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 Radio with a mind of its own.

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PostSubject: Radio with a mind of its own.   Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:08 pm

Ok the problem started last summer with my 1995 Riviera the radio stations would change on there own while just driving. Then any time I hit the seek button on the steering control they would change randomly from fm1, fm2, am about 2 or 3 cycles. Now there is no power to the radio, the fuse at the side of the dash is ok and all fuses under the back seat seem fine. Could there be a relay for the unit because when I disconnect the negative on the battery and reconnect it the radio starts to work and the display and all conntrols operate fine for about 5 min then nothing again. When this happens Im not even able to set the temp at the steering control but the main temp switch works fine. but still no radio untill I disconnect the battery again then all fine for 5 min. dose this sound like the radio is done or maybe a relay somewhere? Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated as this is driving me nuts. Thanks Ray.
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:24 am

I would suspect a bad radio... However GM wires so much together nowadays....

But step one would be replace the radio. Perhaps a compenent has finally gone kaput! I think even though you turn the radio off, it's still connected to the entire system. And by unplugging the battery it breaks that connection and maybe something cools down. Then you plug it back in, and bam.... heats up and starts over again.

I would definately replace the head unit. Looks like a junkyard visit (which may not be a bad thing, I love salvage yards!)

Good luck!
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:10 pm


I know this is an old thread, but it sounds very similar to the oddball things my 95 AM/FM/Cassette head unit is doing.

Mine is a little different, but in the ballpark.

Every so often it simply won't turn on. I first discovered this after programming my two new security remotes, but it could have been flakey before as I had just gotten the car and hadn't spent any real time with it. But just like the example above, every so often the radio just will not turn on, regardless of the ignition setting, accessory or "on". But a disconnect and reconnect of the battery will get it back happy.

Today it pulled a really weird one. It was playing, then all of the sudden I noticed that none of the controls had any effect on the radio or steering wheel. I couldn't turn the volume up or down, no tone adjustment, no station change, nada. So I turned the car off and on. The radio stopped playing but it the display would not go out. I pulled the 10A "radio" fuse, and no effect, it stayed on.

Also tried opening/closing the door and locking/unlocking and arming/disarming the security system, but even after the dome lights timed out, the radio display stayed on.

I went under the back seat and pulled various fuses, nada, until I got to the "60A Elec/I/P" fuse. That killed it. That's not to say another fuse/relay wouldn't have as well, but this was the first I got to that did the job, but I had pulled most of the rest by then.

Of course I could have disconnected the battery again, but was hoping to track down the related circuit.

Any clue based on the behavior or the fuse I pulled? I can sort of see not powering on, but not being able to turn off? Strange.

I coincidentally got an AM/FM/CD unit from a 94 Park Avenue Ultra today from a wrecking yard, so I can test with that. But this is so intermittent.... odd.

Al

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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:05 am

In past posts I have told of my wacky radio. Not exactly the same but close enough. It pretty much does what it wants on its own in my 95 sc. For a short time it even kept playing after I killed the ignition and got out of the car. It did shut off when I hit the power button before I killed the ignition. I was afraid I was going to have to disconnect the battery at night but the power button worked and now the problem no longer exists, at least for now. It still changes stations on its own and sometimes will not let me control it from the steering wheel controls. It is pretty much haunted.
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:23 am


Well at least I'm glad to hear that I'm not alone wink


I'm going to try to install the CD player version from a Park Avenue Ultra I pulled yesterday from a junk yard and first we'll see if it works at all, and if so if these weird phantom behaviors remain.

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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:25 am

My '95 has had similar issues over the last couple of years, a little bit different but similar. I have never had any of the power problems; it always turns on and off as advertised. Mine will on occasion adjust the bands and then the steering wheel controls will not work to adjust it back. And, sometimes the buttons on the steering wheel will do different things Ö pushing the Temp-up button will adjust the volume down on the radio. Last summer I was getting a burning wire smell, at times, coming from the steering wheel, I was able to determine it was only when I had the radio on. I removed the airbag and checked the wiring as best I could under it, checked everything visible under the airbag including the switches and even cut into the insulation, and could not find any burned or split wires. I must have adjusted/moved the harness enough to keep it from burning/shorting because I donít get that anymore, so far anyway, but it still does some adjustments on its own and the steering wheel controls are hit or miss. I may try and look into it again this year but am afraid I am going to have to pull the steering wheel off and get to the complete wiring harness and check it out.
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:21 am

@ all of you: these sound like wiring issues primarily and maybe wearout of the steeringwheel controls.

To diagnose pull the clamshell off the steering column and the underdash panel so you can see all the wires. Use the key to unlock steering wheel. Jack up front of car to get wheels off ground, turn wheel fromside to side looking at wires. Look for wires that chafe against the column or brackets.

The steering wheel controls signal by voltage - there is only 1 control line and control is achieved by putting a voltage on that line at one or another resistance dep on which steering wheel paddle is pushed. Use a factory manual for the wiring diagram to see what line that is. As for the switches themselves, they could be bad. As was pointed out above the radio could be bad. United radio in Syracuse ny is among many shops that can fix these radios for a reasonable price. Use a search tool to find their web site. They sell to the trade but will take private repairs if you play by their rules.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:00 pm

albertj wrote:
@ all of you: these sound like wiring issues primarily and maybe wearout of the steeringwheel controls.

Albertj


....could be of course, but I'll just point out that my radio will "flash" and then "reboot" every so often without any steering wheel input/turning and not driving as well. So hopefully it is just the radio as I plan to change it out for a refurbished CD HU anyway. I'd hate to have to dive into the harness.

Al
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:06 pm

al_roethlisberger wrote:
albertj wrote:
@ all of you: these sound like wiring issues primarily and maybe wearout of the steeringwheel controls.

Albertj


....could be of course, but I'll just point out that my radio will "flash" and then "reboot" every so often without any steering wheel input/turning and not driving as well. So hopefully it is just the radio as I plan to change it out for a refurbished CD HU anyway. I'd hate to have to dive into the harness.

Al

Flash and reboot means, probably, an intermittent in the wiring harness, either the always-on +12v line or the grounds. Could be as simple as a loose connector, or PO had an aftermarket radio in there spliced in, switched back and now splices are loose.
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:58 pm


Yep, hard to say.... hope to know more once I take the current one out and and swap in the AM/FM/CD. Would be nice if just reinserting the plugs and a little dexoit clears it up.

Al
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:45 pm

OK, some more data..... I had the radio "freeze up" again today while driving, unfortunately on a half-tuned jazz station that drifted into some shout-talk-radio and static, at relatively high volume with 30 minutes left in my drive rolleyes So I decided to put that time to work and do some experimenting.

So here is what I observed:

1) All head unit radio controls cease to respond. The radio is still playing on the FM station at the same volume. I can't adjust any controls, volume, tone, fader, balance, tuner. All frozen. I did not have an opportunity to test a cassette to see if that would break it into working, so I can't speak to that, but I suspect it wouldn't have made any difference. The display shows the time and volume level as normal.

2) Steering wheel controls for the radio and HVAC unit no longer had any effect.

3) Controls on the HVAC unit itself work fine.

4) When I turn on the headlights, all dash lights dim and adjust normally, except for the radio and HVAC control unit which stay full on daylight bright.

5) When I turn off the ignition, everything in the car turns of as normal, except the time display of the radio. At this point the program (sound) from the radio ceases and the display now shows the time. Even when the door is opened/closed and alarm armed the display remains showing the clock. Starting and stopping the car does not return the steering wheel functions and the radio will still not respond to its controls, and therefore will not turn back on, although it is displaying the time. The lights on the HVAC and radio still will not dim when the headlights are turned on.


As before, the only way I've discovered to clear this problem is to disconnect the battery. Or I can pull the "60A Elec/I/P" fuse.

So as pointed out by others, this may indeed be a wiring issue in the steering wheel from the steering wheel controls.

But I also wonder, is there some common control module that these controls interface with, or some other control module that could be failing that might exhibit these symptoms?

It is interesting that disconnecting the battery or the "60A Elec/I/P" fuse clears this as if some relay is stuck or some module is confused/stuck?

Hopefully I'll have some time this weekend to check the wires in the column and try the other radio I have as well.

Thoughts?
Al
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:23 pm



For example, Morad has the following part:

95 96 BUICK RIVIERA AURORA Steering Control Module 16219980

http://stores.ebay.com/Morad-Parts-Company/_i.html?rt=nc&_nkw=riviera&_sid=38997246

Now, that sounds interesting. Is this a control module for the "steering" or for the steering wheel controls? If the latter, makes one wonder if that may be a common shared component.

Any idea what this is?

Thanks,
Al
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:00 pm


OK, after some other research, I don't think that module in the prior post is related.

However, I was reading a thread here on the steering wheel controls, and it was mentioned and I have confirmed that the steering wheel controls go through the "clockspring". Do these wear out often? I wonder if that may be the culprit, and wonder how one might test.

.....the plot thickens.

Al
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Wed May 01, 2013 10:44 pm

My radio is at it again today in my 95 Rivsc. I haven't used the car for a couple of weeks and today I went to a salvage yard. When I got out of the car the radio shut off, as it should. When I returned the radio was playing. On the way to the yard the volume control on the wheel did not function as a volume control but it did change the station. Anyway, as of now the only way to turn the radio off is by using the power switch and the clock stays lit up no matter what . Just so you know.
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Sun May 05, 2013 7:57 pm


OK, I've "given it a week" so as not to jinx myself, but after changing out the original radio with another from a salvage yard last Sunday, I've driven for a week with no more phantom radio problems. So it appears in my case that the issue with the radio "flashing", "rebooting" and "hanging" in a weird half-powered state were somehow tied to the radio itself being defective.

That's certainly good news if it lasts, as it saves tracking down a problem in the harness or some other relay somewhere. If it continued, my next suspect was the clockspring which is $50-60 used, and $160 new.

So, although it may not be a fix for everyone, if you are having these problems I'd recommend finding a head unit from another 95 or similar LeSabre/Park Avenue and swap it out as an initial test. The am/fm/cass units are usually around $15-20 from a salvage yard, and the am/fm/cd (rare) units are usually around $30.

Take care though, there are a number of these similar looking head units to the 95 in various Buicks from the late 80s through mid 90s that will plug up but may only partially be compatible. For example if you have steering wheel controls, even if the donor car had them, they probably won't work correctly.

The two radio model numbers for the 95 Riviera are 16200314 which is the am/fm/cassette version and 16200324 which is the am/fm/cd (integrated, not slave CD) version. These model/part numbers are on the radio chassis itself, on at least one decal, and usually two.

Good luck with your troubleshooting. Hope it turns out to be something this simple. Given the low cost, I'd definitely give it a try.

Al
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Tue May 07, 2013 1:08 am

On May 1st I wrote that my radio, even after shutting the car down, displayed the time. I went out that night, a few hours later, to see if the time was still being displayed and found that it was. I thought about disconnecting the battery so that it would not be dead the next time I wanted to use the car but left it the way it was. Yesterday, May 6th, I went out to get something out of the Riv and the time was no longer displayed. I figured the battery must be dead so I gave it a shot with the key and it started right up. When I shut it down the time was no longer displayed. Go figure.
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PostSubject: Re: Radio with a mind of its own.   Tue May 07, 2013 6:00 pm



.... yep, same experience (among many other radio phantoms) here with mine.

First and cheapest step, replace the radio. It may take a while to find one, but you should be able to get the AM/FM/Cassette head unit from a wrecking yard for $15 if you pull it. It would probably be more from a full service yard, but I can't imagine it would be much more for a cassette unit.

The Riviera specific AM/FM/CD head unit from a 95 is a little more unobtanium-ish, but out there. Again, a "self service" yard will probably charge you around $30 for it, and likely a bit more from a regular yard.

See this thread for more info on the right part numbers for the radios:

http://rivperformance.editboard.com/t9962-best-option-to-add-cd-to-95-riviera-and-keep-things-stock


But I bet that fixes your problem.

Al
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