Aux Plug Broken
January 2, 2010 10:22 AM   Subscribe

My son broke off the plug in my Aux input on my 2008 Nissan Altima. There is no piece sticking out far enough to get with needle nose pliers. Any idea on how I can clear the plug to be able to use it again?

Not sure what he did or how it broke off, but it is a clean break. Very frustrating that I can't get it out with small pliers. I've also tried to heat up a safety pin and connect it to the plug, but that has not helped at all. Any ideas are appreciated. I really don't want to have to take the dash apart, unless the stereo unit will come out by itself.
posted by snoelle to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total)
Can you get your hands on some neodymium magnets?
posted by InsanePenguin at 10:26 AM on January 2, 2010

Good news (or bad, depending on how you look at it,) is that I doubt opening the dash would help at all.
posted by InsanePenguin at 10:27 AM on January 2, 2010

Superglue on the remaining part of the plug might work. But based on your comment about heating the safety pin, I'm not sure that would work.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:30 AM on January 2, 2010

Nthing strong magnets. If you don't want to order them online, I've found them at craft stores like Michaels.

Is your car still under warranty? The radio would fall under that, so worst case scenerio, you can get your radio swapped out for a new one.

Or, if you've been wanting to get a brand new radio (say with sattelite or HD radio), now would be a good time for it. Chances are you can get it installed at Best Buy or a similar store for not too much extra.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:36 AM on January 2, 2010

I like the superglue idea. What about trying to glue it to something similar in diameter like blunt end of a wooden skewer, the tip of a ball point pen, or the head of a nail?
posted by cecic at 10:37 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

A magnet isn't likely to help because there's probably no magnetic material in the broken piece.

You might be able to drill a small hole in the broken piece and use a tiny stud extractor to pull it out (if stud extractors that small exist), but if you do drill beware of dropping conductive shavings into the radio.

I think your best bet is to get the radio out, but that might still not give access to the broken bit.
posted by anadem at 10:41 AM on January 2, 2010

Perhaps a technique used to uproot fenceposts (scaled down) might help. Try this:
  • Get four small-size needles.
  • Pinch two in between your left thumb and forefingers. Do the same on your right.
  • Insert two of the tips between the plug and the jack opening (not much space there I know, but even getting the tips to go a millimeter below the broken plug is enough)
  • Insert the other tips as much as possible.
  • While applying firm pressure pushing the needles into the jack, also tilt the pins outward.
With luck this will pry the plug up enough to reach with pliers.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:47 AM on January 2, 2010

Is there a picture available, so we can see exactly what parts of the plug is still there?
posted by Behemoth at 10:54 AM on January 2, 2010

shoe goo on a toothpick or bend 1mm or so of the pointy end of a needle 90deg and use that to dig into the inside side of the plug and kind of "scrape" it out.
posted by rhizome at 11:05 AM on January 2, 2010

posted by jeffamaphone at 11:06 AM on January 2, 2010

Radio removal looks pretty easy:
Step 1

Disconnect the negative cable from the negative battery terminal. To do this, turn the retaining bolt on the cable clamp counterclockwise until the clamp is loose enough to pull off the battery terminal.

Step 2

Wedge the flat-head screwdriver under the trim surrounding the air-conditioning controls. Pry the trim out of place as it is held in with retaining clips. Work your way around the outside of the trim piece until the trim pops off.

Step 3

Remove the screw on the right-hand side that is holding the trim around the bezel in place. You can only access this once you've removed the trim around the air-conditioning. Once you remove this one screw, the trim piece around the radio will come right off.

Step 4

Remove the four screws that hold the stereo in place. Once you've removed these four screws, the radio will pull right out of the dash.

Step 5

Unplug the electrical connections in the back of the stereo and finish removing the stereo. These connectors are plug-style connectors. Squeeze the end of the connector, and pull it out of the back of the stereo.

If this works for you, opening the radio case should be fairly simple. In most cases this is done by unscrewing two to four screws. The jack should be open on the back (inside) of the case. Use a very small screwdriver to push the plug outward until it can be grabbed by needle nose pliers.

Reverse your field until the radio is back in operation.
posted by Old Geezer at 11:13 AM on January 2, 2010

Previous, previously.
posted by hortense at 11:14 AM on January 2, 2010

I don't think drilling would work, because the bit would just grab onto the metal and spin it in place. If you use glue, you'd almost have to use an epoxy and let it dry to have enough adhesion on a small surface, and you have to be very, very careful to not let the glue get on the sides. Pulling the radio still won't help much, because you're just going to have a radio out with a broken jack in it. I think those have the jack in a button face on the front panel, right? I'll bet that would be a summabitch to get into. Disassembling the radio to get to it may be more than you want to get into. I think maybe a t-pin or something with a dab of epoxy like JB kwik on the tip may be your best bet, but you're going to have to hold it safely in place while it dries. Ugh. I don't envy you.
posted by Red Loop at 11:49 AM on January 2, 2010

I think I would try to make a sleeve that can slip around the remaining bit out of some thin plastic material, fill up the sleeve with epoxy, let harden, and then pull that out.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:49 PM on January 2, 2010

Hunt around on McMaster-Carr's web page. They've got tweezers, retrievers, positioners, probes, etc.

That page, and the links at the top should get you started. Somewhere in there are some tiny hooks for this sort of thing. I like the look of the "Parts Positioners with Miniature Hooks"

Short of one of those working, I'd use super glue or jb weld. Stick a small straw or tube around the outside of the broken piece, put some JB on the tip of a sawed-in-half toothpick, insert into tube, let cure for a day and give it a try.
posted by paanta at 1:13 PM on January 2, 2010

paanta is on to something with the straw. It sounds like a good idea to fill the end of a drinking straw with some epoxy insert into aux jack and let dry for a bit. Then pull out. Test the straw first you may be able to get it w/o the epoxy.
posted by bravowhiskey at 1:53 PM on January 2, 2010

Get some E-6000 glue from a craft store and glue some kind of metal pick like maybe a large opened paper clip or phillips head screwdriver to the broken off piece. Use a teeny, small bit of the glue, being very careful not to get any on the jack. This glue is very strong and should work. I haven't actually done this process, by the way, just a suggestion. E-6000 glue is used in jewelry making and works well with metal.
posted by tamitang at 4:44 PM on January 2, 2010

Try a very small wood screw, the width at the second/third thread should be about the same diamater as the broken-off plug. Evenly and slowly screw it in straight, applying a bit of pressure to get it to bite a bit, but not TOO much pressure. You'll feel it "bite." Have a pair of needle nose pliers ready (the smaller the tip, the better), and slowly remove the screw/plug. As soon as there is enough plug showing, use the pliers to grab. Sometimes it's easier as a two-person job. Small eye-hooks work well, in place of the screw.
posted by peewinkle at 5:38 PM on January 2, 2010

I would explore the option of removing the plug. Do you really need to take the whole dash out, can you just follow Old Geezer's instructions? This has a much higher probability of success and much much lower probability of you having an aux jack with a blob of superglue holding the broken off piece in place even more firmly.

(take this from somebody who had the same problem with a laptop. Just took the damn thing apart eventually, it was then quite easy to remove the offending piece.)
posted by defcom1 at 3:28 AM on January 3, 2010

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