Fixing the original Chrysler CD-Cassette combo decks: full guide

It's been a little while now since I began to contribute to this fine web site, and I'll never forget what led to my first article. Many people had been asking about Chrysler CD players, and how they may be tweaked to play recordable CDs. So, I put my fingers to my keyboard and whipped up a little write-up on the subject using the popular first generation CD/cassette combo deck and the Infinity IV deck as my subjects.

Since then, I have learned one thing: I should not underestimate the popularity of the first CD/cassette combo deck to be offered as factory equipment. I've now been asked several times how this deck may be disassembled (further than just removing the CD module) so that other repairs or modifications might be made possible.

Today, I intend to answer this question with an updated disassembly guide so that you can now see just how this deck goes together and where the major components are.

This particular unit was found in a high mileage 1996 Town and Country in 2008, back when I bought my current vehicle. It is among the first of these units to be offered, starting in 1995, for Chrysler vehicles. They were used in Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth, and of course Chrysler cars, trucks, and vans.

While there are some differences in how this is assembled compared to later combo decks, for the most part they all go together pretty much the same way. Sometimes, the CD module can be removed just by pulling the top cover off and removing the mounting screws. Other times, as with this one, the faceplate and faceplate PCB (circuit board) must be removed first to get at the front two CD module screws.

Those are just about the only major differences between combo deck variations, right up until Chrysler went to the round faced designs. Some had screws “here,” others had them “over there.” None of them will be hiding from you on purpose. There were some electronic changes over the years as well, but never major ones. Really, it isn't very difficult to deal with these decks, just a little time consuming.

Before we get into the innards, we'll take a good look around the deck first. Here's the label. Supplier code 28046 indicates Mitsubishi as the builder of this unit, and you will find this same supplier code on all of these decks up until the round faced ones made their appearance.

A handy connector pin diagram is included on the label to assist in wiring this unit, if need be.

On the underside of the deck, there are only two screws. You do not need to worry about removing these, ever; they hold the faceplate carrier to the chassis. The design of this deck makes repairs relatively easy; all the major components plug together and drop in with a minimum of fuss.

Here's the busier side of the unit, the heat sink side. This is where the amplifier chips and voltage regulators attach for cooling. Observe the red arrows... these are of a different length than the other three, and while they can be used interchangeably with one another you must put them back into the arrowed locations.

The brass colored screws, as you might have guessed, are there to hold the faceplate on.

The rear panel, once again, has few screws to note, so I haven't bothered to arrow them. One holds the tuner module in, while the other two hold the ground bolt attaching plate (another part that does not need to be removed, ever, to service any part of the deck).

This deck has a small white two pin connector next to the main black and gray ones. Not all of these decks will have that connector; it connects to the vehicle data bus to access radio fault codes, but, mainly, to interface with steering wheel controls, and to alter display brightness information with the headlamp switch.

There are so few screws on the other side that there is again no point to arrowing them. The brass ones hold the faceplate on, while the remaining one on the top right is one of two that hold the tuner module in.

We'll start by removing the faceplate. Take out the four screws, pull off the volume, fader, and EQ knobs, unclip the faceplate at the top and sides, and just pull it forward. It'll come off pretty easily.

Removing the PCB for the faceplate isn't hard, but varies with the version of this combo deck that you have. Some have screws on either side of the cassette slot. This one has three twist tabs - I've indicated them in red. Line up the ones by the cassette slot with their slots, bend the one on the top left upwards, and the whole board should pop right off of there.

Before we go on, observe the two red arrows - this is where you find two of the four mounting screws for the CD module on this particular version of the combo deck. Not all of them are built like this. Some of these combo decks have all four accessible from up top. I've had this deck apart before for tweaking, so I elected not to re-install them. They are not necessary to hold the deck together, and only get in your way if you need to get in there multiple times to tweak the laser just right.

Let's get that ribbon cable disconnected now. I'll show you how to do that.

I've shown this connector in the released position... simply pop the black catch loose by pushing it in the direction of the arrows, then remove the ribbon cable.

Be careful with these ribbon cables... while this one has a latching connector, others in the deck do not, and are friction fit instead. It is possible to damage these cables by forcing them back into the friction connectors too hard. There is a blue reinforcing strip on most of them that helps hold the cable into those friction connectors, and that strip can come off. When it does, the cable isn't going to stay in the friction connector any more, and you will get short circuits.

Here's a close look at the button switches and illumination bulbs. I've taken one of the switches apart to show you the components. I've already touched on these switches in my previous article, but they are such a big problem with these units that I might as well go over their issues again.

Basically, when these switches get dirty, the deck gets flaky. You push the AM/FM button, it does nothing. You push again harder, and it goes into CD player mode instead. You hit the track up button, it goes down a track instead. All of these types of issues with this deck happen because of faulty or dirty button switches, so you have to take them apart, one by one, and clean them.

I've had the best luck using clean, small pieces of pencil eraser. I cut a piece off, small enough to fit down into the body of the switch, stick it on the end of a jeweler's screwdriver, and just scrub the contacts at the bottom of the housing. I then scrub the contact area on the green plunger itself. Most of the time, this will get them working properly again... after dusting the remains of pencil eraser away from the parts, of course.

How do they come apart? It's pretty easy. Take the metal clip off the switch, pull the gray plunger out, then carefully remove the silicone contact plunger itself.

The illumination bulbs are the standard 3mm 12 volt grain-of-wheat style used throughout the 1980s and 90s in most Chrysler decks. To replace them, you must unwind the leads from their little mounting bases... that way you can re-use those bases. Then, just stick the new bulb into the old base, wind the leads back in place, and re-install. You may need to get some new filter socks for the new bulbs - I've found that over time most of those get married to the bulb thanks to heat and there's no way to get them off the old bulb without damage.

In any case, eBay is your friend for replacing both the bulbs and the socks. You can get these socks in a variety of colors too, in case you've been pondering an illumination color change. Note that the display on these decks will stay the same color as factory, however.

Now, we'll get into the unit a little further. Remove the two screws holding the top on, take it off, and you see the CD module sitting right there underneath. Red indicates the one screw up top still holding the module inside the deck, the other one having been used by Mitsubishi to pull double duty as a top cover screw as well.

There are two other screws of note, here. Green is the one that holds the connector assembly to the chassis. Yellow indicates the screw holding in the power amplifier module. More on those later. Let's remove the CD module now.

There is one solitary ribbon cable joining the CD module to the rest of the deck. This is one of the friction fit ones, so be gentle when you disconnect or reconnect it. You may do so either at the module itself, or down inside the deck at the mainboard. I always do it at the mainboard.

I've already shown you how to tweak this module to read recordable CDs better in a past article, so I won't bother going into any more detail there today. Instead, we're going to merely continue to get further inside this complicated deck.

Our next step will be to remove the tuner module. Take out the two red arrowed screws. Gently unclip the module from the chassis... it takes a bit of maneuvering to get the module clear of the chassis, but it can be done.

Disconnect the tuner module from the mainboard by unplugging the connector indicated in red. Just pull straight down, making sure you hold the mainboard as you do so to keep it from flexing too much.

In case your tuner is intermittent, you may need to get the module apart for servicing. While Mitsubishi's solder quality has improved since the days of the notoriously flaky Infinity II and Ultimate Sound decks, it is not guaranteed that you will never have a problem with bad solder joints in these decks. In fact, I've had these tuner modules go intermittent because of poor solder joints already.

To get at the topside of the tuner board, de-solder and release the twist tabs at each of the four corners, indicated in blue. Remove the red arrowed screw. This will allow you to pop the metal panel off the board and access the component side.

As you can see, the tuner board is a nightmare of both through-hole components and surface mount parts. To be honest, I find it easier to just swap the whole module out when servicing tuner issues on this deck.

Now, we'll turn our attention to the left side of the deck. Remove all screws holding the heatsinked side panel on, and this is what you see. Up top, we have the power amplifier in what is probably the best-thought-out location I've ever seen in a Chrysler car stereo. The parts putting out the most heat are in the best place they could be for cooling. But there's still a problem... they didn't bother using any thermal grease to conduct the heat into the big side panel heatsink!

Yellow arrows indicate all the parts that connect to the side panel. If you are servicing this deck, it's a wise move to apply thermal grease to all of these parts.

Directly below the power amp module is the power supply module. These modules both interface with the mainboard via use of vertical connectors like the one you see in the bottom center of the picture. These connectors unplug at both ends and have no polarity, so worry not if they come off on you. Just plug them back in as needed.

Observe the blue arrow. This small two pin connector is the interface for the data bus, and runs to the white two pin connector on the back panel. Be careful with this connector... it's easy to damage it and even easier to overlook it when you remove the mainboard.

It's time to move on and take out the power amp module. Unplug the two connectors arrowed in purple, then remove the red arrowed screw. Pull the module straight upwards, and out it comes.

The bottom of the power amp module. To replace either of the amplifier chips, de-solder the twist tabs arrowed in red, release the tabs. and pull the metal bracket off the topside of the board.

The amplifier chips used in this deck are Toshiba TA8233H parts.

Now, we'll get to the really fun stuff... mainboard removal. Again, pay attention to that data bus connector, this time arrowed in yellow. Unplug that now, before you forget. Make sure you hold onto the body of the connector as you unplug the wire side so that you don't damage the connector or the mainboard.

Getting the board itself out of there is pretty straightforward. Red arrows indicate the two twist tabs holding the board to the faceplate carrier. Release those. De-solder the two tabs arrowed in blue, then bend them away from the mainboard. Remove the ribbon cable next to the now vacant CD module cable connector... this is the interface cable for the cassette module.

The board will now pull straight up and out, but be careful as you do so... there are two connectors at the very back as well as the one vertical "jail bars" looking connector on the left side. There will also be that ribbon cable to the faceplate board to worry about damaging, as well... just take your time and the board will come out without too much fighting.

The mainboard removed, I can now draw your attention to the red arrow. This is where the cassette slot illumination lamp is. It's clipped and soldered in, and is the same 12V 3mm style bulb used for the face illumination.

Red again indicates this illumination lamp. You will need to retain and reuse that black plastic mount for the new bulb.

There is very little on the mainboard that can be serviced, as it is mainly comprised of surface mount parts, so we'll continue on to the lower half of the deck.

This is what we see with the mainboard out. Now we can finally remove the cassette module for belt replacement or general cleaning. Remove the four screws arrowed in red.

The cassette module in this deck is considerably more reliable than the ones used in most previous Mitsubishi factory decks. Gone are the days of the Infinity II mechanism, which was problematic throughout the entire time it was used. I have never seen one of these combo decks with a faulty cassette module.

Even so, these must be cleaned periodically to maintain working order. You can access the pinch rollers, capstans, and tape head easily enough from here to do just this.

And if you flip the mechanism over, it becomes incredibly easy to replace the cassette belt. No small parts or metal plates need to be removed to get at it, as was sometimes the case in the past.

I've removed the faceplate carrier to give you a better view of the remaining parts, though again it is not necessary to go that far.

We've almost got her all the way apart now. Only two modules are left: the power supply on the left and the pre-amp module at the very back. Both of these are held in place using twist tabs. I've indicated their positions in red.

We must remove the connector assembly before we can get the power supply out of there, so let's do that now. Remove the blue arrowed screw, and the whole connector assembly comes right out, secured at the bottom only with a simple tab.

The underside of the power supply module. If you're going to find soldering problems, you'll find them here. In fact, sharp eyes may have already noticed the discoloration on the very left, just below that notch in the board. Two resistors are found on the other side, and they run hot. In any factory deck, you want to look for such discolored spots and make sure you re-flow any solder joints in the area. Over time, such joints will almost always be compromised.

Last but not least, we'll remove the pre-amp module. An M62406FP chip controls this section. Once you release the twist tabs, you just pull the module forward a bit and pull straight up to remove it.

Again, look for any bad solder joints there might be. I found several on this board, though most of the deck has been pretty clear of bad joints until now.

And so, my in depth look at the most popular factory Chrysler deck to have ever been released comes to a close. As you've seen, it isn't that complicated a deck to work on, but there are quite a few steps to its disassembly. Especially if you need to get into it far enough to even replace the cassette belt. Good luck!

General Chrysler-related radio and stereo articles at Allpar:
 
CD and DVD systems (stereos have a three-letter code on the face plate)
 
Tape and tape/CD systems
 
From here to Infinity
 
CD changers
 
Classic systems (before tape decks)
 

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