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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've seen this topic addressed separately but since (in my case) they were related, I wanted to share this fix.

Symptoms
  • backlights on radio inop - will come on if faceplate is pressed
  • hard key presses req'd for preset changes, tuning, etc.
  • cd won't eject (no noise, click, etc.)

Root cause
cracked solder joints between faceplate printed circuit board and female pin connector to main assembly

Discussion
The lights on my faceplate stopped working about a year ago. As this was only a minor issue, I let it go. Then, it became harder to change stations (presets or tuning) using the faceplate (the steering wheel controls were fine). The last straw was when my wife put in a Black Crows CD that refused to eject. No noise, clicking, beeps, or any other indication that the player received the command.

I removed the system from the dash using DIN pullers (described all over) and carefully removed the three square connectors, antenna lead, and OnStar amp connector (useless now since the analog cell network went dark some years ago).

I could see the CD still in the mechanism with no obvious signs of jamming. The carrier scissors up to clear the metal tabs blocking the exit but won't do so without power. I got it out eventually with some minor bending and flexing but you don't need to do this and risk breaking something if you repair the root problem.

Sidebar
My iMac plays CDs fine, but when you put in one of these miserable, copy-protected, DRM-infested discs (they purposefully cannot put the words Compact Disc on them), the computer would first lock onto the data track (not the audio track which runs from the other direction) and refuse to do anything with it - often times getting the disc stuck in the process. This past experience made me think it had something to do with the disc itself. In retropsect, a 2001 CD player wouldn't have any clue about DRM or even data on discs so I should have made that connection instead.​


Repair
I removed the faceplate from the chassis and noticed the pin connector stayed behind with the main board and not with the faceplate board. I disassembled the faceplate leaving the transparent light-paths, keys, and facia together. I separated the brown PCB, white rubber membrane, and green PCB and cleaned them all with isopropyl alcohol.

With the help of a hot soldering iron and good lighting, I was able to carefully re-solder the feet of the female socket back onto the green PCB. I also re-glued the guide-posts but it's probably not needed.

In short, pressing hard on the keys had lead me to believe they were dirty or something was impeding contact. In reality, there was no electrical connection for most of the pins (some were probably still holding on) unless the faceplate was deformed through hard key presses. Since the eject key is about as far away as possible from the pins, no amount of force was going to complete those circuits.

The only caution is that resoldering the pins is delicate work - put on too much solder or burn through the PCB traces and you're going to have a worse problem. Any competent electronics shop can do this repair if you bring them the connector and PCB and tell them to reconnect it. If you're up for it, it's probably a ninety minute job (I work very slowly and methodically).

Hope this helps someone.
-Christopher
 

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Great post! Took mine apart today and just re-heated the solder joints between that connector and the board. Lights are working great. Never had a problem with the CD drive, but seems like a good fix.

I also put some new thermal grease between the "Back Plate/Heat Sink" and whatever that other component is because it was all cracked... My guess is that the unit getting too hot caused the solder to crack in the first place.
 
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