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No radio in the Intrepid

My daughter has a 1999 Dodge Intrepid. Recently the interior lights have flickered and today the radio stopped working. Other than that, the car seems to be running fine. Can you suggest what might be going on?

  1. lightbulb?
  2. old age? Time for a new radio?

Thirteen years would be a perfectly reasonable lifespan for both of these items. Try the basics first.

Could this be an indication that the electrical system is bad? I’ve read some reviews where the interior lights flickers and their car ended up by cutting out while driving. Could it be as simple as a fuse? Just a nervous mother!

It could be an electrical problem, but considering that they’re both at a normal age for wearing out and they failed at differnt times, different days, I’d say the greatest likelihood is that they’re both just tired.

And yup, it could easily be a fuse. Especially the radio. The owner’s manual should show you where the fuses are.

Thank you so much. I’ll check is out and hope that it’s a fuse!

It could be as simple as the fuse leads have oxidized a bit. When you find the fuse, pull it out and clean the connections (the two metal tabs on the fuse) with some fine grit sandpaper. Like 240 grit, something like that. If you don’t have any sandpaper, use a pencil erasor, that usually works. By interior lights, do you mean the dome light? Or do you mean the dashboards lights? If it is just the dome light, that could be a door jam switch going bad or just wiggling due to a bump in the road. And it’s certainly withing the relm of possibilities that the radio has simply conked out due to old age, as others have said. But it shouldn’t take long to clean the fuse connections in any event. Best of luck.

Thank you! I will try that. I appreciate the detail you provided. Her dashboard lights flickered on and off. I thought maybe it was a bad dimmer switch so I had her adjust the light down and they have been ok. But today when the radio went out I started to suspect the worst. Being in college she doesn’t have much money, but I don’t want her driving in an unsafe car. From what you described, it doesn’t sound like this will turn out to be a safety issue. I certainly will check the fuse in the morning.

Yeah, it is a common symptom of a dashboard light dimmer on the fritz that the dashboard lights flicker. That’s a very probable cause for that. The dimmer – if you could see the insides – it is like a tiny needle that moves, bumping its way across a tiny coil of wire. Think of pulling the point of a knitting needle along a garage door spring. That’s what it would look like if you could see it, only smaller. What happens that make it go on the fritz is the surfaces of the needle point and spring become oxidized and fail to make contact at certain points along the coil. Often you can just wipe the oxidization off yourself by turning the dimmer switch to full on then full off a few times, which rapidly moves the needle up and down the coil and brushes the oxidation off. Usually this home brew cleaning doesn’t last forever, but when the flickering starts again just do it again. No harm in trying.

Okay, how about some more information:

You say the radio doesn’t work—does the display light up? Do you get any sound out of it? Does the CD player work but not the radio? Can you describe the problem better?

The interior lights flickered… Was that the dome light and/or other lights that light up when you open the door? Or was it the dash illumination for the speedometer, etc? Was the car running at the time?

Without a better description, it’s hard to tell anything… I’d consider thoroughly cleaning the battery terminals first.