Melting Radio Face

I have had my Subaru Outback Sport since 2004, when I bought it new. A few years into this, I noticed that the cd player would become extremely hot while playing, making the CDs skip constantly. Then, the buttons began melting and fell off one by one. I have no buttons and can’t control the radio. Now, the entire face is starting to melt-- the shiny coating on it is peeling off. It is so bizarre! Finally, as I joke this Christmas, I put in Christina Aguilera’s XMAS, and it is now permanently stuck inside. It wont come out! You have no idea how horrible this is. I have come to terms with the fact that the cd player is not salvageable, however, I would still like to know how this might have happened! Has anyone else’s radio melted before>

Do I really need to tell you to get that radio out of there before it catches fire? Really?

Any electrical device that gets that hot is risking an electrical fire. You’ve been lucky so far. Don’t push it any further.

If the radio chassis had a fan that is now not working, it could explain it’s overheating when it didn’t used to.
But the die is cast. It’s malfunctioning big time and you MUST unplug, un-fuse, and never use that one again. Take it out or get someone to. As B.K. eluded to, it’s a fire waiting to happen .

Ken: Thank you for your thorough response. I’m an artist. I know nothing about electronics, obviously. My car, fortunately, is in the shop right now for a tire rotation-- I told the mechanic about the radio and he pulled the fuse for me until I can save up enough cash to replace it. Again, many thanks.

Thank you for your help, to begin with. For whatever reason, it did not occur to me that this was a fire hazard. I might offer you some constructive criticism as well. It is completely possible, as Ken Green has shown, to offer advice without being condescending and mean. Obviously I don’t know about cars or electronics; that’s why I came to this website.

I wasn’t being condescending, but trying to focus on the consequences. Electrical items are not supposed to get hot enough to melt the plastic that surrounds them. This advise goes for ANY electrical device in your home, office, and car. You’ve been driving around for a couple of YEARS with this problem, and just now thought to ask about it. I’m just pointing out the obvious that you’ve been really lucky not to have had a fire yet.

Surely you could have asked the local mechanic that changes your oil about it, even in casual conversation. He probably would have told you the same thing.

Well, as I said, I didn’t think it was a huge problem until your response so I never thought to mention it to a mechanic. I’m super short on cash and don’t have the money to replace it. I obviously could have done this or that, but there are no consequences because I caught it in time. I took it in and had it de-fused today. I’ll just have to drive around without a dome light or a clock for awhile. Like I said, thanks for the help. Everything’s 20/20 in hindsight.

That said, let’s get real. You were being condescending, down to the use of ITALICS to emphasize the tone you wanted to evoke. Clearly you think I’m an idiot. But whatever the case, thanks to you and Ken Green, my dashboard is not going to catch on fire, and I am happy about that, even though I have to leave Monday on a 2,000 mile road trip with no music or NPR to sustain me.

I don’t agree that BustedKnuckles was being condescending.

He offered valid advice and he expressed what was probably his amazement that it did not occur to you that a grossly overheated electrical device could result in a fire. Truthfully, I am also amazed that this possibility did not occur to you.

I think that you should merely have accepted the good advice without being overly sensitive about how the advice was expressed.

You can get a replacement radio for $100 and up from, among other places. One that will far outshine the original radio that came with the car. Or you might try ebay or an auto recycler (junkyard) if you want an exact match for what you had.

A better solution than pulling a fuse might be to just disconnect the electrical connector from the back of the stereo if you can get at it.

Sasquach…You are WAY, WAY oversensitive about this whole issue.
IMHO, one cannot go through this complex modern world claiming they are “an artist/dentist/philatelist/chef, etc, etc” and have no clue about some of the most basic things, and then take umbrage when someone barely hints to their ignorance.
In the end, this was free advice…As is the case in life, in general it is best to be prepared to take it as it comes.
Best of luck.

There are likely to be TWO fuses. Make sure both are pulled.

I would try to get an original type CD/radio from a junkyard or online auction etc. Much less likely to be stolen.

Electrical items are not supposed to get hot enough to melt the plastic that surrounds them.

I just want to mention when I was a teenager working in a TV repair shop I saw many cheap (mostly GE IIRC) portable B&W TV’s with vacuum tubes and plastic cases that eventually melted near the big, hot horizontal output tube.

I’ve bought these from ebay before… Pick someone that has a lot of positive feedback. There are a lot of auto recyclers that do business on ebay. If in doubt, ask the person to send you a photo of the data plate, showing the serial number of the radio. If they won’t do this, move on.

The problem with pulling both fuses is the lighter, dome light, and possibly many other things are on the second fuse as well. Disconnecting the radio’s electrical connector may be a little more work, but is a better solution.

While working factory radio in the 90’s we had plenty of people complain about their CD’s getting hot. It is the nature of a CD player to run hot. This has been mitigated a bit by installing fans in the units. These units can run hot enough by design (be it poor design) to show some melting and not offer any fire hazard what so ever.

Hot enough to melt the buttons off?

No, you have me there, it was hot enough that people complained that their CD’s would be damaged. I do think an over amp condition would cause the fuse to open before any fire

Quick thought before you go on your “trip”. Check all fluids, oil, etc, and probably tires and see if the spare is there. Good luck.

A few thoughts occur to me. The first is that since no fuse blew, the problem was more than likely internal to the unit.

I’d be inclined to replace the fuse just to be safe, and replace the unit with an aftermarket unit. When doing so, pick up an adapter plug with the new unit. The plugs come for all different makes and models of vehicle. That will attach to your new unit on the kitchen table via easy-to-follow instructions and plug right into your original wiring harness. It prevents all sorts of wiring problems and makes the job go 1000 times easier.

If you have the unit replaced, be sure to tell them that you do NOT want the harness butchered, you want an adapter plug used. I highly recommend it.