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Old 03-05-2013, 10:22 PM   #1
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Radio static issue...

I've been having from problems recently with really bad static coming through my radio fm/am when my jeep is ON. When it is just turned to the accessory switch and the engine is not running, the static isn't there. It just started happening recently, but it never did I it before.. I do have an aftermakrekt dual head unit, I've checked the antenna connection to the back of the radio as well.. Any suggestions on what might be causing this?? It's killin me! Thanks guys

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Old 03-06-2013, 09:40 AM   #2
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I'm no expert and kinda guessing here, but it sounds like a bad ground somewhere. Also sounds like you have a short on something electrical since it changes when you turn the switch. Finding it will be fun.

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Old 03-06-2013, 09:49 AM   #3
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Engine static in the radio only when the engine is running is most commonly caused by the ignition/spark system having been modified from what the factory installed. Have you recently changed to aftermarket "performance" or "low-resistance" ignition wiring or installed non-resistor spark plugs?
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Old 03-06-2013, 09:50 AM   #4
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X2 on a ground issue. I would check all of them first.
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:23 AM   #5
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Is it static or engine whine? Does the static sound change when you rev the engine? If so, engine whine can be fixed with an inexpensive ground loop isolator.
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:32 AM   #6
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Def going to be a ground issue. I would check your stereo ground. If it's not grounded to the frame, I would seriously think about doing that. Pull one of your bolts that connected to the metal of the body (not one that goes into the dash or plastic anywhere), sand down the paint off of it, replace your factory ground wire with a nice 10 or 12 gauge grounding wire, clamp a stud ring wire connector to the end, and run the bolt through. Generally this will fix the problem. If it doesn't, check your speaker wires. This is easily done by turning your jeep on then unplug each speaker individually from the terminal on the speaker and see which one is the culprit. Once you have done that, replace the speaker wire and you should be good to go!
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Old 03-06-2013, 02:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
Engine static in the radio only when the engine is running is most commonly caused by the ignition/spark system having been modified from what the factory installed. Have you recently changed to aftermarket "performance" or "low-resistance" ignition wiring or installed non-resistor spark plugs?
I haven't replaced anything lately, plugs went in about a month ago but the static started recently.
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Old 03-06-2013, 02:48 PM   #8
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Is it static or engine whine? Does the static sound change when you rev the engine? If so, engine whine can be fixed with an inexpensive ground loop isolator.
The static comes on and off, sometimes worse than others. It bounces on and off as I'm driving but no static when the engine is off and I just have the radio on
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Old 03-06-2013, 03:55 PM   #9
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Simple solution/test?

Yank your head unit out and cut the ground coming off the harness so that you have enough to work with to replace it later.

Splice the end coming off your harness and twist a length of similar gauge wire into it. Then run it through your firewall and twist it around the battery's negative/black/ground terminal.

Drive around for a bit and see if you get any problems with that. Basically you're just bypassing the ground for that circuit and going directly to the battery.

If it works just fine, you know that there's a bad ground in that circuit. If it still sounds fucky, then you know that the ground is fine and something else is wrong.

There might possibly be another way to test this out using a multitool, but I don't know it and would have to google it. I also hate my multitool. Needs a new damn battery every time I use it (I just always leave it on by accident).

If you want, I have wiring diagrams for all Jeeps and repair manuals. Shoot me a PM and I can get you what you need.
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Old 03-06-2013, 04:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by florida4X4wrangler View Post
The static comes on and off, sometimes worse than others. It bounces on and off as I'm driving but no static when the engine is off and I just have the radio on
Just when you're listening to AM radio stations?
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Old 03-06-2013, 07:16 PM   #11
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Simple solution/test?

Yank your head unit out and cut the ground coming off the harness so that you have enough to work with to replace it later.

Splice the end coming off your harness and twist a length of similar gauge wire into it. Then run it through your firewall and twist it around the battery's negative/black/ground terminal.

Drive around for a bit and see if you get any problems with that. Basically you're just bypassing the ground for that circuit and going directly to the battery.

If it works just fine, you know that there's a bad ground in that circuit. If it still sounds fucky, then you know that the ground is fine and something else is wrong.

There might possibly be another way to test this out using a multitool, but I don't know it and would have to google it. I also hate my multitool. Needs a new damn battery every time I use it (I just always leave it on by accident).

If you want, I have wiring diagrams for all Jeeps and repair manuals. Shoot me a PM and I can get you what you need.
Thanks man! Ill go ahead and give it a shot tomorrow and let you know
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Old 03-06-2013, 07:16 PM   #12
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Just when you're listening to AM radio stations?
Haven't really tried am just fm forsure
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:47 PM   #13
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Got an update.. Haven't had much luck with the static.. I replaced the ground wire that runs to the head unit and still is static, but the stations come in clear as day when the engine isn't on! When I start the engine, the static comes back? What could it be???
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:51 PM   #14
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Do you know the exact model spark plug you installed & whether your ignition wiring is aftermarket or OE?

And the sound you are describing as static... that's a sharp ticking/popping sound that rises & falls in direct step with the engine RPMs and not a whine right?
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:00 PM   #15
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Do you have something plugged into the power outlet? Whenever I'm charging a phone, I get horrible static from my head unit while listening to AM/FM. I haven't been able to figure it out. If not, maybe it's bad wiring in that part of the Jeep?
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:17 PM   #16
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Some chargers have very noisy electrical circuitry that will be picked up by both the AM and FM sides of a radio, some of my various cellphone/GPS electrical chargers/power cords are like that.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:26 PM   #17
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Hah. Never thought to try a different cable.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:14 PM   #18
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I would second Jerry's spark plug theory. High performance plugs can certainly cause issues with radio reception, but this is most commonly found on AM. I have heard of a few cases where plug wires were loose or frayed and caused the noise on FM as well. If you just recently had the plugs replaced, there is a decent chance that one of the wires wasn't connected well. After a bit of use, it worked itself loose and all of a sudden you get noise. I can't see it being something with a ground wire, alternator whine or a ground loop would give you different symptoms - though if you haven't already, ensure the radio antenna is secure and grounded well.
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:16 PM   #19
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Do you know the exact model spark plug you installed & whether your ignition wiring is aftermarket or OE?

And the sound you are describing as static... that's a sharp ticking/popping sound that rises & falls in direct step with the engine RPMs and not a whine right?
I will check which plugs I have tomorrow because I just recently changed them, couldn't be anything to do with my offroad lights I just installed right?

How would I also tell if my ignition wiring is stock?
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:18 PM   #20
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I would second Jerry's spark plug theory. High performance plugs can certainly cause issues with radio reception, but this is most commonly found on AM. I have heard of a few cases where plug wires were loose or frayed and caused the noise on FM as well. If you just recently had the plugs replaced, there is a decent chance that one of the wires wasn't connected well. After a bit of use, it worked itself loose and all of a sudden you get noise. I can't see it being something with a ground wire, alternator whine or a ground loop would give you different symptoms - though if you haven't already, ensure the radio antenna is secure and grounded well.
Does my antenna ground to somewhere on my firewall?
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:06 AM   #21
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If this is a whining sound, it could be the alternator.
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Old 03-20-2013, 06:36 AM   #22
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If this is a whining sound, it could be the alternator.
It's straight static from my radio, like the channels don't come in clearly. Example would be your on the highway switching radio towers and the channels aren't coming in clearly
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Old 03-20-2013, 04:51 PM   #23
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I will check which plugs I have tomorrow because I just recently changed them, couldn't be anything to do with my offroad lights I just installed right?

How would I also tell if my ignition wiring is stock?
The clincher is that it only happens when the engine is running. If you turn the key forward to the RUN position without starting the engine, you are powering up all the same things that would be on whenever the engine is running. That makes it pretty unlikely it's anything other than the ignition system. If the lights you installed work with the key in RUN regardless of if the engine is running or not, they shouldn't have anything to do with it.

The antenna should be grounded through the body where it's mounted. Just make sure nothing is loose or overly corroded on the base or mount and you should be good. Honestly, that probably has nothing to do with it if stations come in clear sometimes.
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Old 03-20-2013, 05:04 PM   #24
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The clincher is that it only happens when the engine is running. If you turn the key forward to the RUN position without starting the engine, you are powering up all the same things that would be on whenever the engine is running. That makes it pretty unlikely it's anything other than the ignition system. If the lights you installed work with the key in RUN regardless of if the engine is running or not, they shouldn't have anything to do with it.

The antenna should be grounded through the body where it's mounted. Just make sure nothing is loose or overly corroded on the base or mount and you should be good. Honestly, that probably has nothing to do with it if stations come in clear sometimes.
How could I check the ignition system? Is it a possibility it's my head unit itself? Wish I still had my stock radio to try it out..
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:01 AM   #25
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You could take the belt off the alternator and see if there is an improvement. At least that would eliminate that possibility. Also make sure the hood has a ground strap.
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:09 AM   #26
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Go to Radio Shack and buy a Ground Loop Isolator. It is cheap and installs easily.
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:24 AM   #27
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Go to Radio Shack and buy a Ground Loop Isolator. It is cheap and installs easily.
What would this do? How do I install it?
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:45 AM   #28
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Ground loops are not something you need to cure via an add-on ground loop isolator. Not to mention it is not easy to achieve a ground loop in a Jeep. Simply grounding items like radios etc. directly to the tub, chassis, or closest factory ground point will eliminate the possibility of a ground loop. Ground loops occur when two items that are supposed to be connected to a common ground are not & a voltage difference between their ground points exist. Simply directly grounding directly to the tub, chassis, etc. easily eliminates the potential for a ground loop condition.
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:25 PM   #29
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Very definately it could be those lights you put on if they are HID lights. I have two HID lights on windshield mounts and I cannot use the radio when they are on, the electric arc makes static (random RF). I can even hear it when playing a CD, the HID ballast is about 2" from the radio antenna.

The other possibility is leaky ignition wires. I don't know what year Wrangler you have, but if you have an older ('97-'99) model with a distributor, try going into a dark garage, and looking for blue sparks leaking from a high tension lead. If you have a newer Jeep ('00-'06) with coil packs and no distributor, try carefully removing the coil rail, clean the rubber boots and the porcelan spark plug insulators, and put a dab of dielectric grease on each plug, then carefully reinstall the coil rail. I don't usually reccomend swapping a $120 coil rail as a diagnostic, but if nothing else fixes it, you should try that.
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:57 PM   #30
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...if you have a distributor, a bad rotor or cap will cause noise. Look at the carbon contact on center inside the cap. And look at the rotor for carbon tracks across the plastic. These issues will cause noise, and will cause engine problems.

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