Tips on Cleaning Your Car's Sound System
RCA and Other Connectors
Corrosion, moisture, dirt. They all can be present, and they’re all easy to deal with. Check your RCA connectors once a year. A simple unplugging usually is enough to clean them out, but if they’re looking grungy, denatured alcohol (98% Isopropyl) and some cotton swab will do the trick.
Dust buildup over time will affect a speaker’s performance, though this applies more to tweeters than woofers. In any case it looks sloppy, so here are two options. Best would be compressed air in a spray can, the same kind used to clean computers and practically every other piece of electronic equipment. The low pressure spurt of air is enough to remove surface accumulation, gently. You could use a compressor, but only if you can reduce the air pressure to a gentle summer's breeze. Too high a pressure, and you could be saying adios to a diaphragm. A dust cloth is another option to use on woofers.
The venerable cotton swab and alcohol (98% Isopropyl), or contact cleaner, will get the job done nicely on amp terminals. Painted amps can be cleaned using a mild cleaner that is sprayed onto a cloth. Under no circumstances spray anything directly onto an amp. Under no circumstances spray anything directly onto an amp. That was not a typo. Yes, we repeated ourselves. The same procedure also applies to raw metal amps, but you can apply a little metal polish, such as Flitz, to make them sparkle. Finally, if you run bare wire into terminals and it becomes corroded, you can cut off the corrosion and re-strip the wire, but make sure you have enough length to work with before you start hacking away.
Any dust is easily removed with your handy dandy spray can of compressed air. But what about all of those grimy little fingerprints. We know they’re not yours. Here's what to not to do first. No solvent. No alcohol. You don't want anything in that circuit board, but you can use electronic switch cleaner that is plastic safe sprayed directly if the buttons are sticky.
To our knowledge, the vacuum cleaner is not part of a car’s audio system, but we give it a separate heading for a good reason. Don’t use one on your speakers. It’s not worth risking a ruptured diaphragm.
Follow these few simple procedures, take your time, and your car's audio system will shine the way it was designed to.
This article was last modified Mar 8, 2014