Help me hack my car's stereo!
November 25, 2008 4:53 PM   Subscribe

I need tunes! Please help me hack* my car's stereo.

So, some genius broke into my car (technically a '97 RAV4) and stole (only) the faceplate off of my cd player (an Alpine...something...that I got back in 2002). They graciously left the tape player, and since I've got one of those headphone jack-to-cassette mcgees, I'd ideally like to play songs off of my (no-brand, bare bones) mp3 player. However, the tape doesn't want to play (yes, it is a functioning accessory; it works just fine in my boombox). In fact, the whole cassette player itself appears to not work at all. I don't know if it ever worked, but I'd sure like it to now. I don't recall there being an option on my cd player to switch to the tape player, so I don't think it's that. If all else fails, I'll probably just buy a replacement faceplate, but I'd hate to have to upgrade from my sweet mid-nineties technology.

Picture of the offending area.

Is there anything I can do (for under, say, 10 bucks) to fix this thing? Could it be some sort of fuse (??) issue or something? Is there some secret other way for me to make my music come out of my car? I'm quite handy, so if someone tells me what to look for, I have no problem ripping my dash apart and tinkering.


* ...sigh... Yeah, yeah, I know.
posted by phunniemee to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
Rip the dash apart! Or at least get the tape player or CD player out. Chances are* there's a series of wires running into the CD player that ferry power and speakeritude between it and the rest of the car. They should come together into a plug that goes into either the back of the CD player or a plug coming out of the CD player. Hopefully your tape player has the same deal and just happens to be unplugged, and you can just swap the plug from one into the other.

* All of this knowledge is based on a time when I bought a used car that had the adapter cut out of it, and I attempted to wire it myself - if cars had magic smoke, that one sure wouldn't anymore.
posted by soma lkzx at 5:33 PM on November 25, 2008

When the technicians put the after market receiver in your car, they probably disconnected the former audio device from power and the speakers. It is possible that the stock wiring harness was never cut off and can still be plugged into your old tape player. Depending on who did it, they may have cut off the old harness - they tend to do things like this at places like Best Buy where it costs them less than using the adapters. If this is the case you will probably need to contact the tape player OEM and see about getting a new wire harness.
posted by I_am_jesus at 10:32 PM on November 25, 2008

The problem is that looks to be a secondary tape player. It would have originally been connected to the factory radio. The big clues are no volume and no radio controls. It's never going to work as you want it to because it doesn't have the rest of the necessary electronics to drive speakers.

You could try to track down a Toyota OEM radio (or radio+cd player) but it might be difficult to find for a 97 RAV4 and not worth whatever someone wants for it. You could try contacting Alpine but without a model number (you'd need to pull the radio to find that if you don't have the original documentation) and if you no longer have proof of purchase it will likely be tough to get a replacement faceplate.

I'm guessing you'll need to get a new radio.
posted by 6550 at 6:41 AM on November 26, 2008

Troll eBay for similar-looking Alpine faceplates? Geez, I'd spend the $1.25 before doing any serious hacking. Maybe they're similar and you can be one number/letter off on the model or something but it will still work.

Or...fuck it. Just buy a car stereo with a stereo input jack for $15 and wire it up. It'll sound better than the silly tape adapter anyway.
posted by ostranenie at 9:50 PM on November 26, 2008

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