I’ve had an urge to upgrade my radio in my 1999 Ford Ranger, my dedicated winter vehicle. Fortunately my car which comes out in the summer has a system I am now yearning to live without: Auxiliary input. Seeing as I spend enough on upgrades for my car, I set out to a budget approach for the Ranger.
I figure, there must be a way to tap into the radio with my own audio signal, at some point before it hits the amplifier. Sure enough, someone beat me to it. Unfortunately however, I was unclear on the whole process especially since my radio was not the same configuration. Here I will give a quick explanation. Unfortunately I only have a few pictures and tips to add.
- Soldering Gun/Solder
- Torx screwdriver
- 3.5mm audio cable
- Some form of wire strippers (be it side cutters/wire stripper/knife)
Disclaimer: I would only do this as a last resort to buying a new Radio, it is easy to break this unit if it is not done correctly. Soldering wires onto the board takes some precision!
My Ranger in particular is a 1999. I believe most fords will have the same idea for radio removal. Ultimately removal was actually the hardest part as I didn’t know what to expect. A second time around would be a breeze! I opted to keep budget extremely low so I did not go about looking for a Ford radio special removal tool. A cut up coat hanger worked for me. Essentially you need to find a thick coat hanger, and cut it up to form two tools for each side of the radio.
The above video should be watched to understand the lever locking mechanic and what the coat hanger wires actually do. The wires have to be pushed outward (left side towards drive side, right side towards passenger side).
Even though this had looked easy at a glance, it gave me a hard time. Coat hangers are generally not stiff enough. I had tried repeatedly and it felt like any more pressure would bend the hangers. In the end I had realized that even though the coat hangers feel like they are giving, going a bit more than you think they can handle gave me just enough leverage to unlock the clips. A second person here is VERY useful.One thing I did was grab a very small, thin and flat pry bar with a sharply curved end (a small typical crow bar will not work) and hooked it into the CD player mouth of the radio. A LIGHT pull can be used with this while the other person uses the hanger wires.
I still managed to do it myself by doing one side at a time (one hanger in one hand, pry bar used to keep constant pull with other), and very carefully did both sides. Any forward pressure on radio would clip in the side just pulled out a bit with an audible click.
The antenna wire at the back (black/thick) can be pulled straight out. The wire harness is removed fairly easy, just make sure the tab is pushed in when pulling it out.
Opening up Radio
A Torx screwdriver kit WILL be needed as these aren’t typical philips/slot screwdriver screws. The screws needed to be removed to take the upper casing off should be fairly obvious. After having the top off you will be greeted with this:
Continue removing screws to remove the CD player. It will be attached by a ribbon cable. The ribbon detaches from the base board after loosening a clip (will need a small flathead to push outwards on the two sides to release the ribbon).
Wiring up the AUX cable
What threw me off was that my radio was different than that of the pictures of the article I first linked to. I did not have any fancy wording on the PCB. At least that was until I decided to trek further.
The above picture from the article I was referencing had everything labelled on the PCB. When I went further, I removed the PCB on the picture above, at least enough to flip it around, and sure enough I struck a fully labelled PCB board seen below:
I simply found ROUT and LOUT, cut an end of my 3.5MM cable and tinned the ends of the red and white wires, then very carefully one at a time placed them on the right spot, and heated just enough for the solder on the wire and pcb to meld together. The red wire will goto ROUT. The grounding strands I twisted together and just ran it to somewhere on the cd player housing to ground it.
Not done yet
Be very careful to not put much stress on the wiring. Tape up any exposed connections on the wires (such as the ground wire, it should only make contact at the point it connects to the housing). I ended up drilling a hole in the back of the main radio housing, above the Antenna wire input. Be sure to run the aux wire with care to not get in the way of moving parts of the CD player.
In the original article Sambuchi used a relay. This was done to cut off the CD from playing music along with the Aux In. I opted for a simpler approach, and just burnt a silent CD track. I burnt a 30 minute silent track to a CD from from this helpful website.