However, if your reception problems persist, you're probably dealing with an equipment malfunction, most of which are easily fixed. Whatever the case, if you have a retractable mast and your reception has been awful lately it's definitely worth checking this first.
Since antennas function by picking up radio wavesit only stands to reason that being shoved down inside the car might make it difficult for your antenna to function correctly. Pulling it back out, if you find it shoved in, may be all it takes to vastly improve your reception.
Electric antennas that extend when the radio is turned on can also fail in the down position, in which case your radio reception will probably be pretty bad. And since a lot of these antennas are outside your normal field of vision, you may not even notice that the motor is broken unless you specifically go looking for it. While you may be able to use pliers to pull out a failed electric antenna, doing so may strip the gears or damage the motor.
One of the most common causes of poor car radio reception is a poor antenna connection. The first thing to check is the connection between the antenna cable and the back of your head unit.
If that happens, you should tighten the antenna and check the grounds. When inspecting your antenna connections, you may find that your antenna mounting hardware or mast is corroded, rusted, or broken in some other way. In that case, replacing the antenna will usually do the trick. Since rust and corrosion can prevent the antenna from making a solid connection with your head unit, simply replacing the unit will often result in better reception. There are also a handful of other cases that call for a new antenna.
In some cases, a whip antenna will provide better reception. Radio signal boosters are far from a panacea for poor reception, but there are specific circumstances where they will cure what ails you.
On the whole, the radio tuners in cars' head units are far more advanced than home radios. There are plenty of edge cases and exceptions, but even a cheap digital head unit has a whole lot more going on under the hood than your average clock radio or boom box. That being said, not all head unit radio tuners are created equal.
So if nothing else does the trick, you may just have a busted car radio on your hands. Tweet Share Email. More from Lifewire.To receive and enjoy our quality programs to the fullest, you'll need the three A's of radio:.
If you have all three of these, you could potentially receive an FM station up to miles away! However, most of us have, at best, only one of these items. RADIOS: For good reception, a radio must have good selectivity selectivity is a radio's ability to separate weak stations located nearby, on the FM dial, strong stations and good sensitivity the ability to receive weak, distant, stations at all!
Car Radios: You already probably have a radio with these features. This radio is located in your automobile. Car radios have to be built to high standards to provide decent reception in a moving vehicle, in the presence of varying terrain, with a serious nearby source of interference your engine! You've already probably noticed that FM radio reception is usually better in your car than in your house. This is partially because your car radio is probably better than your home radio. Most clock radios, under kitchen cabinet radios, "boom boxes"crank-up radios, etc.
You can get the same reception in a bad location using a great antenna as you can in a good location using a bad antenna! But lets work on improving both! They are weakened by objects that get between the transmitter and receiver. The least expensive radios ONLY have built-in antennas, with no provision for connecting an external antenna.
With better radios, you have a choice. The atmosphere is FULL of radiofrequency signals, some of which will conflict with each other. Here's a few examples of types of interference to NCPR we've heard about. To receive and enjoy our quality programs to the fullest, you'll need the three A's of radio: A good radio A good antenna A good location If you have all three of these, you could potentially receive an FM station up to miles away!
They sound great, and are a quality product. Try connecting a better antenna see below and see how your reception improves! Reviews have stated that this is one of the best tuners ever built! Remember that you have to have an external amplifier and speakers for this one! The higher up your antenna is located, the better chance you have of receiving a clear signal from NCPR.Learning how to improve AM radio reception in your car is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth ride in the vehicle.
There are a ton of different products on the market which promise to be a surefire way answer to how to get better radio reception in your car. Most of these problems are easily fixed, and you should check them out before you try to buy anything to boost your reception. For more information: Best Pioneer 4 inch Car Speakers. Pretty much all electronics are going to interfere with the reception of your radio on some level. This type of interference is pretty specific to the AM portion of your radio and is one of the big reasons why there was such a strong push to FM in the middle of the s.
Switch over to mono from stereo settings, this will sometimes increase reception by picking up a stronger portion of the signal. Terrain does a remarkably good job at blocking both AM and FM radio waves, and the former in particular can get completely blocked despite small distances between you and the source of the signal. Sometimes everything is just going to be out of your hands. In some cases, you can even end up with a radio station completely overpowering another one although this is pretty rare in the wild.
There are a lot of gimmicks out there which purport to be the perfect solution to how to get better radio reception in your car.
Signal boosters are relatively simple devices. Signal boosters work like a repeater. They tend to get harsher reviews than many electronics because people rarely have the rest of their equipment in order before picking one up.
Most of the OEM models skimp on the radio, particularly in low to mid-cost vehicles, at least as far as reception is concerned. There are free apps available for both Android and iOS which will let you use your phone as an intermediary.
From there, you can either use Bluetooth or an auxiliary cord to connect to your head unit, depending on how advanced it is. Did we miss any of your favorite tricks? Leave us a comment below. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.
How to Improve Car Radio Reception
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. There are a few different culprits for both interference and bad reception within your vehicle: The antenna and associated connections Electronic interference A bad setup in the first place Most of these problems are easily fixed, and you should check them out before you try to buy anything to boost your reception.
The Antenna. Electronic Interference Pretty much all electronics are going to interfere with the reception of your radio on some level. The Station Sometimes everything is just going to be out of your hands.
Signal Boosters Signal boosters are relatively simple devices. Pretty much any head unit from a reputable company will be just fine.
The Other Option. Enter your text here Like this: Like LoadingIn his day, the brilliant -- some say, mad -- scientist Nikola Tesla had a vision: to fill the entire world with energy, so that powering anything was as simple as reaching out with a metal pole and pulling electricity out of thin air.
While Tesla's idea might seem a little crazy now, in a very real way we're living in exactly the energy-filled world he imagined. No matter where you go, the air is absolutely brimming with electrical energy in the form of radio waves, and catching them isn't much more difficult than our mad genius proposed way back in Have you ever wondered why car antennas are the length that they are, or why walkie-talkie and cell-phone antennas are so stubby?
It has to do with the wavelengths of radio. In order to "catch" a particular wavelength of radio energy from the air, an antenna works best if it's exactly as tall as the wavelength is long. Or, if that's not an option, then half or a quarter as tall. Car antennas are usually calibrated to "quarter-length" for the frequencies they're designed to pick up.
Too long usually doesn't hurt, but too short can seriously affect radio reception. For optimal FM radio reception through the lowest end of the radio range, your antenna should be a full 32 inches long. If the antenna is any shorter than 26 inches, it's effectively useless for civilian FM radio bands.
Ideally, your antenna should be as far away from the engine compartment as possible. The many electrical devices under your hood will throw off interference in the form of electrical inductance fields, which will hit your antenna and induce an electrical signal in it. This signal will come through the radio as anything from a background hiss or static, to harsh popping or buzzing.
Automobile ignition systems are notorious for throwing off just this kind of interference, especially those with long, unshielded spark plug wires.
How to Improve Am/Fm Auto Radio Reception
This is why most new cars have the antenna on the fender, near the trunk. You want the antenna as far up as possible for the greatest possible range. Once you have it on, you'll need to attach the antenna's ground wire to a solid ground.
This is vitally important.
Poor Radio Reception Signal
Use thick, audio-system-quality ground wire, and connect it to a heavy, unpainted metal chassis component -- preferably the frame.
Make sure you have solid metal-to-metal contact between the loop on the ground cable, the mounting bolt and the grounding point. One of the go-to solutions for most is a simple powered pre-amplifier or signal booster. These devices work just like the amplifier that you use to power your speakers, taking a weak signal from the antenna and amplifying it before it gets to your radio.
They're usually simple to install, simply screwing in line between the antenna cable and radio. Hook the amplifier up to a volt power source, and you're good to go. Some car stereos have powerful pre-amps built into them, but most don't.
An amplifier will greatly increase your radio's range, but it will also allow it to more easily pick up on unwanted interference. So, proper shielded cable is a must, and so is keeping the amp away from the stereo head unit. If you find yourself picking up interference from the engine bay after using a pre-amp, try grounding the hood and inner fenders to the chassis with a length of guage wire and a couple of sheetmetal screws.
This will form a partial "Faraday cage," trapping unwanted signals before they get to your antenna. There's also a system out there known as "diversity tuning," which uses a pair of antennas on the front and rear. A computer rapidly switches back and forth between the antenna with the best signal, which enhances "multipath rejection. The same thing happens with satellite radio, which is even more prone to interference around large buildings because the small satellite radio antennas need a direct line of sight to the satellite.If your car radio is sounding more like a can of ginger ale on a hot day than a car stereo, there might be a simple solution right in front of you.
There are a number of things that can cause your car stereo to lose its reception quality, but this is one of the most common and easily remedied. The problem: a loose radio antenna. Sounds too stupid to be true, but if your car has a long, stiff "whip" style antenna, as many cars today come with, it could just be loose, causing you to get static. The antenna screws into its base on the fender just like anything else. All you need to do is check it for tightness. If it's loose, hand tighten it then give it a little extra nudge with a wrench or pliers careful not to scratch the paint!
Matthew Wright. Matthew Wright has been a freelance writer and editor for over 10 years and an automotive repair professional for three decades specializing in European vintage vehicles. Updated March 18, If it was loose, you'll be bathed in static free car stereo sound once again.During these challenging times, we guarantee we will work tirelessly to support you. We will continue to give you accurate and timely information throughout the crisis, and we will deliver on our mission — to help everyone in the world learn how to do anything — no matter what.
Thank you to our community and to all of our readers who are working to aid others in this time of crisis, and to all of those who are making personal sacrifices for the good of their communities. We will get through this together. Updated: November 1, References.
How to fix bad radio reception?
Car radios are one of the most common ways people listen to radio. We almost always have access to them, unlike portable radios. However, it can be frustrating when you start to have reception problems. Cars usually come with decent radios, so if you're having poor reception, there is probably some form of problem.
Cars can have many unique reception problems that are different than portable radios, which is the frustrating part. However, you may not realize how easy some of these problems are to troubleshoot.
Article Edit.Listening to the radio on either a favorite AM or favorite FM station while driving a car can make the ride seem faster. When the radio station is unclear or is fuzzy, the station becomes annoying rather than relaxing and sometimes ends up as a distraction.
Improving the reception not only makes the music clearer, it can make the sound less distracting. Auto reception depends on the antennae of the vehicle, but there are ways to improve the sound quality. Turn off electrical devices like phones, Ipods, mp3 players or anything else running in the car. Interference from electrical devices can result in poor reception that is easily fixed. Keep in mind that windshield wipers, AC or other car electronics can cause interference which cannot be turned off.
Change the radio mode to "mono" rather than "stereo". This will change the signal type and often improves reception as a result. Look at the location of the antenna.
An antenna in the front of the vehicle, near the engine, will often have more interference than an antenna on the back of the vehicle or on the top of the vehicle. Also look at the height of the antenna and ensure it is fully extending if it is the type of antenna to extend when the radio is turned one.
If the antenna is short or is not fully extending, look into replacements for better reception. Look at the antennae wiring. One cause of poor reception is improper wiring or damage to the wiring in the antennae. Check if the antenna is the problem by taking a portable radio, turning off the car and finding the station on the portable radio.
If the station is clear on the portable radio, turn on the car and try finding it without moving the vehicle on the car radio. If the signal is not clear in the car, it is possible that there is a wiring problem. Replace the antenna if the problem is related to wiring. Replace the radio with an HD radio.
Unlike the original radios in a car, the HD radios pick up clearer signals in high definition sound. Sometimes the problem with reception is the type of radio installed in a vehicle, especially if the car is older.
Wiring problems with the radio itself can result in poor reception or no reception. This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information.
To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us. Step 1 Turn off electrical devices like phones, Ipods, mp3 players or anything else running in the car. Step 2 Change the radio mode to "mono" rather than "stereo". Step 3 Look at the location of the antenna. Step 4 Look at the antennae wiring. Items you will need Portable radio. About the Author This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information.
Photo Credits autoradio 2 image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.