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How To: Replace bulbs in radio

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So, I try to make initial posts in forums actually useful :).


I've read the FAQs, and realized some links to the bulb replacement guide were dead.


So here is my walk-through on replacing burned out bulbs in a radio display.


The car is a 93 Impreza L AWD, but the radio is out of a 98 Outback. A friend gave me the radio for free. So for those that ask "why repair when you can just buy a new radio?" I say "because $4 is less than $125". Unless you want to give me the cash to get a new radio.


With that out of the way...on to the guide. And I apologize in advance...all I had was my iPhone camera on me.


The entire process took me about 10-20 minutes of taking my time. This doesn't include the removal/installation of the actual radio.



Here are the bulbs needed: Radio Shack #7219. They ran $3.90 for two packages.




Here is the "before" shot. It was too bright out to show the burned out bulbs with the faceplate on, so I removed it to take this. I'll get to showing how to remove the faceplate soon...




And here is the actual radio being worked on:




I first started with just popping the left side clip:




Then I just worked my way around with a small flat-bladed screwdriver working the faceplate loose:





Make sure to remove the small screw on the left side...that holds the LCD display against the radio housing:



And make sure to pop off the volume/power knob. It's the only knob you need to remove the faceplate. The others pop right through it:




Now with the faceplate off and face down, it looks like this. There are two small screws holding the faceplate to the circuit board (notice the two screws are in holes marked with hash-marks):





Once the screws are out, you can simply (carefully) pop out the circuit board:




The bulb sockets are held on by solder. Here are the backside of the connections on the board (circled in red):




Here is the front of the board, with the 4 bulb sockets soldered to the board. Notice the electrical connector on the back of the board near the STOP-EJ/FF/RPT buttons. This connector and the screw near the LCD display are some of the things holding the board/faceplate onto the radio housing (well...plus the faceplate tabs).




Here is a closeup of the bulb/socket in original form.




Once the solder is heated and removed from the back of the board for the sockets, they look like this:



To remove the bulbs from the sockets, I just used a small sharp pocket-knife to cut the actual wire lead of the bulb (not the large silver terminal of the socket, but it's a very small copper wire lead).


Once removed, the bulbs just pull right out. I then pulled off the green rubbery covers and popped those on the new bulbs. I inserted the new bulbs with the long leads, and wrapped the leads up to where the terminals were. I then placed a small drop of solder to hold them on, and the snipped off the excess lead wire of the new bulbs.


Once on the sockets, I inserted the socket back into the board and re-soldered them.



And here is the finished result (before snapping back on the faceplate). I did this test to make sure it was all working properly before going through the reinstallation:




One important note: when doing this repair, pay attention to how tall the bulb/socket is. If you make too much solder, it will interfere with the faceplate. There is an easy solution to that though...you can ream out the faceplate where the bulb sits to make sure there is clearance.


When installing the board back onto the faceplate, it should easily snap in and the LCD will be flush with the faceplate.

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Nice work record, this is a long lasting fix to a common problem


Great first post!

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Awesome I have seen a growing number of these with this problem recently and coupled with the climate control bulb fix this is pretty cool. It would look stupid to have all the climate control bulbs fixed and not the radio.

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