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2009 S80 AM Reception - Very Bad

Old 06-28-2009, 09:36 PM
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Post 2009 S80 AM Reception - Very Bad

Just bought a 2009 S80T5. AM Radio reception is typically poor-to-non-existant (full of static and noise). FM receptionis fine. Service Manager claims to know nothing about a service bulletin. Does anyone know the answer? Thanks for your help.
Old 07-01-2009, 04:10 PM
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Thumbs up AM radio

Hi there
Just want to let you know,I suffer also with the poor am reception.Was told that after we put the tint on the windows makes it even worse because there's a built in antennas in the windows and the bumper.When the wife took the car for repair at the dealer as they were pulling out of the parking lot they smashed the rear bumper,after that it got even worse and a few trips to the dealer they discovered that the antenna was not connected when they worked on the bumper.I am so glad they went out of business !!!!!!!
Anyway,my car is older than yours but I guess they have not made any improvements...good luck !!!!
2003 S80..2.9 non-turbo..53000miles
Old 07-01-2009, 06:38 PM
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I have had 2 new volvos, a 2000 s80 and an 01 s60 am radio SUCHED in both of them, dealer acted like it was jsut me, till the warrenty ran out, try another car on the lot, do not let them get away with it, heck, I had a hyndi loaner that had a better radio!
Old 07-09-2009, 10:19 AM
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Try this:
Worked for me.

Press the door locks!
Old 07-30-2009, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Weldjame View Post
Just bought a 2009 S80T5. AM Radio reception is typically poor-to-non-existant (full of static and noise). FM receptionis fine. Service Manager claims to know nothing about a service bulletin. Does anyone know the answer? Thanks for your help.
I've just bought a new 2009 T6 S80. I'm having the same problem of extremely poor AM reception. Called the dealer and waiting for an answer. Let me know if you have a solution.

Old 07-30-2009, 02:12 PM
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Just got a 2009 S80. Very poor AM reception. Called dealer. Not a typical problem. Dealer set service appointment. Dealer has indicated that problem probably with poor electrical connection, and after service (Which may include ordering parts), the problem WILL BE corrected.
Old 07-30-2009, 07:04 PM
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Many Volvo's suffer from poor AM radio reception. A common fix for this is to install a brass strip between the antenna cable connection at the antenna module. The brass strip is available from the dealership. I'm not sure if this applies to the newer S80, but I believe I have put one in a 2008 model.

If the problem cant be diagnosed immediately by your dealer, be patient. There will be a fix. Technicians don't have a magic wand they can wave to make your car perfect.
Old 08-02-2009, 01:15 PM
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so not to quote jeremy clarkson but "who listens to the light program!"
Old 03-26-2012, 05:22 PM
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Default Volvo DESIGNED bad appetite for aftermarket radios

My aftermarket radio had OK FM reception and horrible AM reception. After trying the 'brass strip' thing... and cleaning all the battery terminals, and ground straps and anything else I could think of...



This seems to be VOLVO's fault...

I have an aftermarket radio. FM reception is OK not great. AM is non-existent unless I am close to the city where the transmitter is located.

Unless the engine is not running... Then the reception is AWESOME. Distant statiions.... beautiful!

But when the engine is running, next to nothing besides very local stations. It wasn't 'noise'... not an alternator whine. Not a spark plug static issue....

Hmmmm.... it gets better.

Engine off. Great reception.
Start engine. Great reception for 2 or 3 seconds, then it disappears. Hmmmm...
With the engine at idle, turn on the high beams, butt warmers, defroster... BINGO! Great reception!!!
Turn stuff off... dies.
Turn stuff back on? BINGO! Great reception.
Leave stuff on. Rev engine. Dies.
Back to idle - comes back.

What's different about these scenarios? THE VOLTAGE in the car.

Engine off - 12V.
Running idle - 13.6.
Turn on stuff... at idle, drops to 13 volts.
Rev engine - 13.8 volts.
Idle, ON. Revv... OFF.

So I can listen to AM if I turn on all the electrical devices and sit at a red light. Otherwise, not so much.


I have a V70. The antenna is above the driver's side rear glass. I tried the "brass stript" thing. I bought a new antenna amp and tried it. Same. Bummer.

I dug out the stock radio - reception is AWESOME all the time.

Hmmmm.... So... something is very different with stock radio vs aftermarket...

THere is a lead from the radio that is referred to as "power antenna". In some cars it makes the power antenna go up (like in my old 760). In the case of the V70, it powers the antenna amp.

Measured the voltage at the antenna amp. With my aftermarket radio, it was 12, 13, 13.8 as described above. With the stock radio - it was 10 VOLTS! TEN! Not 12... not 13 like ALL THE OTHER ELECTRICAL DEVICES in the car... oh, no... this thing likes a steady diet of TEN VOLTS. Holy voltage regulator, Batman... THE RADIO IS REDUCING THE VOLTAGE on the POWER ANTENNA lead TO 10 VOLTS!

What the HECK was Volvo thinking???? Everything ELSE in the car runs on 12 volts.

It appears that the amp drops out if the voltage is too high. It wants 10 volts, and if you feed it 13.5 or more, the amp shuts off. It'll work at 12... it'll work at 13... but anything over 13.5???? Sorry, Charlie.



So - this stupid design choice requires that the voltage be reduced on the Power Antenna lead. . Maybe it can be done with the right value of a resistor, or with a voltage regulator.

So it appears that Volvo specifically engineered a disincentive to using an aftermarket radio.

Old 03-27-2012, 05:35 AM
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In the new gen S80 there is a anteanna connection in the c pillar, this is a known problem, if your dealer is saying otherwise find a new one. The connection corrodes. The internal "ladder" something or other is also known to go bad. My radio was replaced after no AM reception and this contact was cleaned. The only antenea on this car is the roof mounted multi media. I have always had excellent radio reception (AM) in our Volvos, now the S80 is no different
Old 03-28-2012, 05:46 AM
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Yep... found those connectors, too. Cleaned them all. Found the other antenna in the rear bumper, too... still not sure what that one is for because it doesn't seem to make any difference whether or not it's connected.

At this point, I figure that Volvo owes me about six hours of my life back... seeing as they DELIBERATELY designed it this way.

I've seen many posts about "I go over a bump and the reception improves" which is your situation - a dirty connection someplace. This is why your grandfather whacked the TV... dirty connections on the tubes.

I've also seen many posts about "if I turn on enough electrical stuff the reception improves" which is my situation. Many folks could get the reception to improve by turning on the defroster.

I thought that my antenna amp was bad, so I bought another. When it did the same thing, I dug deeper and found this odd 10 volt situation. And just to be sure I measured the voltage at the stock radio end, not the antenna amp end. The radio really is spitting out 10 volts on the power antenna lead, not 12.

This "proprietary engineering" thing is really annoying. It's bad enough that Volvo won't tell me what many of the OBD codes mean ("... you have to bring it in to the dealer for a diagnosis...") but THIS is astounding...

I wonder how many thousands of dollars have been spent at dealers trying to troubleshoot lousy radio reception???

My local dealer was helpful with this so far - I bought the $4 brass strip and they told me in detail how to install it, but they didn't mention this. I wonder if they are aware of it? I wouldn't think so. But I'll find out.

Last edited by as400jockey; 03-28-2012 at 05:49 AM.
Old 03-28-2012, 05:37 PM
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Default This just in... it's FIXED

DISCLAIMER - this fix is posted here with no "warranty"... do your own calculations and do this at your own risk....

Having said that...

So I needed to drop the voltage going to the antenna amp from 12/13.8 to about 10. Guessing that the little amp can't draw much, I guessed that the if the amp was about 200 ohm, that it would then draw, at 12 volts, about 60ma. That seemed like a good ballpark.

If it was 200 ohm, a 50 ohm resistor in line would drop the voltage by about 20 %, so from 13.5 down to 11 or so.

I went to Radio Shack and bought some wirewound 10 watt resistors - a couple 10 ohm and a couple 50 ohm. I could mix and match if needed to get 5, 20, 25, 100 and obviously 10 and 50.

The first one I tried was the 50 ohm. Bingo! With the engine off - about 9.8 volts. With the engine running, about 10.5.

My aftermarket radio now gets beautiful AM and FM reception at all times.

The 10 watt resistor should be way overkill, but you don't want it getting hot. Right now it's about 250 ohm total (50 for the resistor and 200 for the amp), so about 55MA (13.8v / 250 ohm = .055A). The 50 ohm resistor, then will be disspating about 0.15 watts (I squared x R = .055 x .055 x 50 = 0.15 watts. It shouldn't even get warm. All the same, I'll drive around a couple days and check it out.

All I did was splice in the resistor on the BLUE wire - the one called "power antenna".

The part number for the resistor at Radio Shack is 271-0133 .

On a side note, I stopped at the dealer today to discuss this with the service dude. When I told him the story, he sounded familiar with it, and then backpedaled. I told him that I thought that this was a read "D--K move on Volvo's part - engineering a failure for an after market radio....

That's beyond "proprietary"... that's just MEAN.

I will be contacting Volvo corporate to express my extreme displeasure at their sneaky BS...

Old 10-27-2012, 08:30 PM
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Nice catch on this unique bit of quirkiness. My 2001 v70 has the same issue.
The wiring diagrams do not show the amp being powered by the stock radio.

So, did you wire the dropping resistor up to the connector in the center console, or did you find a 12-Volt source in the door pillar where the amp is mounted?

And did you ever measure the actual current drawn by the amp at 10 VDC? I ask because I'd rather use a Zener than a voltage divider, call me "old-fashioned and analog" if you must.

Last edited by packetfire; 10-27-2012 at 08:32 PM.
Old 10-27-2012, 09:40 PM
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can you take some pictures as to what you did to fix the AM issue ..i too have the similar problem but mine aint that worse i want rectify it now before it gets worse
Old 11-03-2012, 03:15 PM
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Default Thanks for the post - same problems and diagnosis

Thanks for this post. I have a 2006 S60 and installed an Alpine IVE-W535 and had all the same symptoms and was actually thinking the same, it must be related to the voltage, but why would that be.

i did install the brass strip, no difference.
Tried a number of different grounding points, no difference.
used both the blue antenna wire from the radio and the blue/white aux wire. both of these had the voltage as you mentioned, car off around 12v, car running 13.5v.

I have pulled the radio so many times, rechecked connections etc, at least 3 days work, and have managed to trip the air bag light, so now need to go to the dealer to get that reset.

I was thinking along the same lines with a resistor, so thanks for your calculations and testing, I will try that this afternoon.

And yeah, why in hell would that amp only work at a lower voltage.....baffling. I have always found volvo dealers honest and helpful, I will talk to them about this as well.
Old 11-04-2012, 08:27 AM
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I went to Radio Shack and bought a 50 ohm, 10-Watt resistor, and wired it in series with the feed from the radio that powers external amps and antennas (between the powered wire and the Volvo harness connector to the amp).

I got just under 10 volts with the key in position II, and got much better reception, getting both HD-FM and HD-AM, even from weak college stations. So I called it "good".

After driving a bit, I lost the AM, but not the FM, so I am guessing that I also need the "brass strip" fix.
Old 11-04-2012, 05:14 PM
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Default follow up to resistor instal

So went to radio shack, or the source as it's now called in Canada.
I was thinking a 12VDC voltage regulator would be best but they did not have any, best I could do was two 100ohm 1 watt resistor, so put those in parallel between the Alpine head unit aux out and the blue wire at the connector to the rear amp. I previously put on some quick connects on those leads, so I just added similar quick connects to the resistor, and so then it was a simple insert behind the radio.

End result - it now works great. I did not get a chance to measure the voltages, I should have, but wife was in a hurry.

As for the brass grounding instal, I suggest you do it, very easy. There is one torx bolt on the rear panel (at least on my 2006 S60 behind a little SRS panel) then move the rubber trim around the door where the panel meets it, and then just pop the panel back and then slide forward - very easy. The brass mod is then dead simple.

I bought my radio online from Crutchfield, they also supplied the dash kit and adapter leads, plus the ASWC steering wheel volume up/down controller. For the most part they were extremely helpful, but unaware of the voltage requirements for the antenna amp. They are now though.

2006 S60 - 233,000KM
my daughter has my old '98 S70 - 244,000 miles, and she loves the car
Old 07-05-2016, 09:17 PM
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Default Static issues on the AM band SOLVED!

I know that this will sound crazy, but it actually works; I have a 2009 S80 T6 that has had horrible static issues on the AM band. After several unsuccessful visits to the dealer, I was given this solution by a local car stereo shop; when you are listening to AM and you are experiencing the unbearable static, turn on then off the rear defogger and it suddenly the static is gone! Try it yourself...what have you got to lose?
Old 09-02-2016, 07:28 PM
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Default Volvo conspiracy unproven

Originally Posted by as400jockey View Post
So - this stupid design choice requires that the voltage be reduced on the Power Antenna lead. . Maybe it can be done with the right value of a resistor, or with a voltage regulator.
So it appears that Volvo specifically engineered a disincentive to using an aftermarket radio.
I doubt that this is a Volvo-conspiracy. It's normal that an r.f. amplifier would require a regulated power rail, rather than randomly fluctuating 12 to 14+ volts. So maybe you think this regulator should have been in the amplifier module itself? Possible problems with that are lack of space in the amplifier package, or the varying extra heat load from the regulator, which needs to drop several volts across it.

And the stock radio probably already has regulated 10V available inside, so why send crappy power to the remote amplifier so it has to do it again?

Probably the aftermarket radio also has regulated power inside. If it is not too difficult to open, and you can confirm that it has a power rail near +10V, then maybe you only have to correct its "design error" by moving the wire for the power output to the amplifier so that it comes from that regulated source. (Maybe the aftermarket radio has a TSB for this! :)

Last edited by VolvoMasochist; 09-03-2016 at 03:24 PM.
Old 09-03-2016, 07:45 AM
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Lightbulb 2009 S80 T6 AM Reception

Since new I had issues with my radio's AM reception. The dealer replaced the radio once while it was still under warranty. Since then, the problem has re-appeared. Here is an unorthodox solution that has worked for me; when the AM reception is bad, turn on and off the rear defogger switch a few times and for some mysterious reason, the bad reception is gone. I've had to repeat this procedure every once in a while, but it continues to work for me.

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