Fix a Cassette Tape Adapter

Fix a Cassette Tape Adaptor

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.

Cassette Tape AdaptorCassette Tape Adaptor Screws

Inside was just a few plastic gears.

Cassette 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.

plastic gear dust

After cleaning this dust off I added some 3 in one oil. You could use any kind of machine oil.

3-in-one oil azega.comoil spill

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.

Oiled Cassette Tape Adaptor

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.

Oiled Cassette Tape Adaptor gears

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.

8 replies on “Fix a Cassette Tape Adapter”

  1. Agustín says:

    Great!, I had the same problem, but maibe my adapter was cheaper than yours cause it happened within the first month. I did what you described and it worked perfectly.

  2. Carlos says:

    It worked perfect for me also! It is a very easy solution to an annoying problem.

  3. jeremy smith says:

    Hmm. The trouble with mine is that the stereo tries to fast forward all the time – it tries to “play” for a few seconds, then tells me it’s going “fast” – therefore it doesn’t register the signal. This doesn’t happen when I’m playing an actual cassette, which works OK. I’m sure some years ago I used to have one of these adapters where you had to set it on “pause” to stop the player straining, and I expect if I could make the stereo pause there would be no problem. The player is a Philips, but that’s all the information I’ve got on it.

  4. admin says:

    I know some tape players used to automatically fast forward when they detected a blank spot on the tape. They could also let you skip songs by fast forwarding from one blank spot to the next. I’m guessing yours is doing the same thing. If you can’t disable this feature in the player, I think the only way around it would be to start your ipod playing before you put the tape in or switched from radio to tape.

  5. geotrick says:

    I did this repair earlier this year. The cable and connector and cable always seem to get weak and lose connectivity. Looked for a replacement with a heavier cable and couldn’t find one. I found the solution by using a USB cable as a replacement and a gold connector for the ipod. They have four individual shielded cables. I used a couple of pieces of shrink wrap to stiffen the cable around the connector. SNAP! and even better way would be to use an extra usb dock cable and solder that to the cassette adapter for line audio.

  6. Jason says:

    Thanks a lot for the help! I just tried the step by step procedures and now I am hoping that it works as I just fixed my adapter right now! I will keep you updated on my next post as soon as I plug it into my stereo system of my 2005 Honda CRV

  7. Mike Duncan says:

    All in all it sounds like he did a fair job on this repair. I would however make a couple of suggestions. First off, you never never want any oil of any kind to drip into your cassette player. This could possibly make several friction surfaces or belts slip and then it’s a trip to the repair shop to fix it. The other thing is that instead of 3in1 oil you should have used a very light grease. I find that sewing machine white grease is just about right. I’ve also used gun grease. Otherwise my congrats on not throwing it away and buying another when a simple bit of care will get it going again. Good job.

  8. Mike Duncan says:

    I’d like to add one more comment. Another issue you might encounter with these units is the friction wheel that is driven from the cassette players spindle shaft. That frictionwheel is located next to the cassette adapters “head” and drives all the little gears that in turn drive the big gears in the unit. If this wheel is slipping you will get a similar fault problem. Clean this with alcohol, dry it and if you have any, treat it with a belt treatment wipe on/ wipe off fluid. This wheel must have limited slip (or no slip) with its connection to the tape players capstan shaft. If the rubber it is made of should become hardened with age then it may be time to get another tape adapter unit or else find a replacement wheel that hasn’t hardened yet. They should last about 10 years of so before hardening. Good luck all.

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