by Jeremy Schrag • This unit appears to have been used by Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, and Plymouth
In my last article, I promised I would take a look at one of Chrysler's earlier CD changer head units. Today, I'm making good on that promise in taking an in depth peek at the Mitsubishi built four CD in dash changer deck. Perhaps the earliest deck of its kind to appear in a Mopar vehicle, these decks were usually found right at the turn of the century; though they do appear to have been still available as late as 2005.
The above picture shows a changer deck out of a 2001 Chrysler Sebring. I also have an identical one from another 2001 model. While later units supposedly featured Sirius satellite support, mine are too old for that. All I got with mine is a four CD changer and AM/FM tuner.
You may have noticed that there is no sales code printed on the face anywhere. This does not mean there is no sales code for this particular deck, rather it means that this unit comes from a time before Chrysler started routinely printing the sales codes on their units for easier identification.
As you can see here, this deck is rather deep when viewed from above. It is perhaps an oddity that it does not feature the usual Chrysler style part numbers on the label, however it is very easy to see which company built it. Note the location of the two top panel screws - we will need to remove them to get inside the deck.
Here, I have arranged a tape measure to illustrate just how deep this unit is, for those interested in chasing one of these down. The deck requires eight and a half inches behind the mounting area to be installed properly. This may chase away those of you who are seeking to use these in older vehicles. Not only would you have to modify your dash to take a round face unit, you need the depth in there to go with it. Otherwise, this unit uses the old style black and gray connectors. Any 1985-2001 Chrysler vehicle using these connectors can run this deck, including my 1992 Imperial.
Some of you may be wondering about the red arrows. Well, these are very important, particularly if you just bought this deck off eBay. The red arrows indicate where you should install shipping bolts to hold the changer mechanism in place for shipping. If those bolts aren't there, the changer mechanism could be damaged. In fact, just such a thing happened to this deck. I'll show you how to deal with that later.
In fact, I'll take this time to offer a simple warning - do not store these decks on their sides without those shipping bolts in place. The changer mechanism could slip off the rubber suspension bushings, and cause the bottom of the assembly to contact the bottom plate of the unit. You don't want that.
The other side of the deck has another pair of holes for the changer shipping bolts. My first deck came with these bolts. The second did not.
It's time to start getting inside the deck. The faceplate is removed by unscrewing the two bronze colored screws on each side. It is then clipped on, top and bottom. It is very easy to remove, with the faceplate board being joined to the motherboard via connectors. You will need to pull the volume knob off to be able to do it.
The business side of the faceplate. In order to access the button switches and illumination lamps, you must prepare for a major fight with the plastic around the board. First, remove the screws arrowed in red. Then, use a small flat screwdriver to gently pry against the plastic around where the blue arrows are, which indicate the catches for the circuit board. Don't pry too hard, or you risk breaking the board. That would not be a good thing.
This is the topside of the faceplate PCB, with an inset close-up to show you the microlamps used. These are surface mount microlamps which promise to be a nightmare to replace. As you can see, the orange filters this deck came with to provide the signature orange illumination in a Sebring can be removed from each bulb.
Interestingly, the display of this deck shows a few anomalies. It seems to have cassette functionality, which suggests Mitsubishi used the same VFD display across multiple decks.
It's time to take the top panel off the unit by removing the two screws on either side. You should then see this view of the mainboard. Access to the changer mechanism requires everything else to come apart first, but for now we'll have a look at the mainboard.
Before the mainboard will come out, the heatsink must come off. Arrowed in red are the five screws required to remove it. Note that they are longer than the rest of the deck's screws - make sure you keep track of them.
It is not necessary to remove the screws around the two connectors. They will come out with the heatsink, after you disconnect the cables that join them to the mainboard. Fear not, the mainboard connectors are different sizes. You cannot mix them up.
The next step in removing the mainboard is to remove the front of the housing. Take out the three screws arrowed in red. Then, take a look in the upper left corner of the picture. See that ribbon cable with the blue end? Pull that straight out of the connector. It is a friction fit connector.
Once that's done, just pull the front straight off towards you. It is clipped on both sides.
Another essential step is to remove the ribbon cable that runs to the changer mechanism. This connector has a catch, and if you've read my other articles you've seen these before. The arrows indicate where you apply gentle pressure towards the camera to undo the catch. The ribbon cable then just slides out.
On the bottom right of the picture is the amplifier chip for this deck, a Toshiba TA8252H. It's good for about 21 watts into four channels at four ohms, and contains both thermal and short circuit protections.
Though it is not necessary in order to remove the mainboard, we will eventually need to gain access to the changer mechanism. To do that, the rear cover needs to come off. It is secured by the four screws indicated, and is clipped on. You may need to work to pry this off the deck.
The mainboard will not come up without the tuner module being removed. To do that, remove the single screw at the bottom center and pull it straight off toward you. It is joined to the mainboard using a connector much like those used for the faceplate.
At this time, I will remove the other side panel as well. It too is secured with one screw in the bottom center, and pulls straight upwards when that screw is removed.
Now that everything is out of the way, it is time to remove the mainboard. Mitsubishi got a bit tricky here. You have to remove all three of the screws arrowed in red, and then take a small pair of pliers to bend the yellow arrowed twist tabs in line with the slots. Once you do that, the board should come straight up and off.
In this picture of the board from underneath, I've indicated several possible areas of solder joint failure. The blue arrows indicate the connectors for the faceplate, while the red arrows indicate the major heat producing parts of the unit. It's not a bad idea to touch up all these joints if you're in the deck this far already.
Now we get to the real fun - the changer assembly. On either side of this deck you will find two screws, indicated in red. You remove these to gain access to the changer assembly circuit board. There will be another pair on the other side. Take care to reinstall that ground wire properly, seen in the bottom right of the picture, when you go to reassemble the unit.
The blue arrows indicate some more twist tabs. These are holding the bushing mounts in place. In order to service the bushings, whether you are replacing them or merely just putting them back on their spindles (in case you were unlucky enough to have some slip off), these bushing mounts need to come off. Prepare for a fight... the twist tabs are a tight fit, even if you do straighten them up just so to get the mounts off.
The mounts themselves are only attached via the twist tabs and some hinged catches. Once you finally get the twist tabs released, the mounts just hinge away from the assembly and pull straight off. This particular deck had the bushings dislocated on one side - this allowed the changer PCB to contact the bottom panel. As a result, the display would blank out when trying to load and eject discs, and the whole deck would reset itself. This is why we want all the bushings to be in good shape and mounted properly. There are springs to assist them in holding the mechanism in place, but the springs alone are not up to the job.
And now, a look at the changer PCB itself, and another big potential problem area. See the red arrow? This points to the platform loading gears. Let me zoom in real close.
My first deck came to me with a problem: it wouldn't load or eject CDs. The mechanism was totally jammed. When I opened it up, a small gear rolled out and fell into my hand. The red arrow points to this gear - it is friction fit over the loading motor shaft and is responsible for moving the CD trays up and down. What happened with my other deck was, a small piece of packing material had gotten into the deck and wrapped itself around the long worm gear you see above. Unable to move the mechanism, the red arrowed gear drove itself right up off the motor shaft.
In order to fix it, I had to slightly bend to the right the metal piece indicated in blue. This allowed me to pull the worm gear just a hair forward and re-install the motor gear. Then, I re-bent the metal piece to hold the worm gear again. This repaired the tray mechanism, but did not totally un-jam the changer. To be honest, I'm still not sure how I did it. As is the case with all decks of this type, the changer mechanism is very complicated. I got it halfway apart, gave up, put it back together again, and it was magically working again. Nothing at all seemed different to my eyes... I had put it back together exactly as I had found it.
Therefore, I cannot show you how to fiddle with the laser power on this unit. Too much has to come apart. It is way beyond the abilities of the weekend warrior - get the deck to a technician if you're having more serious problems than these with it.
I'll conclude this article with a few shots of the deck in operation, loading CDs. Above, you see it turned off, as it would be in a vehicle with the key in the accessory position. Note the green ready light - if it's flashing, the deck is moving the trays around. When it comes on steady, it is ready for a disc.
Here, I've pressed the load/ejt button followed by the number four (disc 4) button. The ready light is on steady, so I can now shove my Falco CD in there.
I'm going to load Men Without Hats into the second disc tray now, by repeating the above. I've hit the load button, followed by the disc 2 button. As you can see, the camera caught the deck in between flashes of the ready light, so I need to wait on the deck before I put the disc in.
After each disc goes in, the display will tell you which slots are full. In this case, two and four have discs in them while one and three are empty.
Here's the deck in operation. The power is on, CD mode has been selected. To choose a CD, just hit the number of the CD you want to hear and the deck will load it up for you. At the end of each disc, the player loads up the next disc in the unit. Note that the ready light is off, indicating that the changer is busy doing something (playing a CD), and cannot load or eject discs until you tell it to by pressing that button.
This concludes my look at the earliest Chrysler in dash changer that I can think of. Next time, I'll be going retro and taking apart something from the eighties.
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