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How to Fix a Car Antenna

Updated: Mar. 09, 2023

Complete this simple fix in about 2 hours.

FH11DJA_FIXANT_02-2Family Handyman
Fix a stuck power antenna by replacing a burned out motor or bad cable/mast. You can do both in about 2 hours, and you'll avoid the $50 - $100 dealer service fee. You need only one special tool, an antenna wrench.

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Fix a stuck power antenna

Photo 1: Unbolt the power antenna and pull it free

Tilt the bottom of the antenna away from the fender and pull the unit down and out. That will loosen the rubber gasket and break the unit free.

Photo 1A: Close-up of antenna wrench

Use the special wrench to remove the bezel that holds the antenna in place.

power antenna cable

Photo 2: Out with the old

Cut the old nylon cable with side cutters. Remove the entire cable, gears and spool and clean all the parts with degreaser.

Photo 3: Reinstall the mast and regrease

Install the mast and nylon cable in the housing and mesh the cable teeth to the drive gear. Install the cover and tighten the screws.

If your power radio antenna won’t go up and down anymore, the problem is either a burned-out motor or the geared cable inside the mast. Both are easy DIY fixes. You can do the entire repair in about two hours. The parts run about $25 for a new cable/mast, plus the cost of the special wrench. Or, pick up a complete junkyard unit for about $75 (that’s half the price of a new antenna).

First, make sure the motor works. Have a friend turn on the radio and listen for motor noise coming from the antenna area. If it makes noise, it’s a candidate for repair. If not, you’ll have to replace it using the steps we show. Next, order a replacement mast kit from The kit includes a new geared nylon cable connected to new antenna sections. You’ll also need a special wrench to remove the bezel nut (Photo 1A). DON’T use pliers; you’ll scratch the bezel and the paint. Check an auto parts store for one or order the Steck No. STC21600 (about $18) from

Unscrew the bezel (Photo 1) and remove the antenna retaining bolts. If your power antenna is mounted inside the front fender, remove the wheel-well liner by pulling out the plastic rivets and push-in retainers.

Next disconnect the power and coaxial cable connectors and remove the entire unit from the vehicle (Photo 2). If your antenna doesn’t have a removable coaxial connector, disconnect the power connectors and perform the mast replacement while the unit is still connected to the coaxial cable.

Remove the cover screws from the antenna. Then lift the cover and note the location of the gears, cable spool, washers and idler roller before you remove them. Next, remove old mast (Photo 1). Thread the nylon cable and mast into the spool and reinsert the gears and rollers (Photo 3). Spray all the moving parts with lithium grease. Reinstall the cover, then plug in the power antenna and reinstall it in the fender or trunk.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Nut driver
  • Side cutter
  • Socket/ratchet set
You’ll also need a special antenna wrench.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Degreaser
  • Lithium grease spray
  • Plastic gloves
  • Replacement mast kit