1999 Ford F-250 stereo system

Tiny
PAT ROLLINS
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 FORD F-250
  • 5.4L
  • V8
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 184,000 MILES
I just bought the truck and it does not have the factory stereo. I want to try and find one but am not sure what makes/models/years to look at the used parts stores or wreckers for. It does have the 6 disc cd stacker under the front seat can you tell me what to look for and if possible a pitcher of what it looks like, Thank you very much, Pat
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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 AT 3:18 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The salvage yards will have that information. In particular, there were four different factory mounting styles. The most common one on trucks used four tiny holes in the faceplate, two on each side, about an inch apart. You need special tools to remove those radios. Auto parts stores sell them for about 8 bucks a pair.

You should see a black plug in the dash, with a red insert. It's about an inch long by 3/4" wide, and has two rows of pins. That is the only plug you need to run the radio. It has speaker, power, and lighting wires in it. That plug goes in the lower corner of the radio. One of the other sockets is for the factory CD changer. If your changer is an aftermarket unit, it may have its own separate wiring, and it just plugs into the radio antenna cable.

I've repaired a lot of the Ford cd / cassette combo radios. They are not a bad radio, but there's two versions of them. The one I always run into develops intermittent display, and they can be real frustrating to repair. I have the replacement boards that the authorized repair centers install, but those are built the same way as the originals and will develop the same problem in a few years. The permanent way to fix them is to find the bad connections and resolder them. There's a few Chrysler radios that do this too, and there's either one or three places to look. On the Fords, there's at least 80 places that can cause the problem. When dealers send me a radio for this problem, I tell them I'm keeping it for two weeks. Very often after test-running them, the problem reappears more than a week later, and I have to start all over. THAT'S why they're so frustrating.

You definitely do not want the in-dash 6-disc CD changer. That was a major disaster. All of Chrysler's 6-disc in-dash and add-on changers go to a lock mode automatically when power is removed to keep everything in time. The Chrysler four-disc, and the Ford 6-disc do not. The Ford unit will not survive shipping without a special, very complicated bracket installed to hold everything in position. It is probably the number one item on eBay that the seller is convinced he sold a properly-working radio and the buy got a non-working one. Even the replacement changer mechanisms have a large sticker on them that says "scrap if dropped". There's quality for you! I would guess the Chrysler 4-disc units only survive shipping about half of the time. There's a second version of the Ford cd / cassette combo that doesn't have the intermittent display problem, but they do have volume problems. The first version has a serial number that looks like it was put on the sticker with a typewriter. The letters are about 1/8" high and the sticker feels like regular paper. On the second version, the serial number is much longer, the letters are about 1/16" high, and they're printed on the bottom of a long shiny label.

I've only worked on a couple of Ford cassette radios, again for intermittent display, but those were not real frustrating. Haven't worked on any cd-only radios. Either they weren't real popular or they don't break down. Knowing how they're designed and built, I suspect they weren't real popular.

Be aware too, that to keep all the lucrative repair business for themselves, GM stopped allowing us to buy radio service manuals after the '94 model year, and Ford did that after the '97 models. You'll be tied to the dealer and the two grossly-over-priced repair centers. There are other repair shops now but, like me, they have to figure out the problems without having a service manual to look at.
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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 AT 4:00 PM
Tiny
PAT ROLLINS
  • MEMBER
Thank you so much for the info and heads up, I wish I knew what it looked like, we only have one wrecker out here and they are no help and give no info all I have to go on is I have the 6 disc stacker under the seat but not the unit in the dash and I have no idea what it looks like to go hunt one down or go online and try to find a used or refurbished one
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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 AT 4:43 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You can find the right style on eBay. There are a lot of people who only sell radios from smashed cars and trucks, and most of them do a real good job of listing which vehicles they fit. I compiled some lists too that I use at the nation's second largest old car show swap meet where I fix and sell radios, but it mainly works for Chrysler products. The problem with Fords and GMs is there can be dozens of different model numbers for one year that all look the same. They all interchange too so if you're looking for one specific model number, you may never find it, while you bypass a dozen other numbers that WILL work.

The factory radios are designed with the shape of the body and interior options in mind. On anything other than the base systems, Chrysler adds an amp to modify the tone response for the specific vehicle. That's why so many different radios will interchange and sound fine. GM does that by changing a few parts in the radio's output circuitry, then they give it a completely new model number. Ford does the same thing but instead of whole new model number, they change the suffix from "-AA" to "-AB" or "-AC", or they change one or two letters in the middle of the model number. The suffix can also mean there was a small design change during the production run. Also, they print right on the label which vehicle the radio was designed for. I can't tell any difference on my test bench, but I'm only listening to one radio at a time. I don't have two or three side-by-side to compare.

As another note, all Chrysler radios put out speaker level output. Every radio can be used with or without an amplifier. The amps don't change power or volume. They only modify the tone response. When a Ford or GM radio is used with a factory amp, it must be used with an amp or you won't be able to hear the sound. If one of their radios didn't use an amp, it can't be used with one because the sound would be very distorted.

You might want to check out this item on eBay: 380776620263

I bought a lot of radios years ago from "discountoemradios". I just typed in a search for "'99 Ford radio" and looked at the first few. When you see a model number listed, as in "YU3F-18C868-AA", the "18C868" is the standard designation for the CD / cassette combo radios for all years and models. The model year the radio came from is designated by one of the first four numbers or letters but I can never remember which one.

One further note; I always run into a problem at the car show with helping people find the right mounting style for Ford pickup trucks. Most of the time they don't know what they have unless they run back to their truck and look. Around '98 or '99 the F-150 used this common style with the four holes in the faceplate, but the F-250 and 350 used something much different. When you don't have the original radio to look at, you'll have to rely on the lists the eBay sellers provide, or you can ask them. In the case of "discountoemradios" or "MrCD1", they've been around a long time and will know the answer.
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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 AT 6:36 PM

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