Making Car Audio Equipment Last Longer

This chapter will be short for no other reason than it's boring. But it's still important and is worth reading. Once you get your system how do you keep it working properly and lasting long? The first step is getting it installed correctly. The second is maintaining it.

When you have your system installed make sure you have it done right. Head units should be mounted solidly to prevent vibration. Wires should be connected with either solder and heat shrink or crimp connectors, never "twist and tape". Speakers should be mounted solidly with no air leaks around the mounting frame. Subwoofers should be in the proper size box with solid mounting screws. Amplifiers should not be power starved. Proper gauge wire and quality connections are needed to keep the amplifier working properly. Also make sure your vehicle's electrical system is operating within specifications. Over or under voltage will easily damage sensitive electronics.

After your system is installed you will occasionally need to maintain it. Head units should be dusted with a soft brush to keep excess dust from entering the unit around the media slots (CD, tape, etc.) and buttons. Speakers and subwoofers may need to be checked occasionally to ensure that their mounting screws have not come loose. Amplifiers and signal processors will need to have their electrical connections checked for tightness as well. The automotive environment has a lot of vibration and this will sometimes cause a screw to come loose. Occasionally wipe down your equipment to keep dust and dirt from building on the surface. This is especially true for trunk mounted units.

Some items are better left to a professional. Generally this is anytime you need to remove the cover of an electronic component. This will not usually be a problem but if someone accidentally shoved a credit card into your CD player (these things happen) then I wouldn't recommend trying to fish it out. If you don't know what you're doing you could easily damage the delicate electronic components inside of the case. You're better off finding a professional to help you. Ask around or call the manufacturer to find an authorized service center.

One final note about CD lens cleaners. I have yet to run across a CD player that was helped by using a CD lens cleaner. These are the CD-like devices that have a row of small brushes on the bottom of the disc. They're supposed to wipe the dust off of the CD player's laser lens and lessen skipping. They're a bad idea in my opinion. The brushes, especially on the cheaper models, can knock the sensitive laser out of alignment. This can only be remedied by a trip to a service professional. Take my advice and leave the CD lens cleaner on the shelf.

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