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What should you do if your vehicle’s radio is locked out?

Aug 28, 2015 | Automotive

By Tom Torbjornsen

Dear Tom,
I own a 2004 Suzuki Forenzo. I inadvertently got the radio on security lockout and I am unable to find the code to unlock it. The radio won’t play and neither will the CD player. The owner’s manual is of no help. How do I get the darn things working again?
Linda from Salt Lake City, UT

Apparently there was a loss of power to the radio that caused the problem. First, find out what caused the power loss and repair it. As far as the lockout code, the only thing you can do is call your local dealer or automotive electronics shop to get the code so that you can turn the radio and CD player back on. Once you get the code, write it down and put it in a safe place so that you have it for possible future events. It will cost you in the range of $50 to $100. Sorry.

This is a very frustrating experience, but there are precautions you can take to prevent it from happening.

Why a lockout code?
A lockout code protects against radio theft. If a thief disconnects the radio, the code locks the radio up, rendering it useless. However, it’s not much of a safeguard because the thief usually doesn’t know that the code has been tripped until he powers up the radio after he has removed it from the vehicle.

What caused the loss of power to the radio?
I would first check battery terminal connections, and I might go so far as to check the radio connections to make sure there is no intermittent connection causing loss of voltage to the radio. Why do this first? Because the radio will get locked out again if the root cause of the problem is the loss of voltage.

Is there any way to get the code other than paying for it? Can I get it on the Internet?
As for getting the radio code to unlock the radio from a source other than the carmaker, the radio manufacturer or an automotive electronics house, I am not aware of any. People have searched the Internet to no avail. Remember, this is proprietary information that must be paid for one way or another. And it’s going to cost you anywhere from 50 to 100 bucks. So make sure you write the code down somewhere so you have it if the radio locks out again.

What happens if I change the battery?
The radio will lock out again if you change the battery. However, there is a way to protect against radio lockout in the event of a battery changeover. Go to your local auto parts store and buy a memory retainer tool. This device plugs into the 12-power source in your car. If you have no 12-volt power source then a cigarette lighter will do. A 9-volt battery plugs into it at the other end. When plugged into a 12-volt power source, this tool will provide enough battery voltage to retain all computer memory, clock and radio settings, and most importantly, radio lockout codes.

‘Til next time … keep rollin’.

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