What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?
Illustration for article titled Jaaaaaaaag audio woes and troubleshooting

So... As expected there are some problems with the Jag that I neither anticipated nor expected to be this difficult or expensive to repair. In this case, it is a problem with the radio. Specifically, with the audio cutting out.

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“ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS!? IN A BRITISH CAR!?” I hear you exclaim. First ever recorded event of them, I know. Next thing I’ll tell you is my Alfa has all sorts of weird electrical problems.

Annoyingly, the radio didn’t act up during the test drive or on the drive home, though once I left Saint Louis I switched to a Bluetooth speaker. In fact, the first time I noticed the problem was after I removed the amp and changer in an attempt to fix the changer. Naturally, my first suspicion was that I’d messed something up when reattaching/ reinstalling the assembly. However, after checking all the connections and fiber cables, I don’t see any problems. Furthermore, I giggled everything with the audio going and couldn’t make it mess up.

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The plot thickened when, after giving up on the CD changer, I noticed the problem would occur with AM, FM, and the in dash CD player. So... that narrows it down to the head unit, fiber loop, or amp.

The only thing I could do to replicate the problem is to unplug the fiber optic cable from the amp in the trunk.. This mimics the problem pretty well, actually, down to the non-functioning volume knob when the audio is cut.

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Since the problem seems to be worse at high volume or when it is warmer out, my conclusion is that the problem is heat related. Poking around the internet there seem to be a smattering of these problems with no real solutions. Some people have had corrosion that was fixable, but overall the solution seems to be grab a new amp.

So I did that.

I headed to my local LKQ today before going to pee in a cup for the new job (overshare).

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“What are you looking for today?” asked the forced-friendly counter attendant.

“Jaguar X-Type, but I think I know where they are.” I responded, knowing they didn’t have any S-Types, but the X-Type has the same amp.... I think.

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“Oh we don’t have any of those,” she responded.

“No, you have two. I’ll look them up on my phone on the walk up. Thanks!” I replied, annoyed at the entire exchange.

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To be fair she probably isn’t used to someone showing up in khakis and a teal shirt, but it was what I was wearing and the job isn’t a dirty one.

Yes, I recycled the photo from my last LKQ visit....
Yes, I recycled the photo from my last LKQ visit....
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Four 10mm nuts later I had an amp in hand and the first thing I noticed is a little cooling fan on the side. I could totally see that little bastard being the source of all my troubles!

But it wasn’t...

I plugged the “new” amp into the car, witnessed the fan start to whir, and immediately heard the audio cut out. Now, in a lot of ways this isn’t a bad thing. The problem has never occurred with the car not running before, so this really helps my troubleshooting!

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That said, additional jiggling, prodding and probing didn’t really make the problem go away or get worse. It just... was.

So, I figured why not tear about the “new” amp and see what I can see.

So I did that.

Unfortunately, with the amp apart I saw a very little in terms of smoking guns, at least on the front.

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I couldn’t look at the back because the amp is actually soldered to the rear shell!?

Looks a little gross, I guess?
Looks a little gross, I guess?
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I unsoldered the tab and, again, no smoking guns.

I cleaned off some corrosion, touched up some solder joints, touched up the grounding pads, but ultimately didn’t find anything I could point at and say “well there is the problem!”.

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The blue is some form of conformal coating and looks semi-intentional. I did not remove it.
The blue is some form of conformal coating and looks semi-intentional. I did not remove it.

Fully disassembled, I realized to get this thing back together I’d need thermal paste. No matter, apparently Best Buy actually sells it for a reasonable price!

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On the way back, an additional development! The audio cut out all together and didn’t come back! Well if nothing else I may have finally let the smoke out of this thing! Why am I excited? I need to re-examine my priorities in life...

Anyway, I the remembered that I can talk to the audio controller via OBDII. I plugged in my scanner and...

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Illustration for article titled Jaaaaaaaag audio woes and troubleshooting

Huh. Well the internet is still pointing to an optical networking problem. Unfortunately all the stuff in the trunk that I can get at appears to be OK.

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The next morning I cleaned off the old thermal paste and put on the new stuff. Then I tightened the hell out of all the heatsink screws, and tried the amp again. Well actually I tried the “old” one again to confirm it still wasn’t working.

It was still not working! I don’t know why failure excites me, but it does.

I tried the “new” self-refurbished one and...

Illustration for article titled Jaaaaaaaag audio woes and troubleshooting
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Sound! Noise! Volume! NPR!

Ok... so that is somewhat of a result. Now I guess I need to finish reassembling the “new” one and install it into the car. Then I might tear into the old one and see if I can make it work too and either have a spare or, more likely, sell it on eBay.

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Fingers crossed this is the end of my issues!

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