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New car stereo - bad radio reception

I just installed a new car stereo. I found that the antenna connector (to the stereo) was broken and just had that replaced. I can only pick up a few stations and the stations that I know I should pick up (because I could with my old stereo), are all static.

Temporarily plug in an antenna. You can pick one up for under $10 at WalMart. If the reception is fine with this antenna–be sure you stick it out the door–the problem is in your automobile antenna or its lead-in. If the reception is the same there are two possibilities:

  1. there is something wrong with the tuner section of the new stereo and you need to take it back.

  2. the radio had a local/distance switch and you have it set for only local reception. Read the manual that came with the stereo to see if it has this switch. (In fact, try this before purchasing another antenna).

The manual does not show any kind of switch from local to distance. The new stereo is a Dual XD1222. I noticed that when I seek the AM frequencies, it does not pick up any station. I will try the new antenna and see if that would work. Thanks for the suggestions and I’ll keep you posted.

Is this a high end stereo or a bargain brand? Sometimes cheap models have cheap tuners.

I just found the answer to my question. This is an off-brand $60 unit. I think you got what you paid for.

Cheap radio or not, your symptoms could be explained by not having an antenna connected. (Or the radio could be defective.)

To check it out, do what Tiedaq said: use a temporary antenna. Except no need to spend even $10. Just connect several feet of wire to the center of the antenna jack (maybe push in – gently – a small nail to make contact). Make sure the ground of the antenna jack is connected to the chassis somewhere. Trail the wire out the window, and see if you hear anything.

I’m new to all this electronic stuff. What kind of wire?

There are 3 things that could be wrong.

1: The external antenna is not making a connection with the radio. This could be due to improper installation of the female Motorola connector.

2: The radio’s sensitive “front end” (first stage RF amplifier circuit) is shot, possibly due to electrostatic discharge during the repair of the female Motorola connector.

3: The center conductor of the coaxial cable has been shorted by the shielding, due to improper installation of the female Motorola connector.

The trouble is pretty much certainly in the radio and fixing any of these things is beyond the scope of your abilities. Get a new radio.

-Extra class HAM

I’ve done a lot of reading and many reads suggested that aftermarket stereos usually need an antenna extension/adapter. What do you all think?

Replying to your two questions.

  1. “What kind of wire?” Completely non-critical. Any kind you can get that is easy to work with. Most of us think of copper wire, but even aluminum wire or iron or steel fence wire will work for this. (Remember when people would use a straightened-out metal coat hanger to replace a broken external antenna?)

  2. “What do you think [about needing antenna extension/adapter]?” If they mean essentially a wire extension (making the antenna longer), maybe. If they mean some kind of “booster”, 99% chance it’s a scam. Unless you are very far from the stations you are trying to receive, the antenna that worked with the old radio should be adequate. So check out that antenna, as above.

While it’s true that most stock radios get better reception than aftermarket radios, I doubt adding more aftermarket accessories will fix your problem. I would look into upgrading the radio itself.

Do you live in a major metropolitan area, or do you love in the boondocks? If you live in the boonies, you might never find an aftermarket radio that gets reception as good as an OEM radio.

How about an iPod? Many of the shows on AM radio are available as podcasts.

GOT IT!!! I used a coat hanger and got great reception. Took apart the new antenna connector that was installed and discovered that the wire was bent inside, not all the way through to the tip of the connector. Extended the length of the wire and fed it through carefully, put it back together and it works. Stations are coming through pretty good. Some not as good as before, though. Thanks to all your suggestions, especially art1966.

That would fall under cause #1 from improper installation of the Motorola connector.

But I was wrong when assumed it was beyond the scope of your abilities. It’s very hard to tell how mechanically savvy people from a paragraph.