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Bad radio reception is a common problem experienced by most car owners and it’s annoying. When you are trying to tune your car radio, suddenly the signal is interfered with or dropped; it might be due to something that’s beyond your understanding.
Well, based on whether you are tuning the radio to your favorite station, maybe you want to listen to some music via the FM band, or talk show via the AM band, anything like tall buildings and solar flares may adversely ruin your listening experience.
The best solution to such an issue is by playing safe with the weather, but if it persists, probably you are dealing with device malfunction.
5 Steps to Improve Your Car Radio Reception
1. Ensure the antenna mast of your car is elongated
There are different ways that your manual antenna mast may be pushed in, mostly when car wash personnel forgot to return it back to its position.
Sometimes a bigger bird may decide to land on your antenna changing its position too. In this case, you are supposed to check the condition of your car antenna mast and ensure it’s in good condition.
Because antennas operate by tracking up radio waves, they should be extended to tap the waves. An antenna that’s stuck inside the vehicle will probably affect the radio signal.
After confirming that is shoved in, pull it back; this could be the possible solution to such a problem.
Since we don’t have a suitable way to prevent nature from shoving out manual antennas, your child or any passerby may touch the car antenna, making it stay shoved in.
This problem happens, mostly after leaving a car wash, the attendant could have forgotten to pull back the antenna. Driving with a shoved-in antenna will probably affect the signal of your car radio; hence poor reception.
On the other hand, electric antennas can also fail sometimes, but they are the best option because they automatically extend when the car radio is switched on.
And because you don’t understand much about these antennas, realizing that their motor is damaged can be tricky. You may decide to pull out a broken electric antenna using pliers, but doing so can be costly as it’s possible to break the motor or strip the gears.
2. Check your vehicle’s antenna connections
Here is another common causative that might lead to bad radio reception. Poor antenna connection happens, mostly when the cable of the antenna is poorly attached to the head unit.
Besides, you are likely to experience bad radio reception in your car when the connections are worn, loose, or corroded. Tuning to your favorite stations will be hindered.
To fix this, it’s advised to first check the connections between your head unit and the antenna cable. If the cable is properly fixed, then it’s advisable to tune into a certain station and then start to wiggle the antenna gently; forth and back.
In occasions where the connection is rigid, you will not realize anything, but if the connection is movable, you will feel the tuner dropping and reacquiring the wave/signal.
Check our guide about grounding a antenna properly.
3. Replace the antenna
Getting a new antenna can be the best solution instead of all hassles of taking the vehicle to the mechanic and still doesn’t work.
When checking the connections of your antenna, you’re likely to notice that the mounting hardware of your antenna is rusted, corroded, or broken.
Therefore, going for a replacement remains the best and most suitable option in such cases. Remember, corrosion and rust may hinder the antenna from communicating with the head unit properly.
There are also a lot of cases that may force you to opt for a new antenna. However, we have some vehicle models that are equipped with ‘grid style’ antennas, attached to the rear window’s glass instead of the mast or conventional whip antennas.
Whip antennas are associated with better reception.
4. Install a new signal booster
Radio signal boosters remain suitable and better than a panacea, responsible for curing what eats you. Sometimes you might be receiving signals from a certain station, but it is weak.
A suitable signal booster is ideal for improving reception. However, these boosters won’t help you when the poor signal reception is associated with obstructions like hills and tall buildings.
5. Replace the head unit
Buying a new head unit of your radio car can be another solution to treat a bad radio reception. I thought you should know that radio tuners in a vehicle’s head unit are far more upgraded compared to home radios.
It’s associated with many exceptions and edge cases, but even a relatively expensive digital unit is much better than your typical boom box or clock radio.
That being said, you need to understand that not all radio tuners of a car’s head unit are developed equal. Therefore, if you are done with checking your car’s antenna issues and don’t find anything, maybe it’s the ripe time to go for head unit replacement.
Some cheap head units pinch on the quality of the radio tuner, but even if you had a new radio, misfortunes or malfunctions do happen. Therefore, if there’s nothing else to perform the trick, your car radio might be busted.
Frequently asked questions
Why does the radio reception in my car increase when I touch the antenna?
You’re an antenna on your own. Touching the antenna will extend its length, hence strengthening the signal too. If this is the trick, try tying a piece of wire on the antenna’s head, it’s convenient.
Why am I not receiving DAB stations?
The reason behind this problem could be that the stations are moving from a certain location to a varying network. It mostly happens in digital radio transmitters. Besides, maybe the car radio isn’t receiving a robust signal to accommodate them in your favorite station list.
Hopefully, you find the above discussion useful to fix bad radio reception in your car. We have seen that there are several causatives for this problem as well as simple tricks to fix them out. But all in all, if the issue is persistent, going for a replacement of either the head unit or a new antenna is the best solution ever.