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Bad radio or bad wiring?

I have a '99 Lumina and a few weeks ago lost all sound from the stock radio. It powers up and everything else appears to be working normally, but I get no sound at any volume level. All the fuses seem fine, as does the antenna connection. I also tried grounding the radio to the chassis, but with no luck.

This weekend I went to the local scrap yard and pulled three stock radios from three similar Luminas ('96, '98 and '99) with no real success. One radio produced sound, but constantly went from low to ear-blastingly loud; the one from the '99 behaved just like my current radio; the final one played normally for about one second and then faded to an almost imperceptible level.

I checked online and all three cars show the same radio wiring harness, though I can’t rule out the possibility GM changed the wiring just enough between each model year to cause those issues.

I don’t mind putting in a new radio if it fixes the problem, but don’t want to spend the money if my trouble is actually in the car itself. Any help greatly appreciated!

Check speaker wires in trunk. If you have speakers in the doors, check wires there as well. Especially where wires pass from post to door where they flex when door moves.

I tweaked the speaker connections in the trunk and pulled the front door panels and tweaked those, too, and BEHOLD there was music! I’m seriously considering having another child just so I can name it after you. (Please don’t tell my wife.)

A million thanks, my friend!

Was it just one doors wiring that showed damaged wiring, can you describe exactly where the damage to the wiring was and how you fixed it? Now you have a chance to pay back CarTalk.

I never actually saw any damaged wiring. Before I pulled the front door trim and checked those connections I reached in the trunk and snugged up the connections on both back speakers and I suspect that’s where the culprit was. I wasn’t smart enough to try the radio after each tweak and only turned it on after I’d checked all the connections. However, during the half second when the radio played each time before, I did get sound from the front door speakers, but nothing from the back speakers. Because the speakers and their connections in the trunk are exposed to the trunk’s contents, my guess is I slightly dislodged one of the wires while pulling out my tools to replace the water pump that weekend.

As usual, while fixing one problem I created another.