How to Fix a Car Radio that Got Wet?

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Wet car radios can be fixed by mopping water off the affected areas or Air-Drying. In some instances where damage is too bad, the radio may need to be totally replaced. Car radios are susceptible to harmful exposure to water either due to human errors, natural causes, or faulty equipment. And, if not handled properly, this can cause severe damage to your equipment. 

This comprehensive guide details how you can fix a wet car radio, along with measures to protect your equipment from water.

  1. Mop water off the affected areas
  2. Air-Drying (Hairdryer)
  3. Replace radio equipment

Just don’t be like this guy:

Flooded van and stereo

If you’ve never experienced the misfortune of getting your vehicle’s interior wet, and by extension, the radio and speakers drenched in water, then you’re pretty lucky. But unfortunately, getting rid of water from car radio components such as the head unit and speakers can be tedious and time-consuming, and in some cases, damage done by water to these parts is irreversible.

How to Fix a Car Radio that Got Wet?

Without further ado, here are some common methods by which you can fix your car radio, and other components of your stereo system that have been affected by water:

Always disconnect the battery when adjusting vehicle electronics 

1. Mopping water off the affected areas

The first troubleshooting technique you should try when you have a wet car radio is to detach the affected area and then gently mop off the water using a dry, soft cloth. Also, ensure you take time to properly detach each component before drying, as you could cause further damage if you were to just yank them out.

2. Air-Drying

Alternatively, you could dry a wet car radio or speaker by blowing hot air over the affected areas. And you could do this with a hairdryer or a fan. For speakers, ensure to pay extra attention to the magnet and terminals, as these are typical, their most sensitive parts.

3. Complete overhaul of your car stereo system

In some extreme cases, the damage done by water on your radio system is irreversible. And in such situations, the only way you can enjoy music in your car again is by removing the water-damaged parts and installing new components. The replacement process may be too technical to carry out on your own, so it may be best to seek professional help.

If you do require help, we have a number of guides relating to head unit installation and how much it should cost.

Flooded cars

How Do Car Radios get Wet?

Let’s take a look at some ways it can come in contact with moisture in the first place.

Typically, car speakers and other components of the radio system are designed for use inside the vehicle, where there is considerable protection from water. However, due to either human errors, mechanical faults, or a combination of both, your equipment might be exposed to moisture from time to time. Additionally, your car radio could get in contact with water due to:

Weak door and window seals

These rubber seals are designed to keep water out, but they tend to wear out and slack over time. This, in turn, leads to greater porosity when it comes to letting water into the car. And if there are no protective panels over sensitive components of your car stereo system, such water can cause serious damage to your radio.

What are the implications of a wet car radio?

The problems associated with a wet car radio vary, and they range from complete destruction of your stereo system to sound distortion when playing music in your vehicle. That said, here are some of the possible challenges you could face when your car radio is regularly exposed to moisture:

  • Muffled sounds from your speaker, even at high volumes!
  • Sound distortion.
  • Cracked speaker cones.
  • Damage to the amplifier or electrical parts of the radio’s head unit.

How to Prevent your Car Radio from Getting Wet?

It is said that prevention is better than cure, and you can, most times, save yourself from the hassle of drying out a car radio by putting strict preventive measures to protect your equipment from moisture. This, you can do by:

1. Keeping the door seals clean

To prevent water from seeping into your vehicle via the gaps in the door, ensure you regularly lubricate the door seals and keep them clean. A porous door gap is a gateway to water, and this can be potentially devastating to your car radio.

2. Waterproofing your subwoofer

Another precautionary method you can take to protect your car’s speaker from water is to coat your equipment with special, non-porous material such as a high-gloss polymer. If you have no idea how to go about waterproofing your subwoofer, below is a YouTube video detailing the process.

3. Using an AC, if you have one

It might sound awkward, but you can protect your radio system from moisture damage by occasionally using the vehicle’s air conditioning system. And not only do ACs help regulate your vehicle’s temperature, but they also dry water moisture present in the car.

4. Installing speaker baffles

If you have no idea what these are, baffles are specially designed foam covers intended to protect your car radio and speakers from water damage. Once a baffle is fixed on your speaker or head unit, it serves as the first line of defense and repels dripping water before it can cause damage to your equipment.

 

Water in-car Speaker: Car Speaker Got Wet

Cones are super important parts of speakers/subwoofers that directly influence the quality of sound you hear from your car radio. However, a cone is made from delicate material; it might not return to its previous form after coming in contact with water, negatively impacting sound quality.

The good news is; you can fix speaker cones that crack after drying by following these simple steps:

  1. First, detach the speakers from their current position.
  2. Then, gently mop water off the cone with a damp cloth.
  3. Prepare patches to cover the cracked areas of the cone – this could be from paper towels, for instance. Ideally, the patch should be cut from materials similar to the cone.
  4. Coat the area surrounding a crack on both the top and bottom ends with glue.
  5. Coat one face of the patches with glue and gently press them over the crack on both sides.
  6. Leave the speaker to dry in a well-ventilated area.

 

The above process is only applicable for paper cones, and if your speaker uses plastic cones, then you should use plastic patches instead.

Conclusion

In many instances, water damage to your car radio can render it unusable and will not even enable it to power on. However, for small levels of water damage mopping the water off and even using a hairdryer may effectively save your radio.

It’s worth noting that electrical damage from water can spread from a different original damaged component, so even if just the disk drive is damaged, it could still affect other electrical components in the radio.

Best of Luck!

Alex
Alex

I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system!

Founder
StereoUpgrade.com

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