Car Radio

How to Repair or Replace a Car Radio Antenna


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Replacing your car radio antenna is something most people can do themselves. A great many vehicles come with an antenna that is built into the windshield. However, some new model vehicles have their antenna mounted on the vehicle's body. A car radio antenna built into the windshield cannot be fixed at home, but it can be replaced with an aftermarket car antenna.

Material List:

  • New car radio antenna
  • Ratchet set
  • Regular (flat head) screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Wrench set
  • Portable drill with drill bits (optional)

Step 1: Determine Car Stereo Antenna Type

Some car radio antennas are fixed. This means that they do not have the ability to retract or extend. Other types are automatic, and these will extend or retract when the car radio is turned on or off. The automatic type of car stereo antenna is further divided into types, the first being motorized. This type of car radio antenna extends and retracts using a motor and cable, and requires a larger amount of space and an electrical connection. The next type is vacuum operated. This type will have a cylinder that is attached to a vacuum line. Vacuum lines are typically rubber, but could be plastic. When determining the car stereo antenna type, it may be necessary to remove a panel of interior covering to expose the antenna body. If you are unsure, check with a vehicle dealership or your owner's manual.

Step 2: Old Antenna Removal

If you have determined that you have a motorized model, you must first disconnect one of the battery cables. Disconnect the car radio antenna cable by unplugging it from the antenna housing. Mark and unplug the electrical cables or the vacuum line from the antenna housing. If you have a fixed antenna, you will only need to unplug the car stereo antenna cable. Using the proper tools, unbolt the car radio antenna from the body of the vehicle. Take note of and be careful not to distort or deform the antenna seal located on the exterior side of the antenna mounting. You want to keep this seal in good condition in case you need to use it when mounting the new antenna. Be aware that if you install the new antenna without the seal, water will leak into the vehicle.

Step 3: New Antenna Installation

If you are replacing an antenna that is built into the windshield, you will need to locate a spot inside the trunk of the vehicle to mount the aftermarket car antenna. A hole will need to be drilled through the vehicle's body in order to insert the antenna and bolt it into place. If you intend to use a motorized model, you will need to run electrical wires from the fuse box to the antenna. If you're replacing an existing body mounted car radio antenna, reverse the procedure outlined in step 2 above.

Repairing or replacing a car stereo antenna is a job that almost anyone can perform at home. With a minimum of tools and a little bit of time, you can complete a task that you can be proud of.

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