Last Updated
15 September, 2004

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Fixing a Stuttering CD Player

The MKII's 3-in-1 stereo system includes a CD player that, over time, might tend to "stutter" or "pause" during playback. While this seems most problematic with CD-R media, it also occurs on commercially produced audio CDs. I've heard of shops that will repair your player for $250 and more!

Luckily, Pete Hartwell determined that it was probably just dust and dirt causing this problem, and he provided a step-by-step description of how to clean your own player. It gave me the courage to try it myself. I promised Pete I'd take photos along the way so that other owners could benefit from this procedure.

Some of the photos aren't as sharp as I'd have liked, but it's a new camera and I'm still getting the hang of it.

Finally, remember that this is only a guide -- not gospel. What you do to YOUR vehicle is YOUR responsibility. I do not endorse, approve, authorize, or otherwise encourage you to make alterations to your vehicle. Be careful, and recognize the dangers associated with modifications to your vehicle's critical systems, like electrical, engine, brakes, etc.

Please contact me if you have comments or suggestions about the article or the project, or if you find errors on these pages.

Tools Needed

  • Various sizes of Philips and flat screwdrivers

  • Some Q-Tips and 90% rubbing alcohol

  • Some tiny brushes are helpful

  • Light oil

Before You Start

Make sure your stereo's security code is disabled, as you'll need to disconnect power to the system. Otherwise, you'll end up with an unusable system. As many owners know, it can be frustrating (and expensive) to get your dealer to reset the security code.

Doing It

Here's a photo of my center dash before I started:

First, you'll need to remove the center panel that surrounds the stereo and heater/AC controls. Remove the cigarette lighter element, then the ashtray. You'll see two screws in the front of the ashtray compartment (see photo below). Remove these two screws.

Now remove one more screw, located just below the ignition lock:

The panel interlocks with the center console with two tabs. First, remove the shifter boot panel, then gently pry up the front of the center console top. There are two tabs, as shown here:

Once these tabs have been pulled free of the instrument panel, urge the console top up even further. There are two snaps on either side that will come free, enabling you to lift the console top out of the way:

Beginning at the bottom of the center instrument panel,  CAREFULLY pull the panel towards you. Move your fingers around its perimeter, pulling gently. At the ignition lock, you'll need to push the lower dash panel down, away from the piece you are removing, as there is a plastic flange surrounding the opening for the ignition lock.

Just when it seems like it won't come out, it will come free. Just be careful, and keep working it free. The first time I removed this panel, I was amazed at the simplicity of the design, and how much access it provides.
Remove the electrical connectors that attach to the cigarette lighter (there are two, one for power and one for lighting). Be careful, as there is a small housing that fits over the lighter socket and the lamp socket. Also, remove the connector that attaches to the emergency flasher switch near the top on the panel.
Once these connectors are free, you can remove the panel and set it safely aside to expose the center dash components, as shown below:

NOTE:  I had previously removed the heater/AC knobs and the power knob for the stereo. Only the stereo knob will need to be removed prior to disassembling the CD unit.
There are four screws that mount the stereo "cage" into the dash, two on each side of the unit:

With the mounting screws removed, pull the entire cage forward, and there should be enough slack in the connecting cables to enable you to tip the front of the unit down to reach the connectors. There are two antenna cables and a multi-contact socketed connector:

The top of the metal cage is simply pressed on with a friction fit:

Slip a flat-bladed screwdriver at the spots that say "OPEN", and pry the cover off.

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