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Car Radio Won't Work After New Battery Installation

I went to Sam’s Club last weekend to purchase a new battery for my 2008 Chevy Equinox and have it installed. After they installed it, my car radio would not turn on at all. The clock on the radio interface had been reset to 12:00 when they disconnected the battery, but I could not reset the clock to the appropriate time after installation. After doing some research, I came up with two scenarios to look into:

-the fuse was damaged;
-or, the removal of the battery triggered a security lockdown on the car radio that requires a code to be inputted to make it operable again.

I checked the fuse, and it worked fine. I looked up the security lockdown item in the manual, and it explicitly noted that if this were to be the case, the interface would clearly indicate the word “LOCKED.” The interface does not indicate this. The only thing the interface indicates is the time, which is incorrect.

Are there any hypotheses as to why my car radio is now inoperable? And are there any suggested solutions for resolving this?


When the battery was disconnected it caused the radio not to recognize the VIN.

Try turning the ignition key to run position so the dash lights come on for ten minutes to see the radio recognizes the VIN so it works again.


+1 for @Tester and break out the owner’s manual. It should have a procedure for bringing your radio back to life.

Return to SAM’S. The worst they can do is say they do not have a clue. They also might know what to do.

I went back to Sam’s, and they didn’t have a clue. They aren’t real mechanics who can troubleshoot, they just do basic things like change batteries… Owner’s manual didn’t suggest much other than the theft item. I’ll look again to see if it mentions the VIN relation.

I’ll try Tester’s suggestion tonight. It’s the most plausible-sounding one I’ve heard so far. I’ll post again tomorrow to inform you what becomes of it.

The spark that occurs when a new battery is installed can cause a power surge that affects battery powered items like radio, ecu and bcm.

There may be a logic lock of the music radio requiring the battery to be disconnected overnight to clear.

The proper way to replace a battery on a modern car is to have a secondary power source hooked to the vehicle while the battery is removed.

If I had this problem I’d turn the speaker volume knob to minimum and turn the radio off – if possible – then disconnect the battery and let it sit that way overnight. The reconnect the battery in the AM. This is sort of like rebooting your computer. Might work, worth a shot at least. Try to turn everything off in the car that you can think of before. AC, turn signals, lights, blower fans, etc. Disconnect and reconnect the battery using the battery negative post, not the positive.

If it were mine I’d stop by the Chevy dealer’s parts window and request a printed copy of the “initialization procedure” for the radio. These procedures are the ones that the dealers go through to set all the computers during the “prep” of new cars.

If proper battery replacement practices were followed then the radio, clock, or anything else on the car would never have lost battery power. There are a few rules for replacing a battery:

Always make sure the radio and any other electrical devices are switched off before beginning.

Apply 12 volt power to the vehicle either through the data link connector under the dash or by jumpering wires to a battery powered circuit at the fusebox or other connector.

Always verify that all electrical devices and systems operate properly before releasing the car to the customer.

Sounds like they failed on all three.

If I remember correctly, the radio is part of the vehicle communications system. It uses the speakers for door ajar/key warning chimes and has input from the engine computer to control volume based on speed, etc. Frankly my first step would be to access the body control module and check for fault codes and data stream there.

I tried Tester’s method of leaving it in Run position for 10 minutes. No go.

I also disconnected the battery for several hours. Radio still doesn’t work.

Any other ideas before I have to take it in to a professional or yell at Sam’s Club for causing the malfunction?

Don’t get mad at Sam’s Club.

The people there aren’t aware of the problems that can occur whenever a battery is disconnected.


I had to disconnect the battery on my 2011 Toyota Sienna because the terminals showed a lot of corrosion. I purchased the device that plugs into the 12 volt socket and then disconnected the terminals. The first time, I remembered to turn the key to the accessory position so that the 12 volt socket would be connected to the electrical system of the car. The only problem that occurred was that the clock had lost time and had to be reset. The second time I had to clean the terminals, I did the same procedure, but I forgot to turn the key to the accessory position, so no current was fed to the electrical system. However, no harm was done. The radio retained its settings and the car started and ran as it should. However, the clock reset to 12:00. Realizing that I was probably very fortunate, when the terminals corroded for the third time due to battery outgassing, I had my independent shop that keeps up to date on these things install a new battery.
On the Toyota, there must be some type of memory that retains the settings. If this is the case, it would seem that other manufacturers could do this.
Disconnecting the battery and having problems isn’t anything new. The owner’s manual on my 1954 Buick had instructions for reconnecting the battery. The problem was the clock which was spring driven, but was wound up electrically every five minutes or so. If the clock ran down while the battery was disconnected, when the battery was reconnected, the positive terminal was connected first. The negative clamp was then just touched to the negative post of the battery. The clamp was then touched to the negative post again. If there was no spark at this point, the clamp was connected. If there was a spark, one waited until the clock ran down and repeated this procedure. This was to insure that the clock was fully wound up.

"Don’t get mad at Sam’s Club.

The people there aren’t aware of the problems that can occur whenever a battery is disconnected."

All the more reason to get mad at them. Do you take work into your shop that you’re not properly tooled or trained for? Do you take responsibility when you break a customer’s car?

Now I’m not necessarily saying that Sam’s club is at fault. There could have been a preexisting condition or previous malfunction of the car that we know nothing about. Until the problem is resolved they deserve the benefit of the doubt. But it sounds like Sam’s Club doesn’t use industry standards and best practices to ensure a successful outcome.

What do they do when replacing a battery in a Mercedes or BMW that requires vehicle programming to accept a new battery?

In a Honda you have to reenter a security code to get the radio working again-Kevin

The people there aren’t aware of the problems that can occur whenever a battery is disconnected." All the more reason to get mad at them.

@asemaster–I agree. My independent tire shop had to reprogram the computer when they installed new tires on my 2011 Toyota Sienna and knew the procedure. It seems to me that if a business does battery replacement, the employees should know how it is done. Where have they been? Many electronic devices need to be “reprogrammed” when a new battery is installed. My wife bought a $10 “atomic” clock at WalMart. It picks up the signal from a tower out in Colorado and adjusts itself to keep time. When the battery needed to be replaced, she couldn’t find the instructions. I took it as a challenge to install the new AA battery make the clock function properly–I think I spent an hour trying different things. We have an indoor-outdoor thermometer–again a $10 item I bought my wife as a stocking stuffer for Christmas at Rural King. There is an outdoor sensor that sends a signal to the indoor unit which we put beside our bed. We can wake up in the morning and know what the temperature is outdoors. My wife just told me that the unit no longer displays the outside temperature, so I know I am going to have to go through the procedure to “pair” the outside sensor with the indoor unit when I replace the AA battery. I guess modern electronics are great, but I still prefer my spring driven pendulum clock that I wind once a week and I see nothing wrong with mounting a thermometer on a bracket outside the window to read the outdoor temperature. I would like to go back to a car radio that doesn’t have to go through a reprogramming when the battery is changed.

From tne owners manual

Theft-Deterrent Feature
is designed to discourage theft of your
vehicle’s radio. It works by using a secret code to
disable all radio functions when battery power is
removed and the radio is placed in a different vehicle.
This feature requires no user input to be activated.
The radio is automatically armed when it is put into
the vehicle for the first time.
If THEFTLOCK is activated, the radio does not operate
if stolen. The radio displays LOCKED. If this occurs,
the radio needs to be returned to your dealer/retailer.

As I had said in my original post, it does not display “LOCKED.” I had also researched this item and have come to the conclusion that this is likely not the root of the issue as it does not exhibit this symptom.

I’ll continue to do some research. I doubt I’ll be able to make Sam’s be responsible for this very easily, so my back stop is to take it in to a real mechanic or a car electronics specialist.

What voltages does the radio require? Some only require +12 V. Other’s require a second voltage, often 5 volts. If you haven’t done this already, and have a schematic, you could probe the connector the radio plugs into w/a DVM to see if all the required voltages are present.

If all else fails, aftermarket car radios are not that expensive and often include a very useful USB/MP3 player function the OEM radio doesn’t. You just plug a USB memory stick into the slot and the radio plays whatever audio MP3 files it finds that’s your previously downloaded. This might be a more profitable way to spend your time than battling the battery installer.

I’m surprised nobody has mentioned taking the car to the dealer

Perhaps they could hook up their factory scan tool and get the radio going again, for a modest fee

I know the radio is not technically “locked” . . . but it may still be waiting for a code

I took it into the dealer yesterday. After a full check-up, they determined that the radio has suffered an internal failure and would need to be replaced outright. Obviously, I’m not going to pay $800 for a new stock radio. So, I think I may get a second opinion to verify this claim, but I’m almost certain the dealership is correct. Sam’s Club will likely not replace my radio either. I can live without it for some time, it is just a radio. At some point, I think I’ll shop around and get a model to replace it.

Thanks for all the comments.