You do not have to be an audio geek to resolve problems and perform car radio repair. Some simple problems that crop up from time to time can be fixed without the cost of a car stereo repair shop.
Noise or static is one common problem. All modern vehicles use alternators to generate the power they need. An alternator actually produces alternating current, just like in your house. It is converted into direct current (DC) by electronic components (a rectifier) located within the alternator. Your alternator can become a source of noise, like humming or whining, when the rectifier has gone bad. This situation can also affect the vehicle’s computer. Therefore, if you are experiencing erratic vehicle behavior as well, this could be your problem.
Another source of noise could be loose wiring. Your vehicle is exposed to temperature changes and vibrations each day. Changes in temperature cause items to expand and contract. The act of expansion and contraction could cause connectors to become loose. Moreover, vibrations caused by simply driving the vehicle can cause connectors to become loose. Noises produced by the above causes will typically go away when the vehicle is parked and not running. A motionless vehicle will not jostle connectors, and a vehicle that is not running is using the battery to power the radio.
What if the sound suddenly cuts off, but comes back again a short time later? This could be an indication that your amplifier is overheating. Power amplifiers generate a lot of heat. If the amplifier is mounted in a tight area, it may not be getting enough airflow to keep it cool. In addition, some form of debris could have fallen up against it. This sort of problem could also arise if a speaker wire or connector has come loose.
Most people think that they have a broken car radio when the antenna lead becomes loose. Since the antenna lead is plugged into the antenna, vibrations can cause it to loosen as well. An antenna that is not fully extended or simply a mis-tuned station can also cause poor reception. Symptoms that resemble poor reception can happen when playing tapes or CDs. In this case, the culprit is usually dirt. Both tape decks and CD players need to be cleaned from time to time. Most car stereo repair centers, auto parts stores and places that sell electronics will sell tape and CD cleaners. Another instance that drives people to the car stereo repair shop is a jammed tape or CD. Unfortunately, if your tape jams, the only way to clear it is to carefully pull the tape out of the deck by hand. CDs are considerably easier. Higher end decks will have a Force Eject Hole located next to the CD loading door. Simply take a paper clip, and straighten out one side of it. Use the straightened end to poke into the hole. The paper clip will cause the CD to manually eject from the deck.
By using your head and having some patience, a trip to the car stereo repair center can be avoided.