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Tape Deck making loud humming/buzzing noise

My 2002 outback tape deck, which I use primarily to listen to my phone via a cassette adaptor, has recently started making a very loud buzzing/humming noise. It does this with both my old and a new adaptor, as well as a standard audio tape.

I could try using a head cleaner on the tape deck, but my impression is that this isn’t what typically would happen if the head needs cleaning, and I don’t particular want to waste the time and money on a solution that I’m pretty sure isn’t going to work, but I’m asking you all in case you know better than me (a real possibility). I just don’t know if I should try that first, or if I should just go out and purchase a new car stereo that has either blue tooth, or an audio input plug so I can directly plug the phone in that way.

Any advice would be helpful, also if I do go the way of replacing the stereo, is that generally a straightforward process? And would most replacement stereos be compatible with my vehicle, or do I need to be selective? Thanks.

Here’s my standard advice - go to and find a replacement. We did that for our '07 Forester, they also sell the correct adapter cable and provide complete installation instructions. It took a bit of work, but nothing unusual.

I agree. The tape drive mechanism is failing or has failed. It’s 12 years old, so that is not unexpected. Many new radios have auxiliary plugs to eliminate the tape adapter. I just installed a new radio that has Bluetooth phone and audio, so I can listen to music from my phone without wires!

Here’s another vote for Crutchfield. They have a very good reputation for making this as easy as possible.

And if you don’t need the tape deck for tapes, then, as BK said, skip it, just go with one with the appropriate inputs.

Count this as another vote for Crutchfield. I gave up tape decks so many years ago that I didn’t realize that there were any around that did work.

Thanks for the advices. I’ll give Crutchfield a look. I’m not particular attached to the tape deck, just the money I’d have to spend to replace it, but what can you expect after 12 years.

Crutchfield FTW!