Fixing Your Car Radio

Next to air conditioning, one of the most necessary parts of a car that prevents drivers from going absolutely crazy (especially on long trips), is the car radio. Whether it’s your daily dose of NPR or rockin’ out to some heavy metal to get you pumped up for work, the car radio and all its additional components (cassette player, CD player, iPod connection) are an important part of a driver’s car and thus any malfunction is cause for alarm.


Before taking apart and inspecting your car radio, you need to identify the actual cause of the problem. Is it just an issue of no sound? Does the sound come and go? Or is there a lot of static? If the radio doesn’t work, it might be something as simple as an issue with the battery or an unplugged wire under the dashboard. Other potential issues that can be fixed at home include a loose antenna, which can cause a weak or distorted radio signal; a dirty volume control, which can be fixed by taking it apart and spraying some electrical cleaner to lube it up and clean it; and a dead or dying noise suppression filter, which is located on or near the alternator.

If your car is more important to you as a cassette or CD player, then regular maintenance to ensure it stays in tip top shape is essential. Luckily, this is incredibly simple and can be accomplished at home in just a few minutes. All you need to do is purchase a relatively inexpensive cassette or CD cleaner kit and follow the directions on the packaging. This should be done at least once a year, twice if you can swing it. Your ears will thank you when you CD player doesn’t break down after several years of use.

If the problem requires you to remove the radio receiver, disassemble it, and fiddle with the circuit board, you should know exactly what you’re doing. If not, then you run the risk of doing irreparable damage to the receiver, which may require expensive repairs or the purchase of a new radio entirely. If you do attempt to make the repairs yourself, you will need several items, such as a screwdriver, canned air, a wrench, and a soldering iron/solder.

For most, repairing a car radio receiver is as simple as purchasing a new one; however, in some cases, seeking out a trained professional to fix it for you is often necessary.

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Posted on June 14, 2012 at 9:00 AM