How to Fix a Car Radio

Updated: Mar. 07, 2023

Remove your broken radio and send it in for repair

auto radio repairFamily Handyman
Remove your car radio/CD unit and send it in for repairs rather than buying a new one. The trick is getting it out without wrecking anything.

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Remove your car radio

Photo 1: Remove the control panel

Slip the nylon prying tool between the heater control and the dash. Pop the control panel off.

Photo 1A: Close-up of nylon prying tools

Use nylon prying tools to prevent damage to the dash panel. Experiment to find which tool works best for each trim piece.

Photo 2: Remove the trim panel and bolts

Pry out the radio trim panel to expose the radio fasteners. Then remove the retaining bolts.

Photo 3: Disconnect the wires

Disconnect the electrical connectors and the antenna from the back of the radio. Then lift it out.

You own a high-end vehicle with a broken CD player. You could take it to one of the “big box” stores where they offer free installation on a new player. But the thought of a 16-year-old “customizing” your dash gives you nightmares of additional auto radio repair. Besides, you love the look and sound of your factory system. You would remove the factory radio yourself and send it in for repair, if only you could figure out how to do it.

Removing the radio itself is actually pretty easy. But to get to that point, you’ll first have to remove some dash trim pieces. And there’s usually a trick or two to getting those off without wrecking anything while attempting auto radio repair. We recommend investing in two things: a set of special tools for trim removal and an online set of instructions geared specifically to your car. A set of the four most commonly used trim removal tools costs less than $16 online. It’s worth every penny.

For help with the radio removal procedure for your vehicle, go to This site sells complete radio and trim removal instructions (with photos) for over 4,000 different make/ model combinations. The removal instructions cost less than $10. Some do-it-yourself repair instructions are also available (see the “DIY repairs” link on the Web site). After you pull the radio, you can send the unit directly to for repair. Repair rates run from $185 to $300, depending on the make and model. That may seem high, but new factory replacements can run almost twice that price.

Required Tools for this Project

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

  • Socket/ratchet set
You’ll also need nylon prying tools and radio removal instructions.