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Car Radio Repair

last updated July 18, 2019

Driving without listening to your favorite radio show or some music is not as fun. Therefore, if your car radio is not working for some reason then making long journeys may feel like a tedious chore. So, how can you fix a car radio? Fortunately, you can repair your car radio at home by simply checking a few common problems.

Car Radio Repair

 

Car radio repair: Common issues

Some of the items you may need for fixing common car radio issues include:

  • Car radio removal tool if necessary
  • Test tape or CD if necessary
  • The contact details of the car manufacturer if necessary
  • Replacement fuses if necessary

Here are some of the steps to take if you want to figure out why your car radio is not working:

  • Step 1 – The first thing you need to do is check the basics. Make sure that your car stereo is set to radio mode and not CD or tape and also that the volume is turned up. Ensure that the radio is tuned to a radio station because e there are some car radios that emit silence instead of static between stations. Therefore, it is advisable that you check these things early and confirm or eliminate them as the cause of your car stereo problem before moving on.
  • Step 2 – Check the aerial to make sure that is not damaged or bent. Car aerials are particularly prone to damage inside a car wash and some damage may not be readily apparent.
  • Step 3 – Try and play a tape or CD in the car radio if any of these functions are available. You can eliminate speaker connections for the list of possible issues if you hear sound or music. If you hear sound only, it is an indication that there is a problem with the stereo itself.
  • Step 4 – Detach the stereo from the dashboard and then check the audio connections. However, in order to pull it out, you may need a special tool to grip the stereo. You can easily purchase this from most auto or hardware stores. Check the round aerial connection that is situated at the back of the radio to make sure that is attached securely. After that, re-attach the radio back into the dashboard and ensure that you don’t bunch or trap audio cables behind it. Finally, text to see if that has fixed the issue.
  • Step 5 – Try fuse replacement. You should know that your car’s electronics are hooked up to a fuse box. Therefore, if the stereo’s fuse is blown then it will prevent the radio from receiving power. You can use your user manual as a guide to locate the fuse box in the car and also change the appropriate fuse.

In the event that your stereo still doesn’t respond after going through the steps mentioned above, then the problem may be more serious and internal to the stereo. If your car radio is an old unit then it might not be worth the cost of repair in which case finding a suitable replacement may be the best option.

NB: when you are examining the wiring or removing the radio from the dashboard, ensure that your car is switched off and the keys are also removed from the ignition.

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How do you reset your car radio

Resetting your car’s radio is a simple and easy process that should only take you a few minutes. Here are some of the conditions that may require the resetting of your car stereo:

  • If your car radio malfunctions
  • Before you operate your car stereo for the first time
  • After you have changed the connections or wiring
  • After you have had the car battery replaced

But first, you need to switch on the car and take note of what the stereo displays to ensure that the stereo is actually locked. If your radio display reads CODE then you know for sure that it is locked. The second step is to open the user manual for your car to get the four-digit code that you need to reset the radio. This code may be printed on a detachable card. Lastly, you need to follow the instructions as specified by the manual so that you input the code correctly.

There are some car models that don’t have a reset button. Therefore, ensure that you check your manual for model-specific information.  You can also find your car’s manual posted on the model’s support page. Here are some of the steps you need to take if you want to reset your car radio. However, keep in mind that if you fail to complete the resetting process correctly, you may end up with an unnecessary headache.

For devices without a reset button

  • Step 1 – Press the OFF/SOURCE button on the front panel of your car radio for more than two seconds.
  • Step 2 – Turn on your car radio.

For devices with a reset button

Step 1 – Remove the faceplate from your car radio.

Step 2 – Press the RESET button on the front panel using a pointed object such as a ballpoint pen.

NB: These steps are for those whose car radio receivers have removable faceplates and may slightly vary based on the specific model number. However, if your car has a Bluetooth wireless feature then it would be necessary to perform the BT Initialize procedure to completely reset your stereo.

If you find yourself unable to reset your car’s radio try calling the dealership where you purchased the vehicle for assistance. You may need to read to them the serial number that is printed on the radio for the person at the dealership to consult a database and guide you through the process of resetting your car radio. If still, this doesn’t work, then you may need to drive the car to the dealership and have them take a look and fix the issue for you. Remember, there is a risk of data loss when performing any reset procedure. Your clock settings together with any other stored content may be deleted.

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What would cause my speaker to stop working?

Even though it may be easy to install car radio speakers, they are not always easy to operate. Regardless of how new your car audio installations is, a plethora of issues can crop up including sound not working, being distorted or cutting out.

Whether you want to listen to your favourite tunes during your daily commute or you are more interested in the quality of audiophile level, the following tips can assist you in keeping the music playing in your car.

Amplifiers

Amplifiers can enhance the sound of your car’s radio greatly. In addition to this, they also make the audio system of your vehicle a bit more complex. Therefore, it is crucial that you know how to operate the amplifier in order to maintain its peak performance. If the audio system of your car features an amplifier, ensure that you check its settings and connections. You may also be required to adjust the settings o the amplifier as too little or too much power may be routed to the speaker thus causing problems.

Connections

It doesn’t matter whether the connection is direct to the receiver or an amplifier, you need to check all the connections on your car radio speakers.  This is because your vehicle is constantly vibrating while it’s being driven making it easy for connections to become disconnected or loose.

Also, ensure that the wires are able to accommodate the entire power supply that is needed to operate the speakers. The most common symptoms of a faulty or loose connection is a speaker that occasionally works, cuts out from time to time or doesn’t work at all.

Blown speakers

If you hear a distinct distorted sound quality from your car’s sound system then there is a high chance that your speakers are blown out and cannot be repaired. This may also be visibly confirmed by checking to see if there is damage behind the speaker cover. Unfortunately, replacing the speaker is the only way to combat this issue.

Grounding

The earth or ground wire of your car’s stereo system greatly affects the overall performance of the audio system particularly the speaker. If you hear a spotty sound or no sound at all coming from your car’s sound system then the problem might be the grounding. Try and relocate the ground wire to a more stable location and also secure it firmly, particularly if it is bouncing around or lose.

If your car radio is not properly grounded, it may also pick up on the vehicle’s alternator thus resulting in a whining or bussing sound that fluctuates as your car’s power varies.

Why does my car radio keep cutting out?

There are five main issues that may be causing your car stereo to cut out when the vehicle is running. They are:

Old vehicle wiring – If your car is over forty years old chance are it has and over forty years old electrical system too. If your car has older ignition, you simply need to get updated plugs, caps and wiring installed. This is because old wiring may be the reason why your car radio keeps cutting out.

Shared ground or poor ground with other electronics – This can be the cause of your car radio cutting out thus, you need to move the ground to a clean location or just ground the stereo directly to the negative battery terminal. Check the ground wire from the engine to firewall. Also, install a ground strap from the engine to the chassis of your vehicle.

RF (Radio Frequency) interference – This is mainly caused by MSD or HEI after-market ignition systems. For HEI if your ignition is too advanced it will cause a spark thus creating RF interference. Therefore, you need to adjust the ignition so that it doesn’t fire prematurely. You may also want to put shielding on your car stereo’s USB cables. In addition to this, try and inspect your HEI from time to time to check for carbon build up, a loose or cracked cap and also the rotor for a burned or blackspot of the wiper. For the MSD, ensure that the main control box is isolated from the firewall.

Erratic ignition voltage – Test to ensure that both power sources are good. You can test this using a digital meter and not a test light. Ensure that both the Red ignition and Yellow constant do not have drops or spikes in voltage when the engine of your car is running. Keep in mind that your car’s stereo needs a constant voltage of between 11 and 14.9 volts.

USB cables are routed over or near high current wiring or ignition – Ensure that the USB cables are not wrapped up with the ignition harness and that they are also routed away from the car’s ignition switch. Avoid coiling the extra USB coiling.

How do you fix a blown fuse in a car radio?

Changing your car’s fuse is almost similar to changing one at home. Therefore, if you have ever blown a fuse at home and fixed it then you may have an idea of how to do it. However, if you have never blown one then congratulations, here are some of the steps you need to take when fixing a blown fuse in your car radio:

  • Step one: Locate the fuse panel on your car. You may want to use a user manual for this but they can usually be found under the deterring wheel.
  • Step two: Take off the cover of your fuse panel. On the reverse of the fuse panel’s cover, you will see a diagram showing what each fuse powers in your car. Inside you will see a range of numbers or colours that denote different amperages.
  • Step three: Locate the blown fuse which is quite easy because the inside will usually be black or the metal filament might be broken.
  • Step four: Use a variety of tools to remove the broken or blown fuse. It is important that you take precaution when doing this.
  • Step five: Insert a replacement fuse with the correct amperage then start the ignition and then turn on your radio to see if your handiwork has paid off.

Finally…

Car radio repair isn’t that complicated and sometimes the issue might just be a small one. Hope the information above comes in handy the next time your car radio has issues.

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