Have I fried my car stereo?
November 22, 2007 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Have I fried my car stereo? Exposed wires crossed, and then no more music...

I had successfully installed my car stereo, by recycling the old wiring harness from my old head unit, chopping the wires and reattaching them to the new unit. I reattached the battery cables to check it. Everything worked fine.

Then when I was taping up the exposed wires with electrical tape two of them must have touched causing some sort of short circuit, and just like that, it died. Obviously, I should have removed the battery cable again while taping the wires.

Is it repairable? I’ve unplugged everything and reattached it all, checked the fuse on the stereo and it seems fine, but I get no response from the stereo now, except I can hear the cd player spinning up. My guess is either exposed part of the ground wire or the battery wire has come in contact with one of the other exposed wires and shorted the whole thing.

Is there any way I can fix this or should I cut my losses (the stereo only cost me $80) and buy another unit? I would appreciate the hive mind’ thoughts on which wires may have crossed and if there is any way of fixing this.
posted by robotot to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Check your car fuses.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:09 PM on November 22, 2007

Response by poster: car fuses? They'd be the flat coloured plastic ones? How does one tell if they are blown?
posted by robotot at 6:23 PM on November 22, 2007

Best answer: Hold them up under a bright light to check them for damage... but it's usually wiser to replace it with a known good fuse and see if that helps, or put the suspect fuse in another circuit and see if it powers that circuit ok.
posted by chips ahoy at 6:38 PM on November 22, 2007

Best answer: You don't say if your CD player is a separate changer, or in the head unit itself. If it's separate, I'd say check fuses as wgp suggested, but if the CD you hear spinning up is the one in the head unit and the rest of the controls are unresponsive, it's likely FUBAR.

Flat plastic car fuses can be seen easily if they're blown -- pull them out and look at the side. The metal strip running through them will be separated, usually accompanied by burny/melty-looking area.

And, as a fellow lazy electrical car knob ( :-) who's done exactly the same thing, when you're testing, in the future just wrap one of the pairs of wires.
posted by liquado at 7:39 PM on November 22, 2007

Response by poster: Liquado: It's the head unit itself. I'll check the fuses anyway, but I don't hold out much hope. I've already begun shopping for a replacement.
posted by robotot at 8:21 PM on November 22, 2007

What chips ahoy said applies to checking the fuse on the stereo as well. Sometimes a visual inspection is not good enough. Pop another fuse in, or even short it out for a quick double check.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:33 PM on November 22, 2007

You don't say what car it is.

If it's a newer one, they often times have separate amps that would probably have their own fuses. Stuffed under a seat or stuck in a panel somewhere. If your head unit is working, but you're not getting sound, I'd bet on this.

If you have an older car with no amps, I'd say you have the wires hooked up wrong. Electronics are pretty resilient nowadays. Hooking things up backwards won't fry anything anymore, there are protections for that. I'd look at the diagram again.
posted by sanka at 8:40 PM on November 22, 2007

Response by poster: Weapons/ liquado/ and chips ahoy: It was a fuse. $2 later and it works fine. Thanks, you saved me from buying a whole new unit...which would have been cool, but I really couldn't afford it. You guys rock.
posted by robotot at 9:31 PM on November 22, 2007

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