Have you ever had a cassette tape adapter that quit working all of a sudden and just keeps getting ejected from your tape deck? Here is an easy and virtually free way to fix your cassette tape adapter and get you back to listening to your iPod, iPhone, or whatever mp3 player you use it for.
I used to have a nice hack in my Explorer where I patched an auxiliary port inline with the build in CD changer to connect my iPod MP3 player. All it required was that you have at least one CD in the changer to trick it into playing, and the aux port hijacked the audio line to inject its own signal.
Eventually, my CD changer died so this hack stopped working and I was looking for another solution. I had no idea what was wrong with my CD changer which needs to send a signal to the radio saying that it’s playing something. My radio has a tape deck that I never used, so I decided to get a cassette tape adapter. This technology has been around for probably 30 years, but since the increase in popularity in iPods, it seems like old technology like this and FM transmitters suddenly doubled and tripled in price.
I ran across a cheap tape adapter on clearance so I thought it would work until I figured out a better way to listen to my iPod (now an iPhone). Now, a year or two later, I’m having problems with my cassette adapter. It seems to happen more when it’s cold, but I think it’s locking up and my tape player will think it’s at the end of the tape and spit it out. When it does that sometimes I can just stick it back in and it starts working again, sometimes I beat it on the dash and it works again for a while, but it takes 30 seconds or so to get it working again, then I have to rewind my podcast or audiobook that I’m listening to, and all this is dangerous to do while driving.
I never want to spend money if I don’t have to, and I’m a curious person anyway, so I took it apart to see if there was something I could do to fix it.
Inside was just a few plastic gears.
It is a pretty simple mechanism that tricks the cassette player into thinking there is an endless tape playing. The plastic gears look like they’re in pretty good shape, but there is no sort of lubrication and it’s just plastic rubbing on plastic.
Lifting up the gears you can see plastic dust where the gears have word down a little.
After cleaning this dust off I added some 3 in one oil. You could use any kind of machine oil.
First, I tried dripping some on, but it was too hard to control and I didn’t want a bunch of excess oil dripping down into my tape deck. (although it probably wouldn’t hurt it) Then I soaked some oil into a paper towel and rubbed it on the gears and all the areas where the plastic parts rub together.
After everything was well coated, I put it back together. This is where it helps to have a picture or some other method of remembering where all the gears went.
After putting it all back together, it’s back in my Explorer and working like new. I think it’s even a little more quiet than it was. This free fix just took a few minutes and saved me the expense and time of looking for a new converter.
Let me know in the comments below if you tried this or another fix and how it worked for you.