Radio malfunction

Tiny
FORD EXPLORER1999
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 FORD EXPLORER
  • V6
  • RWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 180,000 MILES
The radio of my vehicle displays stations and CD's but does not play any sound. It is definitely getting power. I have checked all fuses just to make sure, but I am fairly confident in assuming that it is a physical connection issue. Previously, the radio would work again when I pushed on the head unit or hit a bump in the road. Any suggestions?
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Sunday, November 6th, 2016 AT 9:28 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Which radio model do you have? If it is a CD / cassette combo radio, there were two suppliers, and each had their own common problems. One has a "clock" button, and one does not. Unfortunately, Ford saw fit to follow GM's lead and not allow us to buy radio service manuals after the 1997 model year. They want all that lucrative repair business for themselves. I have been able to repair the intermittent display issue on one model. The other version is known for intermittent audio, but I don't know the solution for that. I've only run into that two or three times.

There are two possible solutions. One is to send the radio to one of Ford's authorized repair centers, and you would do that through the dealership's parts department. The other is to get another radio from a salvage yard. With that you run the risk of getting one with that intermittent display problem. With Chrysler's lower-class radios built by Alpine, there are one or three places to look for intermittent display problems. With Ford radios, there are over 80 places to look. They can be extremely frustrating to solve. The repair centers just replace three circuit boards, but then you will have the same problem in a few years. When I repair these for dealers, I keep the radio for two weeks; the second week to run it on the test bench. Nine out of ten times the problem shows up again after a week, and I have to start all over. Did I mention these are very frustrating?

There are also cassette-only and CD-only radios but those are much less common. I have only worked on one cassette player many years ago. I have over a hundred parts radios, but not a single CD-radio in the bunch. If you have a CD-radio, you might consider looking for the CD / cassette combo for a replacement. Look for one that lists "Explorer Equalization" on the side. GM has dozens of identical-looking radio models every year, but each one is different for the tone response for the shape of the vehicle. It's almost impossible to find the right radio if you're picky about sound quality. Chrysler has just a few radio models. They do their tone conditioning with remote amplifiers or with little amplifiers bolted to some of the speakers. Ford does it the same as GM with the differences built into the radios.

Even if you get a radio for a different car model, it will fit in your dash opening and no programming should be required. What you might have to consider though is the plugs on the rear. There is one in the lower corner that is used for all applications, but if you have a remote amplifier, there will be a second plug next to the first one. Most of the radios have four sockets in the back. If you have a factory remote CD changer, that is what the last two jacks are for.

I must clarify my comment about fitting in your dash. Ford used four different mounting styles. By far the most common uses two small hoes on each side of the face plate. You need special tools to remove the radio. The people at any salvage yard will have them. Some models, Mustangs, for example, are bolted in, but their mounting brackets are different than on the other bolted-in radios. The people at the salvage yard will be able to match what you need.
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Sunday, November 6th, 2016 AT 5:41 PM

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