Advice for Consumers & Support for UK Suppliers of In-Car Electronics

Originally set-up as the Mobile Media Specialists Association, a trade association incorporated in 2003, 'InCarExpert' is now run as an independent website helping to 'fly the flag' of the UK specialist aftermarket in-car electronics industry and provide advice to consumers. Our aim is to promote all brands and independent specialist retailers in the UK in-car market that provide a good standard of service, workmanship and reliability.

The website's administrator is Kevin O'Byrne, a former Secretary of the Association and founding Editor of Car Stereo & Security magazine, the UK's leading specialist in-car electronics publication in its day. In a career in ICE that began with Pioneer Car Audio in the UK at the end of the 70s, Kevin became a freelance writer and editor whose work appeared in magazines including Which CD?, CD Review, In-Car, Fast Car, Car Hi-Fi, Maxim, BMW Car and What Car? He also had a big involvement in bringing the autosound competition scene to the UK and was joint Head Judge at the first two European Autosound Finals organised by ECAP under IASCA rules and held in Bochum (Germany) and Rome, as well as judging IASCA rules competitions in Italy, Spain, Russia, Ireland and the UK. He later became involved in product development, including spells with Recoton (Phase Linear brand) and Seikaku (Alto Mobile).

The MMSA gave up its Limited Company status voluntarily at the end of 2012 in order to reduce administrative burdens. Rather than allow a useful resource to die, it was taken on by the former Secretary with the encouragement and support of UK manufacturers, notably Clarion GB.

What makes the in-car aftermarket specialist important to consumers?
In the early days, new cars came without any kind of sound system - not even a hole in the dash. But consumer demand for entertainment systems led to auto electrical suppliers having to learn ways to make the most of the little they had in the way of products. Valve radios, 8-track cassette, compact cassette, coaxial speakers... these were the pioneering days of in-car entertainment.

This spawned the specialist audio installer, many starting out as auto electricians with a love of music. If a customer pulled into the garage and wanted an audio upgrade, they got called over! In time many set-up their own dedicated audio and security businesses, and today many of those same businesses - as well as a whole new generation - form what is known as the "in-car aftermarket". The term 'aftermarket' comes from the products being fitted after the vehicle has left the factory production line.

Since those early days, the in-car world has grown to include DVD with seat & roof mounted video screens, DAB digital radio, satellite navigation and mobile office equipment. There's an ever growing list of in-car equipment that only the authorised vehicle dealership or an independent specialist has the expertise to install, and even your car's supplier will often have limited experience and offer only a small selection of ready-made upgrade packages.

Big name companies purport to offer a professional fitting service but the industry has seen them try before - when cars were far less sophisticated electronically - and they failed back then. Under the banner of the InCar Expert Installer Network, the Association championed the independent retailers that offer a truly specialist service and the kind of knowledgeable advice and working practices you should insist on if you value your vehicle and the performance and safety of anything fitted to it away from the factory.

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