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What I learned fixing my Audiophile/CD6 Changer

Discussion in 'Explorer Audio & Navigation' started by razgueado, July 6, 2011.

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    1. razgueado

      razgueado New Member

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      I bought a 2003 Eddie Bauer a few months ago. When I bought it, the CD changer displayed all the classic symptoms. It said it was loaded, but displayed "CD Error" on startup, wouldn't eject, loading gate wouldn't open, etc. After much research and trying all the "easy" fixes, I finally pulled it out of the dash yesterday and fixed it. Here's what I think I learned, fortunately not 'the hard way'.

      1. Easy fixes probably won't work

      I tried everything suggested on the web about pulling fuses, disconnecting the battery, clearing diagnostic codes. Nothing worked. After looking at the insides of the unit, I don't see how they could. I'm not calling anyone a liar, strange things happen in this cosmos. Just don't be surprised if you try all the "secret electronic handshakes" and get no joy.

      2. Don't poke anything into the loading gate

      First of all, it's never a good idea to poke anything into anywhere that's not built for what's being poked. So keep your screwdrivers, credit cards, dental probes, coat hangers, fishhooks and whatever else OUT of the loading gate. User your common sense. Just say no.

      Secondly, even though the loading gate on this thing is supposed to accommodate CD's, if you know or even suspect that there's a problem, DON'T try to poke a CD in.

      3. Bite the bullet and pull the unit

      It's really not hard to pull the unit. With the unit out of the vehicle, and 15 minutes of looking at and meditating on how the thing works, I suspect most of the jamming problems could be fixed by folks with average intelligence and slightly-better-than-average gentleness.

      4. Use the right tools

      A clean, wide-blade putty knife is an essential tool when working with pop-off interior panels like the center bezel. Work slowly and gently and the bezel around the stereo will slip out with nary a scratch. I'd seen posts here that called the process of extracting that bezel "maddening" - or worse. I dunno, came out clean for me. Just make sure the blade is wide, and clean.

      5. The CD changer isn't bounce-proof

      Okay - down to nuts and bolts, or in this case, pins.

      The changer is six "trays" that sit in a bracket assembly that is maneuvered up and down by servos. The trays are very slim, height-wise. A springy, metal bracket on top provides shock-absorption and downward tension on the assembly. In effect, the trays are suspended much as your Explorer is suspended - springs and shocks absorb energy and limit travel, converting excess energy into heat.

      But here's the problem: those trays are aligned by two pins at the back corners, and these two pins are simply set into two holes in the chassis. There's nothing attached to the pins to limit their travel, the expectation is that the springy metal on top will absorb the energy driving upward motion before the pins pop out of their holes. That's the expectation. But in reality, unlike your Explorer, nothing limits upward motion of the suspension except the amount of travel in the springy bracket and the metal case surrounding the unit.

      So, give the vehicle a significant bounce, and two things can go wrong. One or both of those pins might pop out of their sockets and not fall back in, or a CD could jump out of its tray and jam. The likelihood of this is increased if the bounce originates on one side of the vehicle. If the vehicle is jarred equally on both sides, say, by an even speed bump (it could happen!), then everything might fall back into its proper place. But jar one side of the vehicle solidly enough, and everything might get stuck.

      When I opened the case on mine and gave it a good looking over, the problem became immediately clear. Somewhere along the line the original owner probably hit a big bump of some sort on the driver side of the vehicle. The pin on the left of the tray assembly had bounced out of its socket and stood on the chassis rail. The pin on the right bound in its socket and stuck.

      A little (VERY little) gentle (VERRRRY GENTLE) lifting and prodding in the right places, guided by brainpower, got the pins back into their holes, and a little more got the stranded CD's out. I reinstalled the unit, and it's worked flawlessly now over six operational hours.


      6. It's delicate in there

      Durability is a tricky thing to achieve in mobile audio systems. There's a lot of lightweight metal in there. There has to be, really. Make a tray assembly that won't flex some, and all kinetic energy that flows through it will transfer right to the disks, which will flop all over in there.

      So there are a lot of parts that can handle even a significant shock from daily driving, but simply have no chance against human strength. This is why I said don't poke anything in from the front. You might bend the brackets that support the rollers that guide the CD in, gall the front of the tray...any number of things can get fubar if you apply even minimal human stength, and when you're looking at things through the gate, it's easy to forget yourself and apply just a tad too much pressure - especially if you're getting pissed about the "@%$^ing piece of $^%# stereo..."

      When you're looking at the guts, it's easier to remember how delicate everything is and be careful.


      7. Don't use homemade CD's

      The stranded CD in the bottom tray was obviously burned in the previous owner's computer. Compared to a manufactured CD, the difference was barely perceptible. I couldn't see the difference, but my fingers could feel it. It was a tiny bit thicker, and less flexible. In a home CD unit, it wouldn't cause a problem. But given the crowding in the 6-cd changer, an imperceptible tad of difference can cause outsized problems.

      8. When loading CD's, DON'T PUSH THEM!

      An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

      When the unit is functioning properly, it will grab hold of the CD you're loading and pull it in. So...let it. Don't push the CD. Don't even pinch it between thumb and forefinger. Let the CD rest on your palm and extend over your fingertips, insert the extended edge of the CD into the gate gently. It doesn't have to go in very far before the unit will grab it and pull it in. If it doesn't grab it, shoving isn't going to solve the problem.

      Don't load CD's while driving. If concern for your own safety - and mine - isn't enough to persuade you to keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, then consider what a pain in the toochus it will be to get your CD's out or replace your unit when just as you're loading in a CD, you hit a big pothole or get run into from behind by someone who's a bigger idiot than you. Load your CD's before you drive, or pull over.

      9. If all this seems incongruent with the "Sport" in "Sport-Utility Vehicle"...

      Get an aftermarket head you can connect your MP3 player into. You'll be much happier.

      10. This thread sucks without pictures.

      Yeah, if I'd even expected the thing would work when I was done with it, I'd have videotaped the process. Sorry...but I'm not pulling the unit back out until it fails again. Feel free to message me if something seems unclear here.


      Disclaimer: These are my observations, opinions, and experiences, shared in a spirit of cooperation. Your mileage may vary, I'm no mechanical engineer, I could be the antichrist, the Easter Bunny may be the true spirit of Christmas. I dunno. But I know I certainly didn't intend to offend anyone with this post.

      Happy highways and tunes...
       
      Last edited: July 6, 2011
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    3. jad2411

      jad2411 Well-Known Member

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      Nice post, I agree with everything regarding the cd changer :thumbsup:
       
    4. jrford

      jrford Well-Known Member

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    5. razgueado

      razgueado New Member

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      Yes indeed, that thread and another that had pictures. That's why I felt disappointed in myself that I didn't shoot and tape my own odyssey.

      Unit is still functioning flawlessly five days later, with approximately 10-20 operational hours.

      Had a bit of a scare last night. The unit didn't like a CD my wife checked out from the library. It was a manufactured CD, may have just needed cleaning. The unit wouldn't play it, and took a while to eject it, but it did and reported "Bad CD."

      I had to agree with the unit - it was a Kristin Chenoweth album. Bad. ;-)
       
    6. mulroonl

      mulroonl New Member

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      I have a 2004 mountianeer 120k miles on it....6 disc audiophile unit...It says there are discs in the unit all the numbers are lit, but there is no discs in the unti...I hit load and get CD error, or initializing. Does the same for eject.I tried disconnecting the battery and pulling the fuse. Still getting the errors any ideas?
       
    7. froglady99

      froglady99 New Member

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      Thanks!

      Thanks so much for posting this! I know you posted it several years ago, but I just wanted you to know that it's been very helpful to me. My CD changer wasn't ejecting or playing discs, and I pulled it out, took the CDs out, and reinstalled it, but it still wouldn't work.

      Well, I read your post last night and saw the part about the pins. I pulled the unit out again, found the pins you mentioned and made sure they were in place, and reinstalled the CD changer. I didn't have time to really test it much, but from what I could tell, it's working fine! I was afraid I'd have to replace it, but it looks like it'll keep going for now. Thanks so much!
       

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