CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Mysterious Radio

I had a very interesting thing happen today with my subaru. I took it into the dealership for a recall on the fuel line (SUBARU RECALL NO. WVK-21). They finished th work and on my 2-1/2 hour ride home I noticed the radio was not functioning properly. It was stuck on and no buttons were working and I couldn’t turn it off. I then turned off the ignition and it still remained on. Then, thinking I was being clever I pulled the fuse for the radio – STILL it was on! As a last resort, I pulled the cable from the battery terminal and finally it shut off. I’m glad it did or else I would have had to call for an exorcism. When i reconnected the terminal cable, it began working normally again.



So, how could the radio be working with the ignition off and fuse pulled? Furthermore, should the dealer be blamed for this strange behavior from my radio?



Thanks for any help with this.

Not knowing your car I can only guess. A stuck relay could act that way.

You probably had a ‘crash’ in a sub-processor of the radio, and the battery disconnect reset it. Also, you need to pull two fuses to cut all power to the radio.

Radios have 2 12v sources going to them, one constant 12V that is not affected by the ignition switch, and a switched 12V source that gets power with the ignition switch ‘accessory’ selection on. Today’s radios use the constant 12V source for most of their power, and the switch signal to know when to turn on and off. They are also not just electronic devices, but mini-computers. Crashes like that can happen.

Chances are you’ll not get anything out of the dealer if the radio is working alright now.

I think that BustedKnuckles is correct. The problem probably isn’t the car or the dealer. It’s probably a weirdly designed radio. The dealer may or may not know about problems with the radio and may or may not have theories (which may or may not be right) about its modes of misbehavior. You can call and ask. If they want to do something to “fix” the problem, I’d do a lot of research before I let them near the car. I suspect that their chances of breaking something might be greater than their chances of fixing it.

Wow, great responses and very quick! Thanks for educating me and the suggestions. I probably won’t bother with the dealer since the radio appears to be working now.