RDS Explained

RDS is the text that appears on the radio display in the dashboard of cars.   In newer cars the RDS text appears in the center console multipurpose display.   You know, it’s the text that tells you what station you’re listening to and for some stations what song is playing.   We’ve turned that text into a powerful display ad for your business.   Just think of it as radio with written words and messages.   But it’s a little complicated.  We’re going to help you with a quick tutorial.

First off, almost every radio is a little different.   And the newer the car (and more expensive the car!!) the better the display and the more text that will be displayed at the same time.   That makes your message appear and function differently depending on the vehicle.   There are several data fields on most radios.   But we’re going to focus on the “PT”  (scroll) and “RT” (static text) fields.

The “PT” field is the scrolling message.   This field can contain up to 128 characters (including spaces).   Most radios will display 8 characters at a time.   If the word is longer than 8 characters it will “slide” the characters across the screen until the word is complete.  The RT static text field can display up to 64 characters (including spaces).   The video (below)  shows how the scrolling looks.   This radio is in a 2018 Lincoln.  Both the PT scroll message and the RT static message are displayed at the same time. and stay on the screen continuously.

The video below is from a 2016 Ford F150 base model with the basic radio.  This radio will only display the “PT” scrolling message unless you hit the “INFO” button.

Here’s the same radio (below, 2016 Ford F150) after the “INFO” button has been pressed.  This “RT” static text field can contain up to 64 characters (including spaces).   Depending on the radio all 64 characters will appear on the screen at once.   .

Here’s what the same message looks like on a 2017 Subaru.   Both messages are displayed at the same time all the time.  The “RT” static message is displayed on the bottom of the screen and the “PS” scrolling message is above the tower icon.

One more note.   In these examples the Scrolling message and the Static message are the same.   But they can be different.   Keeping the messages the same will insure that just about every car radio display will show at least one of the messages and in more and more cases (as newer cars hit the road) both messages.