Monday, November 21, 2011

How to fix your car radio after 11 months of silence

Last Christmas Hazel (my 2004 Honda Odyssey) needed a new battery.  As is the case these days, when you unplug the battery the radio shuts down and you have to put in a code to make it work again. When I bought Hazel she didn't have an owner's manual and I had no idea where the code would be.  According to the interwebs it's supposed to be on a label inside the glovebox.  Nope, not there.  I looked through all my papers from Carmax and couldn't find it either.  Then I resorted to using a flashlight and trying any numbers I found on any labels anywhere I could find on the car. No luck.

On the Honda website you can type in your vehicle's VIN and I can't remember what else and they'll give it to you.  The problem with that was I was not listed as the owner of the vehicle.  So I had to wait until their very specific customer service hours and call.  The  man tried to be helpful and he suggested all the things I'd already tried thanks to the help of the Google.  Finally he said, "I'm sorry, 2004 was the year before we started keeping the numbers here in our database. My only suggestion is to take off the dash and write down every five digit number you see and try them." That's a pretty expensive option at the dealer.

I gave up trying for almost a year.  Richard and I looked up taking off the dash and it seems pretty complicated and like you could break any number of things in the process.  Yesterday was fix-it day and he was willing to try again. We did succeed in taking off the part of the dash around the radio without breaking it.  The sticking point was removing the connection for the indoor dimmer - it was locked in somehow and no amount of squeezing or pulling was getting it disconnected (it was that or the airbag button and I'm not messing with the airbag connection).  Richard went inside to look up what to do next while I decided to have one last look through the glovebox.

As I'm digging around looking for labels stuck to the inside I notice a little plastic pouch that has a card in it.  Oh shit. Guess what the card said? Radio code. I have no idea how I missed it.  I don't know how often I've looked in that damn thing!  I went in to show Richard, worried he would be mad, and he laughed so hard! His only comment was, "Now we can fix it!"

The funny thing is that after 11 months without a radio, I keep forgetting to turn it on.  At least I'll be able to listed to music through the iPod again.  The only radio I listen to is NPR and sometimes I just want music.

So really, the only way to fix your car radio is to find the code. Check the glovebox. I bet it's in there.

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