Do it Yourself: Repair a Car Radio
By Jon Stefansson
Driving isn't as fun without some music or a favorite talk radio show to listen to, so if your car radio stops working it can make long journeys a tedious chore. Luckily, by checking a few common problems you usually can repair your car radio at home.
Check the basics first. Ensure the car stereo is set to radio mode (not CD or tape) and that the volume is turned up. Make sure the radio is tuned to a station because some stereos emit silence instead of static between stations. It's better to check these simple things early and eliminate or confirm them as the source of the problem before moving on.
Check the aerial. Make sure it hasn't been bent or damaged. Car aerials are particularly susceptible to damage inside a car wash, and some damage may not be readily apparent.
Play a CD or tape in the car stereo if the function is available. If you hear music or sound you can eliminate speaker connections from the list of potential problems. Sound will indicate a problem with the radio itself.
Remove the radio from the dashboard and check the audio connections. You may need a special tool to grip the radio in order to pull it out. These can be purchased from most hardware or auto stores. Check the round aerial connection at the back of the stereo and ensure that it is securely attached. Put the stereo back into the dashboard, making sure not to trap or bunch audio cables behind it, and test to see if that has fixed the problem.
Replace the fuse. The electronics in your car are hooked up to a fuse box. If the radio fuse is blown it will prevent the stereo from receiving power. Locate the fuse box in the car using your manual as a guide and change the appropriate fuse.
If the radio still does not respond after following these steps it may be a more serious problem internal to the radio. If the unit is particularly old it might not be worth the cost of having it repaired, in which case the best option is to find a suitable replacement.