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How Do I Disable The Antenna Motor?

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2022 8:41 pm
by Roreri
With my JDM ST185, I have next to zero use for the antenna. The radio frequencies are 76 to 90 FM Japanese bands--I can get one US station in the small overlap that I have no use for--and I'm well too far away from Japan to receive anything. ; )

This ordinarily would not be a problem, as I only play cassette tapes or use a bluetooth cassette adapter to play music from my phone. It used to be, that I had set the head unit to TAPE and when ejecting a tape the antenna would not retract or extend.

The problem is, the head unit started reverting to FM when a tape is ejected (or not) and the antenna motor started taking to activating and making an ugly sound for what feels like forever as it rubs itself silly against the antenna but getting nothing done. I figure the time has come to deactivate it.

I was surprised nobody had posted a how to, seeing how prevalent this problem has got to be. I read that I could cut the blue wire coming from the head unit, and then cap it, but I don't want to get it wrong. I also read that there's a wire that can be unplugged at the base of the antenna motor.

I poked around at the rear interior trying to get the paneling off, but I didn't get very far before I was prying at it and then realizing I could break it pretty easily.

Any tips? Maybe I should come at it from the wheel well?

Re: How Do I Disable The Antenna Motor?

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2022 9:21 pm
by underscore
The easiest way is probably unplugging power at the antenna. You can do it up at the stereo, but the trim panel surrounding it is notoriously fragile so I try not to remove it more than necessary. The panels in the rear half of the car remove from the front to the back, so remove the panel that covers the whole rear of the trunk first, then the side panel covering the antenna area.

Re: How Do I Disable The Antenna Motor?

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2022 11:46 pm
by Roreri
Thanks much! And I wholeheartedly agree. Digging around on the dashboard sounds like a recipe for an ugly dashboard. Besides, once you get in there, what are you supposed to do, cut the wire and then cap it? Sounds pretty lame.

The procedure, for anyone who searches for this in the future, is like this:

With rear seats folded down and the carpet of the cargo area removed...

1. Detach the rear panel on the aft wall of the cargo area. There are two plastic expansion screws up high one on the left one on the right--be careful with these as they will strip. There are two cap screws down low one on the left, one on the right. Take the panel out.

2. Unsecure the left interior panel of the cargo area. There is a screw down on the floor where the seat back carpet is. Look under it, and take out the screw. Then you will be able to pry out the left interior panel.

3. Detach the white connector from the antenna motor. It is down low and more toward the aft. There is a connector up high that goes to the interior light (as a matter of curiosity, a 2020 Rav4 uses the exact same interior light with toggle switch as a 1992 ST 185 so let's hear it for Toyota keeping it simple).

Detached Antenna Motor Wiring 10JUN2022.JPG

4. Test by turning the ignition switch to on and toggling the radio to FM. Antenna motor should not actuate.

Re: How Do I Disable The Antenna Motor?

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2022 1:00 am
by 93celicaconv
You could put in a USDM OEM head unit to get all the US AM/FM stations you want. And, simply getting a replacement mast would allow the antenna to raise & lower as it should (it sounds to me like the antenna whip broke inside the coil of the power unit). I have fixed many of these - they are pretty simple to repair. But, if you have no need, then it's not worth fixing something you don't intend to use anyway.

Re: How Do I Disable The Antenna Motor?

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2022 1:14 am
by Tippo
93celicaconv wrote:You could put in a USDM OEM head unit to get all the US AM/FM stations you want. And, simply getting a replacement mast would allow the antenna to raise & lower as it should (it sounds to me like the antenna whip broke inside the coil of the power unit). I have fixed many of these - they are pretty simple to repair. But, if you have no need, then it's not worth fixing something you don't intend to use anyway.


I actually bought one of those ebay replacement ones since my gears are all stripped out. Going to install when I get some time. Right now I'm using a stand-in mast, but I like the OEM retractable!

Re: How Do I Disable The Antenna Motor?

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2022 1:43 am
by Roreri
93celicaconv wrote:You could put in a USDM OEM head unit to get all the US AM/FM stations you want. And, simply getting a replacement mast would allow the antenna to raise & lower as it should (it sounds to me like the antenna whip broke inside the coil of the power unit). I have fixed many of these - they are pretty simple to repair. But, if you have no need, then it's not worth fixing something you don't intend to use anyway.


Maybe one day, sure. That sounds excellent. But for now at least it doesn't sound like it's trying to chew its way out of the ass end of the car.

Re: How Do I Disable The Antenna Motor?

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2022 1:42 pm
by underscore
Roreri wrote:Besides, once you get in there, what are you supposed to do, cut the wire and then cap it? Sounds pretty lame.


Many people would, but I'd de-pin it from the connector and then put heat shrink over the pin so it's easily reversable.