ICE & HFT Radio fault

Discussion in '8th Generation (2008-2015) [Acura TSX]' started by earthsciencer1, Saturday 3rd Sep, 2016.

  1. earthsciencer1 Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    United Kingdom Bob Wetherby
    I took my 8th Generation to my local dealer this week for its three year service and MOT(35k miles). The only significant problem is with my radio which has the following faults.
    1. When I descend a dip in the road the signal drops out and I get a lot of HISS and interference. Also the ST stereo indicator starts blinking when this happens
    2. Sometimes there is a kind of freeze and a syllable in a word repeats quickly, a bit like an old vinyl record getting momentarily stuck in a groove.
    3. The RDS function does not appear to work properly and fails to transfer to the strongest signal when moving into another area or choosing a preselected station.

    The service manager said that the radio had been checked and was OK. I suggested a problem with the aerial but he checked it and said that it looked fine. I am keen to sort this out quickly as the car is in the last month of the manufacturer's warranty?

    Has anyone else experienced a similar problem please?
  2. jimjams Guest

    Unfortunately the Honda ESM (electronic service manual aka DVD) is a bit worrying when it starts off with

    1. Check if each radio station can be received normally. Compare the radio reception to another vehicle of the same model and trim level in the exact same conditions.
    Are they the same?
    YES - Operation is normal
    NO - Go to 2.

    If the reception is ok at the dealer, they won't proceed with the next steps, which are very comprehensive. The further checks progress from checking electrical continuity along the wires on the rear screen, to checking electrical continuity along the cable back to the head unit, as well as the "antenna coil" behind the side trim (which I think is either an RF filter or an RF amplifier). But to be fair, even those checks might not show a slight degradation without use of extremely specialist RF equipment.

    Best thing you can do when the reception fades, is stop the car and see if it comes back. If it doesn't, scan through stations to see which, if any, can be picked up. Then make a note of where this is, the bad stations, and the good stations. One then needs to check the locations of transmitters for the stations and their transmit powers ....or alternatively take another car there and see if there is the same problem.

    You might want to contact HUK as well, or get the dealer to do this, just in case there is a fault that is slowly getting worse.
    earthsciencer1 likes this.
  3. Nels Moderator Staff Team

    Is this a recent occurrence or has it been like this from the beginning?
    Do you get the same problem in other cars?

    There is a set of traffic lights that I travel along regularly. If I stop within the first 5-6 car lengths from the lights, the signal breaks up. It has been like this for years, in whatever car I have been in. It is one of the higher parts of the road, but just a poor signal zone. Mobile phone reception is also hopeless in this same spot.
  4. jimjams Guest

    Ofcom need to know about that location, the only way to jam every bit of RF from 90 MHz to 3 GHz is with a very wideband jammer LOL

    But this issue with radio reception in the Accord saloon is not unknown, the antenna on the rear screen is rubbish, and I suspect that the "antenna coil" in the side trim is an active device that is prone to problems.
    Nels likes this.
  5. Nels Moderator Staff Team

    It's been the same with 3 non-Hondas too.

    Reception everywhere else has been fine.

  6. jimjams Guest

    The main potential "weakness" with the antenna in the saloon is that the FM antenna shares the rear screen defogger, with the AM antenna laid between it. On the Tourer the FM antenna is in one rear side screen, with the AM antenna on the opposite rear side screen, and the defogger in the tailgate.

    Now and again, this complaint of reception problems in the saloon does crop up, with the same comment that the dealer finds no fault. To fully investigate the antenna and the RF amp/filter/coil and the cable back to the head unit would take a lot of time, and IMO the dealers do not want to give this job to a technician on the mere possibility of a degraded connector when there does not appear to be an issue at their location.

    FM commercial radio stations broadcast in the old "Band 2" band which is 87.5 to 108 MHz, but they do not all broadcast with the same power or from the same transmitter. Not only that, but most of the BBC stations have overlapping areas where one transmitter's coverage is reducing and the receiver should switch to another frequency that that station is on. Here is the BBC's list BBC - Radio - Radio Frequencies

    Thus there should not be any naturally occuring area that is "dead" to all Band 2 stations (BBC or otherwise).

    Regarding mobile phones, it is even more complex, but the same adage applies, in that there should be no naturally occuring area that is dead to all mobile phone usage. Below is the list of operators and the frequencies that they use, but note that although they all share locations, the way that the bands are shared on a site-by-site basis is more-or-less random

    800 MHz band - 4G (LTE)
    791 to 821 and 832 to 862 Vodafone O2 H3G

    900 MHz band - 2G (GSM) & 3G (UMTS)
    880 to 915 and 925 to 960 Vodafone O2

    1800 MHz band - 2G (GSM) & 4G (LTE)
    1710 to 1785 and 1805 to 1880 Vodafone O2 H3G EE

    1900 MHz band (old unpaired)
    1900 to 1920 EE O2 H3G

    2100 MHz band - 3G (UMTS)
    1920 to 1980 and 2110 to 2170 Vodafone O2 H3G EE

    2600 MHz band - 4G (LTE)
    2500 to 2570 and 2620 to 2690 Vodafone EE

    The only way that any place can be completely "dead" to all of the above signals is by use of a Faraday cage or a jammer, but using the latter is illegal (because the operators/broadcasters have paid for their licences)
  7. earthsciencer1 Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    United Kingdom Bob Wetherby
    Thanks for helpful comments. TBH the radio has been doing this for a couple of months now but I decided that I could live with it until the next service was due in the hope tht it could be sorted out then.

    I work as a casual delivery and collections driver for the Honda dealership where the service was carried out and I can honestly say that I have never noticed a similar problem with the radio reception on any of the dozens of vehicles (predominantly Hondas but many other manufacturers too) whose cars I have driven over the past few years. Many of these cars have been quite a few years old and my own Accord is by far the worst as far as this fault is concerned.

    The fault may be getting slightly worse but probably only marginally. I am considering trying to find a car radio specialist to get a further opinion but I am not sure if this will be straightforward or not.

    Thanks again for taking the time to provide your expertise.
  8. jimjams Guest

    Yours is not an isolated case, but I thought I'd check up below anyway, and the following methodology could be useful for you and anyone else.

    First thing is to check the transmitters and frequencies being used in one's area. This is an absolutely superb site

    Just click on the country flag, then click on "Frequencies For Any Location" which will take you to the "set position" page

    You can enter the town into the top grey bar and click on Location Search, or enter the lat long and click on OK, or click on GoogleMap and click in the map. FMSCAN is a brilliant site IMO

    Anyway I chose Wetherby (as that is the OP's location) which gives this page

    If you scroll down the page in the above link you will find the frequencies and transmitters listed by strongest, as so .....


    Although Holme Moss is 53km from Wetherby, because its ERP is 250 kW, it gives very strong signals at Wetherby (NB the transmitter is not a true 250 kW, it is an ERP, which is fairly easy to explain but I won't go into it). Next is Emley Moor which is 39 km away but a lower ERP of 3.1 kW.

    This next site gives the transmit frequencies and ERPs of BBC stations and a cross-check of Holme Moss concurs with the above table.

    But, those estimations of signal strength at Wetherby are probably based on LoS (Line of Sight) i.e. FMSCAN does not use topography in the calculation

    So next go to this site and select one of the frequencies then on the next page click on the transmitter name and zoom in

    e.g. *Holme Moss 89.3 MHz (BBC Radio 2)


    from the above, you can see that BBC Radio 2 is patchy round Wetherby

    Now try Emley Moor 106.2 (Heart)


    Again that is patchy round Wetherby

    So what about the adage that I said ......" there should not be any naturally occuring area that is "dead" to all Band 2 stations (BBC or otherwise)."

    Try the local Wetherby transmitter, Collingham, 107.4 (Tempo FM)


    and Wetherby has full coverage from the local Collingham transmitter.

    So what I suggest is to put Tempo FM 107.4 into a stored button on the radio, and try that in the area where you are getting the fading (assuming that it is Wetherby).

    If the fading is somewhere else and you're a bit freaked by the above, say where it is on a map and I'll check

    btw this wikipedia page is useful for cross-referencing too
    Last edited by a moderator: Monday 5th Sep, 2016
  9. Domm Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Greetings guys,

    This topic and what jimjams wrote about remembered me about the issue I'm having on my VIII accord tourer. Both of my rear side defoggers do not work and I also have this strange thing with all FM radio stations. Sound is interrupted with constant (I would say periodical) fade outs. CD, USB and AUX has a fine sound.

    Have I understood correctly, that rear side defrosters are used as FM/AM antennas?
  10. jimjams Guest

    I presume that you have a Tourer (estate car), if so then the wires in the rear sides are not defoggers/defrosters, they are the antennas, the right side (driver's side on a UK car) is the FM antenna, the left side (passenger's side on a UK car) is the AM antenna. Only the tailgate has defogger/defroster wires.

    Try the site to see if it lists the closest transmitters to your location :Wink:
  11. Domm Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Thank you jimjams! Now I see how the engineering is done here :Smile: Must have thought about it as the contours are different on both sides.

    Anyways, then my problem with reception is getting more unclear. It is not location based, I get it continuously. It is like NORMAL SOUND (7-8 s) - 0.5 s sound off - NORMAL SOUND (7-8 s) - 0.5 s sound off. And this sequence is periodical. If that would be the antenna, I would say it would be constant bad reception with noise. I thought maybe it could be the FM amplifier?

    Do you think I could eliminate antenna option by just connecting sort of external antenna?
  12. jimjams Guest

    It's very difficult to say what the issue is. If you can, the best thing to do is to stop the car when/where it is happening and see if it continues.

    There are two types of fading, fast fading and slow fading. The latter is also known as "shadowing" and is due to terrain and building affecting the signal level beyond the transmitter. Fast fading is due to multipath where the signal level fluctuates in time at a given point.

    The amplitude change in fast fading can vary greatly over time, as can the speed at which the amplitude changes. It's best to think of the sea close to the shore, sometimes the water is calm, sometimes it rises and falls, sometimes there is a lot of spray. This is how fast fading can look to a receiver. But if the signal into the receiver is better than the fading levels then the fading has no effect.

    What I am saying is this: if the car is stationary at a location where the signal is very low and the sound is dropping in and out, and if the antenna and the antenna amplifier are working properly, then it is fast fading that is the cause i.e. there is nothing you can do about it. If the car is stationary at a location where the signal is good and the sound is dropping in and out, then this implies that the antenna and/or the antenna amplifier are not working properly, causing signal loss in the feed to the receiver, so the signal reaching the receiver input is low and the fast fading is causing the sound to drop in and out.

    The best thing is to check the signal with the car stationary, and try different channels. If all the channels seem to be doing it, see if there is a location where some or all of the channels no longer do it (in this country such locations are easy to find, but I don't know about Lithuania). If you cannot get a location where the sound is not dropping in an out on any channel, then I would suspect a fault in the antenna or antenna amplifier or a connector or the cable itself.

    Your suggestion to try an external antenna is also a good idea, if you can, try connecting a good FM whip antenna into the receiver input and see what happens.
  13. Domm Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Hi there! That's some very useful information, thanks! Didn't have much time to play with it, but some things what I have noticed:
    - Now I can tell that it sure is location based (will try the fmscan, to check if stations with strong signal have the fading present).
    - tried the same station stationary without the antenna, with external antenna, and with car antenna. Fading (and sound) was present in every way, but as you said in different patterns. It shouldn't be the antenna in my opinion.

    Aren't those fluctuations filtered in some way or could any of the radio settings interfere with that?
  14. jimjams Guest

    When the car is moving, the antenna is moving through space where the electromagnetic energy is affected by shadowing from buildings and terrrain, and by multipath caused by buildings and terrain. Shadowing and multipath produce fading of the electromagnetic energy in the space around the antenna.

    "Fast fading" is a strange terminology because the fading is not necessarily fast, although it is usually faster in time than shadowing (aka "slow fading").

    When the car is not moving the electromagnetic energy will only alter due to slight changes in the multiple path lengths between the transmit antenna and the receiver antenna, these multiple path lengths are called multipath, which affects the amount of electromagnetic energy, which will rise and fall over time (or fade) even though the antenna is not moving.

    The receiver input has to have a minimum amount of electromagnetic energy going into the circuitry for the radio to work. If the energy levels at the input are rising and falling around this minimum level, then you will experience the sound dropping in and out. The only way to prevent this is to increase the amount of electromagnetic energy into the receiver input, either by changing location, or by using an antenna with a higher "gain" (which means that the antenna can gather more of the electromagnetic energy in the space around it). It's a bit like capturing sea water at certain level, if the water is high enough then the device capturing the water has no problem, if the water is rising and falling at the height of the device trying to capture the water, get a better device for capturing the water !!! LOL

    Have you got a lat/long of the location ?