Sound System Questions

Kirstie_HKirstie_H EdmundsAdministrator Posts: 11,132
Got a problem with your radio? Speakers cutting out? Put your sound system questions in here and we'll see if we can help out.

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  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I was advised that I might be able to switch the CD/cassette radio in my 1999 Ford Ranger with the cassette-only radio in my 2000 Mercury Villager. Apparently it requires depressing four pins at once while pulling the chassis the other direction. Does this take special tools? Any advice will be appreciated.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I have pulled Ford radios using four nails that are pushed into the "what inell are these?" holes at the outer edges of the radio until resistance.. then a tad more.. and then pull our the radio.

    the holes are meant for two pull loops with balls on the ends... push 'em in until they click, spread 'em apart, and pop the radio right out. supposedly only a couple bucks if you can find them. crutchfield has them in stock, possibly dealer parts does, otherwise order from your local wizard and have them delivered by unicorns in mithril pouches.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Or use 2 pieces of a coat hanger bent into U shapes.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Great ideas-- I'll give them a try.
  • paulelgordopaulelgordo Member Posts: 1
    This question relates to a Delphi single CD player in a RTS radio in a Chevrolet Impala.>

    A few nights ago, on a five hour drive, I was
    > playing CD's when, as I inserted a new CD, the
    > player took the CD, started a rather unpleasant
    > whirring noise, refused to eject the CD and finally
    > stopped its noise altogether. The radio works, but
    > all CD-related buttons are inoperative. It is still
    > digesting my CD.
    > The car is less than two months old. I'm very
    > disappointed in the CD player and I don't look
    > forward to taking it in to my dealership.
    > Before I get into the repair function, are you aware
    > of anything that could be done to eject the CD or
    > are there button strokes on the radio that can be
    > made to diagnose the problem?
    > Any assistance is appreciated.
    > Regards,
    > [email protected]
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    the mechanism has gone bad, and the CD will be have to be recovered manually after the radio unit is pulled. it may be scratched, depends on what went wacko. the good news is this should be a warranty claim. the bad news is the service guys might not take the covers off the player to try and recover the CD because it could wipe out their chance to get the warranty credit, depends on what policy delphi has on core returns. but the CD could be unplayable depending on scratches anyway.

    5 to 10 percent of everything dies within warranty, take an attitude break, and give the guys a chance.

    now, if you get a couple more skunks put in the dash under warranty, it might be a decent plan to put in an aftermarket machine when the CD warranty is up (those are probably either 90 days or a year, and I would bet on 90 days.)
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    The warranty claim is for the dealer to worry about, insist on the retrieval of your CD if the dealer has to take it apart to get it it's their problem, not yours, they might send it to a repair shop to get your CD back. The CD might be wasted though, if it was making all kinds of noise stuff was hitting stuff that isn't supposed to be touched, you may have a claim on that CD too, if you ask the service guy about it they might just tell you to go get a new CD and bring them the receipt for it, it did happen under warranty, and it wasn't intentional so it can't hurt to ask. As far as the length of the warranty is concerned the radio is covered under the bumper to bumper warranty for 3 yrs/36k miles, regardless of the replacement radio, they will HAVE to replace it 100 times if nessesary under warranty, as long as you don't have a kid trying to feed the thing pop tarts or something.

    I would settle down about the whole thing and just have the dealer replace the radio, if you don't use everything now while it is under warranty then you would be stuck paying out of your own pocket later. It's like a new computer, they say run the hell out of it for 2 days if nothing breaks it will be good until your done with it and get a new one. swschrad is correct in his/her thinking about the stuff dieing under warranty, so take a break and once it gets fixed you will be happy again. Don't let this bother you, it's a minor problem, remember it's no something that wil leave you stranded, and it's only a minor inconvenience.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H EdmundsAdministrator Posts: 11,132
    Here's an interesting article about Sound Systems. Hey, so it's not really M&R, but everyone loves a good sound system, don't they?

    Top 10 Sound Systems in Cars Under $30,000 for 2002


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  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I changed out a "busted" stereo in my 1986 Olds Custom Cruiser. I got a good mail-order buy (Ahem!) on a SPARKOMATIC stereo cassette unit. The guy I commuted with gave me grief 'til Hades wouldn't have it, but we agreed that funny name or not, it was a decent unit. If I knew why I am posting this, I'd tell you. (:oÞ
  • moobthoj1moobthoj1 Member Posts: 8
    I have a 1995 Acura Legend with premium Bose sound system. the funny thing is that every cold morning, the music sounds terrible..with this rice crispy noise from all speakers. then after the car warms up or the outside tempearture warms up, the rice crispy noise is gone. it happens every morning. what could it be?
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Cold cones?
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Member Posts: 593
    My wife needed a new car in the early 1990's, so we bought a Caprice LTZ. It was factory equipped with a Delco Bose system. IMHO, the system wasn't noteworthy at all.
    After reading the above Edmunds' link, I find it hard to believe that they (Bose) may have made that much progress in the last few years. However, we traded the Caprice for a 2000 Lincoln LS. Now THERE'S a factory sound system!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    bose was one of the first upscale systems where the car makers brought in an audio design specialist to adapt the best they could get to the horrible conditions and soundstage a car provides. it's almost more notable from the standpoint of choosing a good audio outfit for your home to see who DOESN"T even try to get consistent quality out of a car system, but I digress.

    I rather like the Mach sound system in my 2000 Exploder as well, but remember, this is in a car, and you can't override all the noise sources at different points in the sonic range, and at different mixes and levels, throughout the drive to anywhere.

    of course, if all you want is thump thump thumpathumpathumpthump thump thump, who cares?
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    The mast on my power aerial was damaged beyond reclamation, and I contemplated great sums of money leaving my hip pocket on wings. My NAPA connection informed me today that if the motor was okay, they had a replacement mast. It was so easy to replace, it was disgusting! The procedure is "magic" and I recommend you never fear it. And NAPA masts were ONE THIRD the cost I was quoted by my nearby Chrysler parts desk.
  • icwineicwine Member Posts: 4
    I have a Toyota Avalon (2001). This is not the upgrade system. The stereo system (made by Delco, I guess)has annoying problems. As I'm driving, the volume goes in and out. By the way, these are powerful 50 WATT radio stations! Toyota tells me that they had problems with the radio. So, Toyota flipped the bill and I got a nice Alpine stereo. Guess what...Still same problem! Better quality sound I have now, but still that annoying volume fluctuation. So, is it an antenna problem (which is in the rear window glass), or a grounding problem Toyota has? The CD player seems to be OK. I need help?
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    lots of issues back in the old GM dipole days, the low power AM broadcast guys just hated that windshield antenna for exactly the symptoms you describe. the usual recommended solution has been to drill a guide hole, punch a bigger one, and insert a real antenna in some fender someplace.

    even if this in-glass antenna was a good idea, having an antenna that is bounded by a big fat RF ground on both sides, there is another issue. AM radio is vertically polarized on transmit. double-L shaped window antennas are horizontally polarized with a balanced feedline in what looks like the vertical section of each line. the signal hits your antenna at 90 degree angles, and you really don't get any induction = signal to feed to the radio. balanced feedlines are not supposed to pick up signals. FM is horizontally polarized or circularly polarized, depending on the antenna the broadcaster bought, so these silly artifacts in the glass work on FM.

    I really thought that brainless fad that raised a windshield $100-200 in price had died.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    My 1998 Pathfinder has both the windshield antenna and a fender antenna-- from the factory!
  • icwineicwine Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for the response. I'm the one who is experiencing the annoying volume flucuations while driving on all local FM radio stations. I have a hunch, that it could be the rear window antenna. I am going to install an antenna that inserts just above my rear-view mirror. I really don't want to drill any holes yet for a power antenna (since the car is leased!)
    But, if this does not work, it's probably some mysterious bug in the Toyota Avalon. Any other suggestions please let me know!
  • poliwhirlguypoliwhirlguy Member Posts: 21
    My 95 Lexus LS400 has been givin me grief for quite some time now. During the winter, the passenger side speakers started cutting in and out or going crackily. Now, they have reduced power. If I turn the balance to the right side and turn the volume to high, I can make out what is playing but that's it. The left speakers have always been fine as has the subwoofer.

    I tried a different amp and the problem was still there. I am unsure how to access the speakers themselves. Is there a simple way to troubleshoot power to speakers other than using the wiring diagram which I don't have? I have checked all connections to the amp and to the headunit.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    which indicates that not only do the speakers need replacing, but that you need to determine how it happened (almost certainly water got past the barriers) and fix that as well.
  • losangelesemtlosangelesemt Member Posts: 279
    I also believe that moisture has made it into your system. The speakers in question will most likely need replacing, but as the above post states, you need to figure out if a vapor/moisture barrier is to blame or something similar. If you are unable to determine, a good electrical shop will most likely provide a plausible answer.
  • poliwhirlguypoliwhirlguy Member Posts: 21
    i didnt realize that water moisture could be such a significant factor in a speaker. most of the responses i've been getting are to just check the speaker connector since with age it may have worn down some. i will admit this...your answer about the water does seem EXTREMELY plausible. the car had a lot of rust underneath. the service manager said that it looked like the car had come from a shore-like environment and the salt was causin all the rust.

    are you referring to the cone? what will be rotted? i have to figure out how to access the speakers in the doors. the satellite by the side view mirror is fine. that metal screen just pops off. those speakers in the door are just a PITA. i have no clue. i do know this...if they're rotted i am not replacing them with genuine nakamichi speakers. they're way too expensive and i'm sure i could get a better one for cheaper.
  • jeepvanjeepvan Member Posts: 46
    I have 97 Accord EX. My little son, put a few coins inside the cassette player, and now it is not playing. The cassette goes inside and comes out immediately. The AM/FM is fine. Any idea how to fix this? a rought cost estimate ? Experts please help. Thanks in advance.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    generally there is no "generally" in how the speakers mount, etc.

    try searching on your car at, they have a lot of useful stuff on the mechanical parts of fitting new geegaws into car stereo spaces, and following links to get recommendations for your car model should also yield links to how to replace the speakers.

    if you have rust issues in the doors, you're going to lose the next set of speakers, as well.

    generally, water damages the cones, and if the victrola is played with wet speakers, their glued seams will come apart and the cone material can shred. the suspension for the voice coil can also shift, warp, or come off the speaker frame.

    you would lengthen the period between failures slightly by using a "waterproof" speaker type made with plastic instead of other cone materials, but it's still going to be a problem unless you have a good barrier behind the speaker to divert water down the door channels, and the channels let the water drain away and don't let splashing from puddles come up the bottom of the door.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    the coins (hopefully) are only blocking the mechanism from operating. it is also possible for them to short electronics on the radio boards inside and thus wipe you out on that unit.

    you're going to have to take it out, pull the top cover, and shake the coins out, inspecting to see there are none left before you restore the unit and see if it works. the top covers are press-fits with a few interlocking tabs nowadays; removal of the radio can be interesting in most cars. if you don't have a shop manual, again, try and see if they have a replacement guide online that shows how to remove and reinstall a radio in your vehicle.

    if the thing is ruined, and you want to replace it, they don't have factory stuff, but they sell all brands and models.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Does Crutchfield, or any other outfit, offer direct "slide in" units for Ford (Clarion) substitutions? If this is not enough info to convey my drift, I'll expand it.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    "single slot" ford stuff that isn't "jellybean taurus" is basically a DIN-C chassis, the double-height unit in my 2000 Exploder is two DIN-C, and they have crosses for 'em. there might be mount kits for some vehicles and some chassis sizes, and there are commonly hacker harnesses availiable so you don't have to mangle the factory wiring. I've been impressed looking at their catalogs with the outfit, and after Best Buy got rid of Clarion, was the first place on a Google search that turned up Clarion CAA-355-600 CD magazines; they arrived in 4 days.

    they also have ford radio pullers for something like $2.60, as I remember, it took $5 to get a set at NAPA to threaten my Mach head when the lights went dim the other day. the threat worked, didn't even have to stick 'em in and pull the radio to see if an old solder jockey can still replace the photon dispensers.

    from my 90 ranger and a 92 escort my sister briefly had, looks like the major effort would be to make the factory radio's slide clip to hold the back end fit on a new unit. if the DIN rearmount socket is NOT in the right place for some ungodly reason, you use the time-honored method of bending a hangar strap to get to a chassis brace hole someplace.

    crutchfield really looks like a one-stop and they're worth checking on your application. the internet search is pretty good (or was some five months ago, these things change sometimes) in only isolating the units that fit your application.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Many thanks. It seems that my two daughters find the Ford/Clarion no-CD with tape-only unit in our 2000 Mercury Villager to be total anathema. A vehicle with no CD function is absolutely unacceptable! (:oÞ
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I just drifted over to crutchfield online, and the selector (it uses frames, so I can't give you the link, you'll have to go "shop for car audio" and drill down on your application yourself), gives this count on the 2000 mercury villager, am/fm/tape option.... /snip/

    All CD Receivers 128 models In-dash entertainment at its best with these CD/radio powerhouses.

    CD/MP3 Receivers 38 models Powerful CD receivers play back MP3 files recorded on CD-R or CD-RW.

    CD/Cassette Combos 1 model Three-way in-dash enjoyment with CD, cassette, and radio

    CD/DVD Receivers 5 models Play DVD movies, audio CDs, and the radio from a single in-dash audio/video player

    /snip/ and of course, upgrade speakers with any necessary adapters, magic harnesses, and other geegaws are to be found here. the joint is pretty neat even for browsing. if you DO have a CD button on your deck, indicating a remote might have been factory-availiable in some trim lines, they may even have a convertable CD changer with wiring kit and a "language box" enabling it to take orders from your unit.

    browse away! for the billy hell of it, I drilled down on the CD/cassette machine... a Sanyo with control for a CD changer as well as AM/FM/CD/cass included in one ISO space, 20 wpc, etc. it's just $60 more than I paid for a really nice sanyo cassette machine in 1978 that ran for 12 years with only deterioration in the receiver front end (probably a static zap killed the first RF stage). installation on that is a slide-in according to their sizing guidelines using a front plate, included (you click on the size and the EZ boxes, if any, next to the unit to see what the hack-and-hammer factor would be on installation.) in this case, the front panel adaptor is included free, but it's worth checking to see if you need a wiring adaptor so you don't mung up the factory wiring, thus preventing putting the original squeak box back in on trade, lease expiration, etc.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I located a "factory authorized" outfit about 60 miles away that offered to install the "missing" 6CD changer for $400.00-- and that is significantly less than any Ford Corp. car dealership in town by about 30%. I will get to the crutchfield site soon.

    I really think we have come to the time when manufacturers not putting in CD as a standard feature goes against the best interests of selling vehicles!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    but remember that GM still had 8-track indash well into the 1980s, and some of the remote dealers thought that was the only "tape" that anybody would be interested in.

    I specifically ordered my 76 Skylark with am/fm/stereo cassette, and damn if it didn't come with a freakin' 8-track Delco. that's why I changed to a Sanyo as soon afterwards as I got tired of having a punky Pioneer underdash that ate tapes and a big old ITW lighted/masked DPDT push button (with an attached third micro switch McGuyvered in for DC power) to switch my power and speakers back and forth... and had the money to make the change.

    glad you found a changer at a reasonable price to mate with your factory job.

    / free speech rant follows /

    of course, most of these CD decks are MP3 compatible and CD/RW compatible readers just as scrambled CDs are hitting the market that mung up non-1991-design players to protect the poor hurting labels from ripoff artists. the crap-track on Sony's latest Sheryl Crow release that serves as copy protection even kills the firmware on iMacs, you try to play that record, you have to send the Apple in for factory repair.

    if you have recent Sony disks with a rather definite outer ring to the grooves, it might be protected with that crap-track. it is reported the hacker fix is to overmark that crap track (supposedly nonsense data, but tell that to iMac owners, to whom it apparently functions as a BIOS loader without valid code to load afterwards) with a black Sharpie marker.

    if they wanna be that way, I have a RTR 10-1/2 inch deck, a premium turntable, and I can always go back to analog.

    / free speech rant over for now in this space ;) /
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    About two years ago, I bought a JVC XL-R5000. It is wonderful. I make my own CD's from my analog vinyl collection, etc., and I have yet to find a player on which they are incompatible.
    But! Oh, the time that is eaten up, mastering new CD's...
    I have not seen the new protection tracks on recent CD's, but am interested. Are you saying that common CD's are now being protected by nonsense tracks that can damage a computer via the CD drive? And are you saying that these tracks are in the circumference area versus the center area of the recorded side of the CD? And lastly, the offending groove can be "filled" and nullified with "Sharpie" black ink?
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    several links posted below for continuing research on the current copy-protection scheme used by Sony Music to defeat multi-purpose CD decks used to play (and rip for duplication) their disks....

    and Apple's official tech support document on machines that have been whaled by these disks is at

    kbase.woa/wa/query? - searchMode=Assisted&type=id&val=KC.106882

    which may "break in half" on a line wrap when I post this, needing a cut-n-paste to see the tech page. if you can't do it, you can reach the link from the Register article above.

    in short, it's a real problem, part of the wondrous greedhead schemes of the record outfits to bypass the "fair use provisions" of US and international copyright law that basically permit you to make a million copies of anything you want... as long as you and only you, the owner, use them... and don't cheat the authors by selling or tranferring any of those copies to anybody else.

    worse than putting falsework on a Yugo and selling it as a Bentley.

  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I have gone to the site, but am having some navigational problems. I'll work on it, and thanks for the tip. I do not see any explanation of the marker black ink technique there!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I think even the weekly newsmagazines have mentioned by now that under the Digital Millenium Copy Act (DMCA,) which makes illegal having any tool which can be used to circumvent copy protection on media, all the kiddies can now be taken by the lawyers for having black Sharpies in their bookpacks.

    I sorta expect blue might work if it's new, but black is less resistant to fading.

    the old saw about edging your CDs with a green Sanford's marker to improve the sound quality was given some credence by the first generations of CD-R disks with the green-and-gold construction. geez, did everything I transferred onto gold Sony and 3m/Imation disks sound a ton better than the original CDs! the legend is that scattering within the polystyrene by the IR from the laser is absorbed by the green ink, purifying the sound by reducing digital artifacts at the detector.

    it may not be any more accurate than putting a "type R" sticker on the back improves your horsepower rating, but my ears didn't lie.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    My concern is the idea that a bought-and-paid-for new CD might corrupt one's home computer during simple acts of playing and listening. That is beyond wrong, out there in greedville!
    I suspect DVD will be less than the buyers' choice over other media, due to greed-driven protections, but now we get retro-invasion into our CD world! I'm going to be sick...
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    Attack of the Pinheads. everybody seems to want to put another asterisk into our ability to do what we want to with stuff we paid for. in the meantime, enjoy what you have before they try to pull another format change on us, or keep the analog stuff maintained and convert everything ;)
  • shemzshemz Member Posts: 34
    hey all
    i have a 95 Nissan Altima and the fron 2 speares sound just like a flat tire...wobble...slapp...whatever, they just seem tore...they are 7 years old and are factory style.
    my Cd is a JVC i think 45x4. So guys which speakers are the best that would give quality sound....and not expensive... iam a collage student you know.
    I went to walmart and found $10 speakers...they look ok...not brand name but they are 35 watts...any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated
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