How To Repair and Diagnose Problems with Your Imperial's Radio Dash Controls 

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Question from Jay (1962 & 1963):

I am also having an AM radio problem.  The tuning knob will only move the needle in one direction, and just barely at that.

Reply from PEN:

The tuning mechanism of the radio has bound up, and here's why. Over the years, dust, grease, grime, fallout from air pollution, tar from smoking in the car, heat, oxidization, salt or whatever has bound up the moving parts of the radio by being deposited on them, and it does not take much. The first symptom will be a sleepy search tune, then that will quit. Next will be a non-functioning tuning knob. Then, the buttons will have to be manually pulled out each time you push them in. All of these can happen over a 20 year period, but it does not mean that the radio can not be easily restored to good working order. The task is to clean the radio. If the radio is not cleaned, then all the attention to the rubber slip clutch and to the brass idler slip clutch behind the tuning knob will be wasted effort. First, for those who don't know, here is how to remove the radio from the car: remove the knobs and rings by pulling straight off, reach under the dash and remove the black hot wire and the white electroluminescent wire at the clips. Remove the large black antenna lead. Remove the brown front speaker wires at the speaker, and remove the rear speaker wires at the plug in back of the radio by pulling the plug out. Remove the steel brace from under the radio. Remove the retaining nuts from the knob stems and work the radio out from under the dash. Place the radio on a bench and remove the chrome front, and the top and bottom shield plates by removing the 1/4 hex screws, and the retaining nuts on the chrome front. Turn the radio upside down to see the tuning mechanism transmission parts. Now, what you want to do is set the radio buttons equal distance apart across the whole radio dial: put the tuning knob back on the stem and tune the pointer as far as possible to the right, set that button, then the left, set that button, then do the ones in between. If the tuning knob is ineffective, the needle can be set by pushing in one of the buttons, holding it in, and manually tuning the radio from underneath by rotating the dog eared side of the tuning clutch with your fingers. Now gently remove the tubes, and remember their positions for reassembly (optional). What you want in a cleaner is an aromatic hydrocarbon spray cleaner that will completely evaporate at room temperature and leave no residue at all. A couple of cans of spray carburetor cleaner will do. WD-40 will not do, nor will starting fluid: both leave an oily residue. The cleaner has to evaporate completely. Take the radio outside, and spray on it into a basin or garbage can. Spray all surfaces, and especially into the pushbutton mechanism. Stand up wind to avoid inhaling the spray. Use rubber gloves to prevent dermal absorption of the spray. Start to push in the left and right tuning buttons to move the tuner back and forth and continue spraying into the tuner. Hold in a button and spray into the rubber clutch. The radio will be clean when dirt and grim can not be seen in the fluid dripping off of it, and when the tuning buttons work freely, and when the tuning knob turns freely in the fingers. At this point, air dry the radio in a warm place for at least a day, or as long as it takes until no odor can be detected. Replace the tubes. The only lubricated part that I remember is the little plastic or nylon gear that engages the toothed brass gear ring on the tuning shaft. Put a tiny drop of grease on that before reassembling and reinstalling the radio. This is the best strategy that I can recommend. It will not harm the radio, and it will probably get the search tune working again. Best of luck!

Question from Paul (1962):

Can anyone share any information on what may be the cause of a problem I am experiencing with the radio in my 62? The radio works. However the Loc/Dist buttons, as well as the floor button, when depressed, cause the radio to shut off. I have to turn it off via the volume knob, then on again to have it play. There seems to be something wrong with the scanning component. 

Reply from John:

If the radio dial is moving when the loc-dist buttons are pressed, it is likely the antenna isn't raised high enough. If raised all the way & the dial moves, may be a bad tube. I had this with a 61 Chrysler, some of the tubes have 2 stages & the 2nd stage control the search tuner.

Question from Zack (1974):

In my 74 Imperial, I have an AM/FM radio, and someone, most likely my brother, who at the time didn't know that turning the dial after it got to the end was bad for it, screwed it up, and so now, all the stations are way off, and I was wondering if there is any way to fix that. Preferably without having to take out the radio. Is there any way to turn it the other way? Or use the pushbutton settings? If I do have to take it out to fix it, I will, but I would like the most simple solution, if there is one. 

Reply from Dick:

Put it on a station that you know the exact frequency of, then remove the radio, take off the case, and without moving the tuning hardware, reposition the pointer on the cord so it reads correctly. (I'm assume here that since this is a 74, it has the old string type dial pointer transport system.)

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