How to Get Better Reception With a Car Antenna

Written by david lipscomb Google
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How to Get Better Reception With a Car Antenna
Improving reception on a car radio is typically a matter of ensuring that electrical connection integrity is as high as possible. (autoradio 2 image by Nathalie P from

Car antennas rely on the vehicle's chassis to act as a ground plane. Over time, these connections can become caked with corrosion and rust, compromising the integrity of the radio signal. Although access to the antenna's ground connection can prove tricky, the process of removing the accumulated contamination should not be. Once this is completed, radio reception should be back to normal, as strong as the incoming signal will allow.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Vehicle's instruction manual/schematic
  • Screwdrivers (Philips, flat head, Allen)
  • Socket wrench with inserts
  • Steel wool pad
  • Rust-dissolving solution
  • Sandpaper
  • Electrical tape
  • Clean cloth
  • Petroleum jelly

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  1. 1

    Consult the vehicle's instruction manual or schematic to determine the location of the vehicle's antenna and the point at which it's grounded to the chassis.

  2. 2

    Disconnect the negative battery terminal by using the socket wrench and appropriate insert. Secure the loose connector with a couple passes of electrical tape.

  3. 3

    Disconnect the antenna ground using the appropriate screwdriver, socket wrench or combination of the two. It may be necessary to apply a rust-inhibiting liquid to the connection if it is corroded in place. Let the liquid sit for a few minutes if this is the case. Clean the bolts and/or screws for the antenna ground with the rust-inhibiting liquid and steel wool, and set them aside in a safe place. They will not be needed until the antenna's ground is reattached to the vehicle.

  4. 4

    Clean the connectors with rust inhibiting liquid and sandpaper, making them as clean and contaminant-free as possible. Apply the rust inhibitor to the steel wool and rub the actual ground connection point firmly until bare metal is exposed.

  5. 5

    Wipe off any liquid and contaminants from the grounding point with the clean cloth. Ensure the point is thoroughly dry, and re-affix the antenna's grounding hardware back to the bare metal. Tighten the connection as much as possible. Apply a dab or petroleum jelly to the connection to inhibit further corrosion.

  6. 6

    Re-attach the negative battery cable with the socket wrench and appropriate insert.

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