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Can you fix terrible AM radio reception?

I own a Toyota 2016 Highlander Limited with an AM radio that picks up basically no reception. Worse AM in any vehicle I have ever owned. Any FIX known?

I think they want you to subscribe to Sirius or some i-phone music app. Didn’t AM die with Garner Ted Armstrong and Wolf Man Jack.

Two possibilities come to mind. Does FM work okay? If not, the antenna lead might be loose. The second is to replace the radio.

AM radio has been deprecated. My new radio, 20 years ago, has poor AM reception. Try an antenna coil. Can you still buy those?

The radio antenna grid is on the inside of the right rear quarter glass, certain types of window tint film can cause poor radio reception.


On the old radios, there was an antenna trimmer to adjust reception. Don’t know if the new electronic versions allow this or not but I guess the dealer would be the best to consult or the folks that fix the radios for the dealer. There are AM and FM circuit boards that I have had to replace in the past from the authorized repair shops.

But AM has been getting shaky for a while and the old stations seem to be cutting their signal power more frequently (no pun) than in the past. I can’t even get good reception in the garage with the car but as soon as I back out I’m ok until night time when they cut power. My radio in my garage is down to about two stations that I can get.

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If you know somebody who’s electronic’s knowledgeable they could do an experiment, connect up a regular car-radio antenna (the kind that’s sort of a wire attached to the roof that pokes up) in place of the window glass version you have now. If that makes a big difference then your built-in window glass antenna may be faulty. Fixing that could be done by replacing the window glass, or figuring out a way to mount a regular antenna to the car’s body. And there may be a way to repair a faulty window glass antenna. Make sure before going down any of these paths that the antenna’s signal and ground wires are properly connected to the radio of course.

It’s sad what’s happened to the quality of AM car radios. The golden years lasted from the 1940s to sometime in the 60s, when transistors replaced tubes. The fault is not of the transistors, but that along with their use it was possible to cheapen and lighten and reduce power consumption and in the process the actual quality (sensitivity, selectivity, noise rejection, etc.) was largely overlooked.

Does your AM radio work better with the engine and other electrics turned off? Have you tried it in another similar vehicle, maybe on a used car lot? A poor antenna connection, either at the antenna or the back of the radio, can affect AM more than FM. It might need to be unplugged and plugged back in to clean up the contacts.

Of course, in daytime, faraway AM stations can’t be heard. After dark, reception is always better and sometimes pleasantly surprising. Now if there were more programs that were interesting and elevating… but I digress.

AM radio , what 's that ?

I remembered that the radios in my house have terrible AM reception too. It’s a general disease.

If you can run it out of the car and have a long piece of wire (20 - 100 feet), wrap it around the radio. If that doesn’t work, it’s probably a poor radio - or there are no stations in your area. Can you get AM on your home radio?

I remember WOR running full-page ads in the New York Times claiming that they reached 38 states. I listed to Jean Shepard and Barry Farber in Maryland. I won a pizza in Cincinnati from Joe Martel. The glory days of AM are gone - I miss them.


I used to listen to Little Rock from Minnesota at night back then. Interesting that now I can get Chicago 400 miles away at night but not Minneapolis a mere 30 miles away. True though with Bruce Williams gone, and Al Malmberg, there’s not much to listen to anyway except music.

That can help radios that have a built-in ferrite rod antenna for AM, which almost all home and portable radios have, but car radios don’t. A ferrite rod would not work because of all the metal around the car radio, and it would pick up electrical noise from the engine and elsewhere in the car. A car radio’s only antenna is the whip or now more common grid on glass. It’s connected by coaxial cable to the radio to avoid picking up noise along the path. The presence or absence of more wire that is not directly connected has little or no effect on a car radio.

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Its probably due to the radio costing $1.00 from China . they are all garbage .

I hear ya. My 8 tracks don’t play very well either…


Wrong , I have not had a poor radio in years and many of them give excellent sound .


OEM radios today are considerably better then ANY OEM radiio 40 years ago. And please tell me what car audio receiver is NOT made in Asia.

I have a 2014 Highlander…I don’t have a problem listening to AM stations. But there aren’t a lot to listen to.

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There are AM HD stations and AM HD radios.

Radios do vary. In the early 2000s when I still listened to AM had a GM rental and the AM reception was definitely better than my Ford of the same year. But now that quality programming has disappeared from AM, I only listen to satellite or FM.

So true. There is a wide variety of quality on the market. I don’t know of any authoritative comparisons of car radios, as to their actual performance on AM. For home radios, an interesting and reliable info source is .

There are a lot of comments based on the antenna being the problem, but what does “basically no reception” mean?
Do you only get static on all frequencies or are some stations coming in very poorly?

Or is there no static and just dead silence or some monotone electronic hum? This might mean a bad radio unit that might still be under warranty.