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AM radio issues - new car radio installed
Old 03-20-2016, 09:09 AM   #1
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AM radio issues - new car radio installed

I recently installed a new Pioneer AM/FM/CD?Bluetooth tuner in a friend's 1994 Cadillac DeVille (Mom's car who recently passed). The OEM radio was working, but not well. I also installed a Chinese aftermarket power antenna in the rear fender to replace the dead one.

FM reception is great but AM is full of static. AM is what my friend likes to listen to.

I see there are Android options for streaming radio stations such as TuneIn radio. Has anyone tried the free version of TuneIn or have any suggestions for an alternative for a method of streaming AM Radio to this new car radio?

Also, if anyone has suggestions as to how to reduce or eliminate AM static from the Cad install of the new unit, I would be grateful.

Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:15 AM   #2
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Could be the antenna. Is there no AM reception, or is it uneven and varies as the car is moving?
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by aja8888 View Post
I see there are Android options for streaming radio stations such as TuneIn radio. Has anyone tried the free version of TuneIn or have any suggestions for an alternative for a method of streaming AM Radio to this new car radio?
You can get most of the AM stations using two app:

TuneIn and IHeartRadio.

Almost all the IHeartRadio stations (they used to be call Clear Channel, but they changed their name) can only streamed using their own app. They own a lot of stations, so there's a good chance you may need this.

Most of the other stations are available through TuneIn.

Both apps are fairly good (they've improved over the years). I use the iOS versions, but I expect the Android versions are comparable.
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:33 AM   #4
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You can get most of the AM stations using two app:

TuneIn and IHeartRadio.

Almost all the IHeartRadio stations (they used to be call Clear Channel, but they changed their name) can only streamed using their own app. They own a lot of stations, so there's a good chance you may need this.

Most of the other stations are available through TuneIn.

Both apps are fairly good (they've improved over the years). I use the iOS versions, but I expect the Android versions are comparable.
I've used them both on Android and iOS (but almost all on iHeart, TuneIn might be fine also, I've just stuck with iHeart and don't recall why at this point).

As long as he has enough cellular data available for his listening habits. I use it on wifi around the house and on my desk computer (a laptop). The Chicago radio stations come in somewhat marginally to poor where I'm at, at least on my radios - the wifi is crystal clear, no static/interference of course, and I'd say they transmit a better frequency range, better fidelity than the AM band allows for.

In some ways though, an old fashioned radio is more convenient in a car - just hit a button to change station, rather than go through a menu.

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Old 03-20-2016, 10:07 AM   #5
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There are car radios available that use the Android OS and will run the radio apps. I am not absolutely certain but I think one of the brands is "Parrot".
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Old 03-20-2016, 10:52 AM   #6
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I use the TuneIn ap on IOS and it works great but I would be concerned about data use in the car. Also probably not convenient to change station, volume, etc. I would look at trouble shooting the real issue causing the static. You said the OE antennae was "dead" but I presume you mean the motor that runs the antennae up and down quit. When I had this issue on another GM car, the motor would run but the antennae did not extend. The radio worked ok anyway, but I took the motor apart, cleaned up the gears and it worked fine. I would try to get the antennae working properly. Is the reception better with the old antennae if you extend it manually? The AM band seems to be an afterthought on some newer radios.
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:09 AM   #7
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Thanks for the replies.

The original antenna shaft was broken and the remaining piece stuck in the up position. It worked, but AM stations were weak and mostly static. The new antenna (all things made in China these days) was a $80 unit which dropped right into place and seemed to work as designed. But with the old and new radio, AM stations were loaded with static. Maybe it's the times these days.

I'll have him try the apps and see how that works. He only listens to local Houston AM stations so maybe the streaming app will be the solution.
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:23 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies.

The original antenna shaft was broken and the remaining piece stuck in the up position. It worked, but AM stations were weak and mostly static. The new antenna (all things made in China these days) was a $80 unit which dropped right into place and seemed to work as designed. But with the old and new radio, AM stations were loaded with static. Maybe it's the times these days.
Is the static you refer to atmospheric static, ignition noise or perhaps alternator whine? Is it different when the engine is running vs when it's off? If it's only there when the engine is running, does it vary with rpm? Is it a screech or whine? Or a rat-tat-tat?
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:24 AM   #9
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If the reception improve when the engine is off, the static could be caused by bad spark plugs or plug wires.

<oops, youbet beat me by a minute. And alternator is another good tip>
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:28 AM   #10
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Is the static you refer to atmospheric static, ignition noise or perhaps alternator whine? Is it different when the engine is running vs when it's off? If it's only there when the engine is running, does it vary with rpm? Is it a screech or whine? Or a rat-tat-tat?
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If the reception improve when the engine is off, the static could be caused by bad spark plugs or plug wires.

<oops, youbet beat me by a minute. And alternator is another good tip>
Static is there with engine off and key on accessory, so it's not interference from plug wires or the alternator. The system does have a "factory" amplifier under the rear deck shelf and I suspect that may be an issue. Strange that FM is very good with no static what so ever.
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Old 03-20-2016, 12:52 PM   #11
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I know little about electronics but would wrapping the antenna cable in heavy duty foil possible shield it from amplifier RF interference?
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Old 03-20-2016, 02:10 PM   #12
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Is kinda sounds like you have an open connection somewhere between the antenna and the receiver. Have you tried using an ohmmeter to see if the coax is open? It also might be a poor connection where the cable attaches at one end- look for corrosion, bent connector, etc. But that doesn't explain why the FM is OK.

Here is pretty good approach to debugging car AM issues. Here's part 2.
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Old 03-20-2016, 02:21 PM   #13
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I know little about electronics but would wrapping the antenna cable in heavy duty foil possible shield it from amplifier RF interference?
No. It doesn't sound like there is any RF interference involved. The amplifier OP is referring to is an AF amp.
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Old 03-20-2016, 02:31 PM   #14
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Static is there with engine off and key on accessory, so it's not interference from plug wires or the alternator. The system does have a "factory" amplifier under the rear deck shelf and I suspect that may be an issue. Strange that FM is very good with no static what so ever.
Sooooo...... what does the "static" sound like? Steady crackling sound? Blasts of noise varying in amplitude? Constant buzz?

Confirm that both the original and the new radio performed the same in regard to noise on the AM band. IE, replacing the radio yielded the same results. I think that's what you said.

If you bring a portable radio to the car and listen to it on AM, how does it sound?

I'm not a betting man, but right now I'd bet that one or both ends of the coax shield have become open at the connector either at the radio or at the antenna. You re-used the existing coax, right? This could cause the problem on AM while leaving FM working OK.
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Old 03-20-2016, 04:37 PM   #15
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Thanks for the replies. I'm going to have a close look at all the cables next week. I will also try some external shielding experiments.
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Old 03-20-2016, 06:31 PM   #16
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+1 on youbet's antenna cable problem. Try some electrical cleaner spray as well on the antenna connections Especially the outer metal part (connects the shield) which tends to corrode.

By the way, I don't know about newer radios, on older ones there used to be a tiny hole accessing a tiny capacitor for adjusting the antenna to the radio.
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Old 03-20-2016, 08:20 PM   #17
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Would it be easy/possible to attach the unit to a known good (temporary) antenna to diagnose where the problem might lie? IOW, if you attach another antenna to the radio and get good am reception then you'll know it is the antenna that you installed in the car or something in between.
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:01 PM   #18
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Would it be easy/possible to attach the unit to a known good (temporary) antenna to diagnose where the problem might lie? IOW, if you attach another antenna to the radio and get good am reception then you'll know it is the antenna that you installed in the car or something in between.

A coat hanger always worked for me.


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Old 03-20-2016, 09:02 PM   #19
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Would it be easy/possible to attach the unit to a known good (temporary) antenna to diagnose where the problem might lie? IOW, if you attach another antenna to the radio and get good am reception then you'll know it is the antenna that you installed in the car or something in between.
That's a possibility after we look at the cable for losses. I'll have to obtain another antenna and that should not be hard since the non motor driven ones are about $20.
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