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Ford Radio Volume Repair

Difficulty: Difficult
Knowledge required: Soldering iron experience, some electronics language
Tools: Soldering iron, phillips and flat-head screw driver, Ford radio puller handles, alcohol or contact cleaner, cotton swabs, hot glue

Applicable Vehicles

  • Ford Escape 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
  • Ford Expedition 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Ford Explorer 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Ford Mercury Mountaineer 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Ford Mustang 2001, 2002, 2003
  • Ford Ranger 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

Not all listed vehicles nor versions thereof share identical connectors at the rear.

Some vehicle upgrades may include a different sound system and radio.

The technology used to mount the radio may differ.

Symptoms

  • Volume only goes up or down, but not both.
  • Volume is sporadic or "jumpy."
  • Volume does not change at all.

Problem

On my 2002 Ford Ranger XLT, once in a blue moon I could make my volume go up, but it would not go back down. The typical symptom I encountered was that the volume knob was completely unresponsive.

View of the radio model that this repair concerns
View of the radio model that this repair concerns

The Repair

Step 1: Remove The Radio

Use a standard Ford radio removal tool to pull the radio.
If you do not have this, use thick, strong wire from a clothes hanger.

On my 2002 Ranger, I removed two screws under the radio to remove the entire center dashboard, then pushed the radio out by applying pressure to the metal clips on either side of the radio.

Step 2: Extract The Daughterboard

  1. Using a phillips-head screw driver, remove the set screw on the left and right side of the front panel on the radio.
  2. Using a flat-head screw driver, apply some upward force on the plastic clips that hold the front panel in place, and gently push the panel away from the body.
  3. Unplug the cable from the front panel that connects it to the body
  4. Pull the volume knob off of the potentiometer/switch
  5. Unplug the cable from the daughterboard containing the volume knob, which connects to the main board in the front panel.
  6. Remove all screws holding the boards to the front panel, and lift them out. Be careful to not bend the shielding around the display. You will see that I have held this shielding in place with tape.

Front panel main board and volume/power daughterboard (upper-right)
Front panel main board and volume/power daughterboard (upper-right)

Step 3: Remove The Potentiometer

  1. To make things easier, consider removing the daughterboard from the main board using a soldering iron against the ground bracket on the main board-side.
  2. Next, use small plyers to straighten the fasteners from the metal bracket that surrounds the potentiometer.
  3. Once the fasceners are straight, the bracket should slide off of the daughterboard.
  4. Using a soldering iron and solder sucker or wick, remove the 5 solder points connecting the potentiometer to the daughter board.
  5. Applying pressure to the plastic clips, heat the leads on the potentiometer and slide it free of the daughter board. Clean the holes with wick or a solder sucker to make reinstallation easier.

Daughter board (left), and potentiometer/switch (right)
Daughter board (left), and potentiometer/switch (right)

Step 4: Repair the Potentiometer

Not all steps of this are pictured since I didn't want to open it back up after the repair succeeded.

Potentiometer with exterior rusting
Potentiometer with exterior rusting

  1. Clean any rust or dirt off of the outside of the potentiometer with alcohol and a cotton swab.
  2. Remove the melted plastic rivets that hold the plastic top to the ceramic base. Be careful to not crack the ceramic!
  3. Gently pull the ceramic base from the plastic top, with the plastic part facing down. There are many little parts that must stay in place.
  4. On the newly-exposed ceramic face, scrub once again with alcohol and a cotton swab. Be sure to not leave cotton fibers on the plate.
  5. Locate the metal brushes on the rotating platform. GENTLY bend these away from the rotating platform (towards where the ceramic plate used to be) so that they stick out slightly more than they did before. This will add pressure against the ceramic plate, giving them a better contact.
  6. Very gently rub the brush's contact surfaces with alcohol
  7. Put the potentiometer back together. Do not get skin oils on the brushes or contact plate inside.
  8. Using a hot glue gun or another form of adhesive, fix the ceramic plate back into place. Be careful to not create a gap between the ceramic plate and the plastic top. Test that the power switch still works before adhering. Do not apply adhesive between the layers!

Potentiometer reassembled, hot glue on 3 sides and all 4 original rivet points
Potentiometer reassembled, hot glue on 3 sides and all 4 original rivet points

Step 5: Reassemble The Radio

  1. Push the potentiometer contact pins back into the daughterboard, and with the plastic snaps pushed through the board, reapply solder to all 5 pins.
  2. Push the metal bracket over the potentiometer and back through the holes in the daughterboard. Twist the fasteners to hold it in place.
  3. Screw the front panel main board back to the front panel.
  4. Screw the daughter board back to the front panel, and let the ground bracket rest on the solder point on the main board. Careful to not forget the small metal bracket that goes over the top-most screw on the daughterboard.
  5. Using a soldering iron, reattach the ground bracket to the main board.
  6. Plug in the cable that attaches the daughterboard to the main board.
  7. Plug in the cable that attaches the body to the main board.
  8. Carefully slide the radio front plate back onto the radio body. Watch that the connectors near the bottom are lining up, and that the notches along the top of the body slide into the slots at the top of the front face.
  9. Insert the two set screws on either side of the front panel.
  10. Reinstall the volume knob.

Step 6: Test and Reinstall

Attach the radio to the antenna and control/power connectors, and test whether this repair has worked. If it has, slide the radio back into place on the center dashboard, and you're all set.

Do you like this repair, or are you having some trouble with it? Leave a comment below.

Written By: Erik W. Greif
Published: 04/26/2017 11:28 PST
Modified: 04/26/2017 11:28 PST
Article Title: Ford Radio Volume Repair
Article URL: http://bitfracture.com/?page=techarticles/ford_ranger_radio_volume_repair!techarticles
Website Title: Bit Fracture Online
Website URL: http://www.bitfracture.com
Media Type: Technical Instructions
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