiber-glass poles, attached to the exterior of the car, especially on the hood, rear, or the roof.
The quality of radio signals received by them is better than those that are fitted internally. Their main disadvantage is that they are prone to accidental damage.


They are designed to overcome the weakness of previously mentioned one. They are placed in a compartment or housing attached to the exterior of the car. When the car ignition is switched off, they don't hang in the air, and hence, are not prone to damage. The mast is ejected or lowered by an electric motor connected to it.
When the car ignition is activated to 'ON' by inserting and turning the key in it, the electrical motor is activated, and it propels the mast up and out of its housing. The antenna when ejected, can receive radio transmissions.
When the ignition switch is set to 'OFF', the electronic control signals the electrical motor to lower or collapse the mast. Thus, it is safely tucked inside the protective compartment when it is not in use.

Satellite Dish

Small, round satellite dishes are used to receive satellite signals, which are then carried to the receiver by wires. The satellite radio receiver is fixed to the dashboard of the car.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

Navigating, using the GPS navigation system is the latest trend. Special car antennas are used to capture navigation signals from the global positioning system. Some of the units can receive navigation and radio signals from satellites.
Nowadays, a computerized car audio system is available that can handle audio signals for the phone, radio signals from satellites, and navigational videos from that global positioning system.

How Does it Work

  • The mast has a nylon cord attached to its base. This cord is reeled in by a reversible electrical motor to lower or eject it.
  • When the power car radio mast is fully extended or collapsed, the motor stops reeling in or out. For this purpose it is provided with two switches.
  • Electrical power is supplied using a wire connected to it.
  • Another wire leading from the radio and connected to the antenna acts as the actuator.
  • The whole assembly is mounted firmly so that it cannot move when it is actuated to complete the circuit.
  • It reduces wear and tear of the electronic components that comprises a significant portion of the car parts, and prolongs the life of the system.
  • A fuse aligned with the power prevents the chances of a fire occurring due to overheating of the motor, in case it fails to stop while its reeling in or out.
Radio signals received by the antennas of power cars are fed to an amplifier, which amplifies the signal and feeds it to the speakers. Boosters improve the reception of signals. Replacing a broken piece is not a big deal. These parts are easily available on Internet outlets and also through dealers or local retailers.