What's up with radio static in hybrids?

I never expected THIS issue! My 2010 Honda Insight has LOUSY radio reception. Both the dealership and Honda customer service are acting surprised but I’m finding posts out on the web on this topic making me think I should have been informed by dealer before purchasing. How can reception be fixed and who’s responsible? Dealer? Honda?

But Hondas are perfect and never have problems of any kind…ever. eye roll

Sounds like a warranty issue. I’m going to guess that the AM reception is particularly bad. Take the car in, and see what they can do about it. There may be some sort of filter they can install to reduce the interference.

Poor Radio Reception Is A Small Price To Pay. You’re Saving Our Planet. Thank You!

I wouldn’t make any waves. This is just a minor inconvenience. There will be many more, some much worse, as we tackle Global Warming head-on!

Thank You,

I’d stick with the web on this one. Apparently you’ve talked to Honda and they are either helpless or clueless or both. If it occurs with many or all Insights, sooner or later, someone out there will work out exactly what is wrong and possibly a solution – which may turn out to be something simple.

You could also try a couple of other Honda dealers. Maybe you’ll hit a service department that will own up to the problem and knows some answers.

Does the static occur only when the hybrid’s electric motor kicks in? Electronic motor speed controllers are notorious for generating radio interference, especially if you are listening to the AM band.

Or maybe this model just comes with a crumby radio.

Not exactly related to 2010 but I worked for a company that provided warranty audio system support for Big 3 brands in the 1990’s. Radio concerns were the number 2 reason warranty claims were generated. People wanted that audio system to work right and they were not happy when it didn’t.

I concour with Fo Daddy this must be a AM concern,poor selectivity/sensitivity concerns were almost always on the AM band.

Can’t see why the vehicle being a hybrid would matter one way or the other,someone throw out some ideas.

I would definitely go back to the shop and have it looked at or replaced. I would imagine you’re warranty and it would only cost you some time. I’ve found Honda did care about customer happiness so they should resolve the issue.

B.L.E. has a possible answer. The Semiconductor devices used to control electricity flow in hybrid cars very likely have very sharp cut offs and turn ons that generate harmonics well up into the AM radio range. If you put an AM radio near an electronic light dimmer or some fluorescent bulbs you’ll hear a lot of noise on the AM bands.

That said, the old classic mechanical distributor/coil ignition system generated a lot of electrical noise also, but the engineers managed to subdue it. Car radios worked fine on weak AM signals even back to vacuum tube days. It would surprise me a bit if the engineers couldn’t/didn’t tame the noise from electronics in hybrids.

It’s under warranty. It’s not your problem to figure it out, it is up to the dealer.



Or maybe this model just comes with a crumby radio.

I too agree with BLE
Different electronic gear has varying degree of susceptibility to this problem. Bidding out radios to electronic suppliers does not make car service departments experts at integrating the systems. If they can’t resolve the problem, some of the best minds may be at an after market car audio install business…and ask the dealer to pay the bill.

But Hondas are perfect and never have problems of any kind…ever. eye roll

Right on, we know ALL cars are designed “fail”; Honda just tries to stay a step or two ahead to use it as a selling point. It’s all about merchandising, and Hondas have problems like radios,as do others…just fewer of them at a time.

Some afterthoughts. There are at least four causes of poor radio reception in cars:

  1. Lousy engineering

  2. Antenna not connected.

  3. A bad ground connection at some noise surpression device.

  4. A few radios have a trimmer screw that has to be adjusted to get maximum signal transfer from the antenna to the radio. I wouldn’t expect a trimmer screw – especially an unadjusted screw – on a manufacturer provided radio. But who knows?

Quit generalizing --hybrids –

NOT ! … ( same as saying your BLUE car has a radio problem, therefor "What’s up with radio static in BLUE cars? )

YOUR car radio has a problem.

At my dealer, no Ford Escape HYBRID has ever reported radio reception issues.

Check the entire path of the antenna wire and every connection paying particular attention to the little brackets and screws that attatch to body panels along it’s path. Also every pass-through ie; through holes & between panels. . In F150s I have seen a few mis-guided mounting screws that pierced the shielding of the antenna and caused a ground-out. Very hard to find the first time through the system.

Test drive some other Insights at your dealer to see if it’s a common problem.

The only reason traction motor generated RFI came to my mind is because I work in a shop that has a certain piece of equipment that uses a 3-phase induction motor driven by a variable frequency inverter, which gives the motor adjustable speed.
When that motor is running, trying to listen to an AM radio station on my Walkman is a lost cause. All you hear is a siren like wail that changes pitch with the motor’s speed.
I’m sure that hybrid makers go through great efforts the shield that RFI or radios would act up if you drove next to a hybrid. However, if you are trying to tune in to a distant radio signal, it doesn’t take much RFI to screw up the reception.

I’ve found radio reception in newer cars in general to be very hit or miss. It really does take a certain amount of engineering to make them have decent reception and I think that regular old radio reception is no longer a big priority in these days of iPods and satellite radios.

Just out of curiousity, though, other than this how do you like the car? Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson seems to think it’s the worst car ever made, which I find a little hard to believe: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/driving/jeremy_clarkson/article6294116.ece

Thank you for responding Fodaddy – I hope you’re right; I do want the dealership to acknowledge and address the issue. I’ll know by this time Monday. I did get a “case number” from Honda as well and will follow through.

Thank you vtcodger2 – I’m in NH and if I’m going to climb through the notch to enjoy Willoughby Lake this season, I have a long ride ahead and I want my NPR. Yes, I called Honda and I won’t generalize about the whole company, but certainly the “customer service rep” wasn’t informed. Or perhaps she WAS informed to ACT clueless. I’m with you: this has to be a simple solution – of shielding the wires or switching to the Sirius or something.
Helen in NH

Thank you B.L.E. – I have it on ECON all the time, so the electric assist is pretty much always on.

THANK you for this J.E. M. – I like having quick access to these resources for the conversations coming up this week.

Thank you CSA but I don’t think we should expect LESS of our engineers and designers as we all stive for a healthier planet – I don’t think a working radio is a luxury.