Crossed Poles on Jump Start, Radio Problems

I’ll admit off the bat that I did something terrible. My wife’s battery died last night, and in an attempt to jump start it, I crossed poles. The casing on the cables started melting, there was smoke. I quickly disconnected the cables when I realized what was happening. We have since had the battery replaced in the car.

This is a 2010 Chevrolet Equinox.

What remains is what’s seen in the attached image: a series of columns of dashes scrolling through the screen. Looks like The Matrix! Additionally, the speakers make a popping sound every 5-10 seconds. I removed the fuse for the radio and replaced it with another, same result. Removing the fuse does stop the popping sound in the speakers though, which seems obvious. Incidentally, this behavior persists after the ignition is turned off, it’s just that the display is not back-lit.

Obviously, I’ve messed something up. Is it possible that simply replacing the control panel that contains the display along with all the controls for the hvac system would suffice? Or have I ruined something else?


Have you checked all fuses? I think you blew the head. Maybe a salvage yard has one. Also, does this car have a speaker amp?

There is an amp fuse. I checked it, and it seemed in good order. I can go through all the fuses, no problem. I didn’t think it’d be a fuse since the radio is getting power.

When you say “the head”, you’re referring to the whole control panel? I was looking for one of those on ebay and it looks like I can snatch one for 75 bucks. But I wanted to make sure before I bought it.

The door dingers etc also go through the speakers I believe, check all the body control fuses. Is there anything you notice in addition to the radio not working?

It looks like the head because of the display. I only ask about the fuses because reversing polarity usually blows fuses.

Apparently the clicking sound the turn signal makes when activated comes through the speakers because that sound doesn’t happen any longer.

I think my first step is to check all fuses, then consider replacing the control panel if all fuses seem in tact.

I suggest totally disconnecting the radio from the car’s harnesses and enjoying the quiet while driving for a few days to see if any other symptoms occur. If not replace the radio/control panel.

I would consider paying the dealer the diagnostic fee (usually &100.00 or less ) to see what damage is done. Many will drop the fee if you have them do the repair. It may be costly but you have a 2010 that can give you a lot more service. It is too late now but consider AAA or some roadside service.

Do the turn signals still work even though you don’t hear the sound of them working? If not I suspect you have a blown fuse causing that problem which may be effecting the radio also.

The radio is your only problem?
My suggestion: Go buy a lottery ticket.


Jump starting with reversed polarity can result in a great deal of damage and often there is damage that doesn’t show up until after repairing all the immediately recognized problems and driving a few days or even weeks. There might be quite a few sections of charred insulation on wires well buried in harnesses in difficult to reach locations and a few jolts on a wash board road might bring on some smoke and once you let the smoke out of a wire or component it will never be the same.

Before doing anything drastic, I’d see if there was a simple way to disconnect the radio from its power source. Then I’d get an auto electric tech to check all the fuses and fusible links, cross referencing to the car’s wiring diagram.

Once that was all determined to be in order – then I’d plug the radio back in and see if those lines re-appear. If they do, either just live w/them, or purchase a replacement radio (or car).