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Car audio for a newbie?
December 9, 2010 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Do I need to buy speakers? What the hell is an HU? Can someone hold my hand while I try to get the speakers fixed in this pontiac vibe?

I'm a total car audio moron.

It's been determined that only one of the speakers in my girlfriend's 04 Vibe is working (the rear passenger-side, if it matters). I'm trying to figure out the best way to go about diagnosing the problem, and then getting it fixed.

Is it likely that the speakers in the car have just blown out? What are the odds that it is something else? Are there any step-by-step instructions available online that I can use to determine the problem myself?

If I take it to the reality-based equivalent of the Nerd Herd, will they do a good job installing new speakers -- or fixing the other issues -- for a reasonable price?

Finally: If it is the speakers that are busted, how does one go about selecting new ones to install? About how much am I looking at spending here?

Thanks
posted by Think_Long to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Odds are outstanding that it's a problem in the connector in the back of the audio unit itself.

If you don't want to tackle it yourself, there are car stereo places in any city of any size, as well as Best Buy that does car audio in most locations. Quality is all over the place, as with anything, but Best Buy did all right in my car.

They should have charts and search tools that will tell them what size speakers will fit in the enclosures. Some zealous enthusiast type salespeople will try to sell you on getting bigger ones and cutting on the car, etc. Say "no," politely but firmly. If you get it into their head that you just want the tunes working again, you'll probably come away with a very stock looking install (in fact, probably using the factory trim pieces over new speakers), and probably no more than $80 per pair of speakers.

Again, odds are you don't need new speakers.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:13 PM on December 9, 2010


In car-audio-ese "HU" is probably "head unit," the receiver/amp that's driving the speakers.
posted by RogerB at 12:14 PM on December 9, 2010


There are plenty of instructions online on how to remove your HU (head unit) from your dash as well as removing the door/kick panel that the speaker is mounted it, remove it and check the connections. For starters, try looking on Crutchfield for install/removal instructions.

If its fairly easy, I would pull them out and check the connections.
posted by wongcorgi at 12:38 PM on December 9, 2010


"Blown Out" speakers will sound bad for a long time before going silent. I agree with randomkeystrike that this is likely a connection issue, not a speaker issue. When speakers die they tend to do it in a long drown out process, not all at once.

Diagnosing and repairing a connection issue really generally a matter of labor as opposed to parts.

Also make sure you haven't done something dumb and moved the balance all the way to one side.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:59 PM on December 9, 2010


"Blown Out" speakers will sound bad for a long time before going silent. I agree with randomkeystrike that this is likely a connection issue, not a speaker issue. When speakers die they tend to do it in a long drown out process, not all at once.

Diagnosing and repairing a connection issue really generally a matter of labor as opposed to parts.


We got the car used, and I'm pretty sure they were all dead when we got it.

So this is something that I can take to Best Buy and they'll make sure it's not just a connection issue?
posted by Think_Long at 1:20 PM on December 9, 2010


Almost positive its just a connection issue. 3 being ineffective suggests a connection error at the source, not individual problems with each speaker (blowing).

There are places that will sell you instructions as to how to remove the head unit and the speakers to check the connections (and if you've got strong google-fu, you can likely dig up some free instructions) In my experience though, this is relatively easy. If you've got a tiny bit of courage, grab a butter knife, or something flat, wrap a thin towel around the blade (to prevent scratching the plastic on your car) jam it into the side of the plastic moulding that surrounds the stereo. The piece typically pops right out and then you'll have access to some screws that'll let you pull the stereo out. You can check here to be sure everything is plugged in.

If this doesn't solve the issue, you can move on to trying to remove each of the problematic speakers to check the connection. Tip: the back of the rear speakers are USUALLY accessible from the trunk, without taking anything apart. These should be easy to check if this is true.

Hope this helps. If you end up taking it somewhere, they should just charge you an hour's worth of labor to solve the issue, which might be as much as $100.

Good luck
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 1:44 PM on December 9, 2010


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