You’re blasting your music, the bass drops, and the headlights dim out—again. But did you know this is an easy fix with a stiffening capacitor? With a little bit of investment and an easy installation, a stiffing capacitator can take your car’s stereo system to the next level.

If you’re doing your research to see if you need a stiffing capacitor and what kind you should get, below are some basic Q’s and A’s to ensure you make the right decision. 

First of all, why would I need a capacitor for my car?

High wattage car stereo amplifiers soak up large amounts of current from your car’s electrical system. In many cases, when loud bass sounds play, your car’s electrical system can’t supply the current fast enough so this causes the voltage to drop. The dip in voltage is why the lights dim when there is a heavy bass note. This is a visual confirmation of what is going on with the electrical system.

Without enough current to supply the amplifiers, not only causes your lights to dim but also your music to seem weak and flat plus it causes extra strain on the amplifier and electrical system. To prevent this, you can install a stiffing capacitor next to your amplifiers.

How does a capacitor work?

Stiffing capacitors store electricity, which they can discharge very quickly unlike the vehicles battery and alternator. They give your amplifier quick jolts of power when the bass hits to cover the amount of current it requires for musical transients. This ensures the amplifiers in your car are properly supplied and working at peak performance.

Do I need a capacitor or battery?

If your lights dim severely, a capacitor might not be enough. In this instance, it may be more beneficial if you install a larger or secondary battery and/or upgrade your alternator. A fast discharging AGM battery like Stinger’s Power2 batteries are a good replacement for the slow batteries typically found in vehicles, they have increased storage and fit in the factory locations. 

Can I install a capacitator in my car?

Any installation can accommodate a capacitor as long as there is space for it in the vehicle. The capacitor can be added anywhere in-line with the main power lead to the amplifiers (preferably with the bass amp if multiple amplifiers are used).

What size capacitor should I get?

Capacitors come in sizes ranging from 1 farad to 10 farads and in 2 types – Standard and Hybrid.

Standard Electrolytic (looks like a tall soda can) suggestions are to install 1 farad for every for every 1,000 watts RMS of total system power. Space permitting; Standard is the best all around option.

Hybrid (looks like a small amplifier) suggestions are 5 farads for every 1,000 watts RMS of total system power. The Hybrid type is better suited when a secondary battery is needed, but space or budget may hinder that option. Hybrids use two types of capacitors to yield a longer supply of current, fast acting electrolytic type and higher storage capacity, but slower acting carbon capacitors. The two types together act like a capacitor/battery combo, hence the name Hybrid.

When choosing a capacitor however, it doesn’t hurt to add more than the minimum. In fact, more is definitely better. 

Do you think a car audio capacitor is right for your system? If the answer is yes, take the next step and start looking for the best capacitor on the market for your vehicle.