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Replacing the standard radio antenna (vanagon)
Year(s):  1980 - 1991
Model/Type:  Vanagon
Bentley Page(s):  Not in Benetly

From:  Joel Walker

Symptom(s):  Broken antenna, stuck antenna, bad antenna

* tools needed:

wide blade screwdriver (for grille holding 'screws')

#2 phillips blade screwdriver (for headlight assembly)

metal coat hanger, the 'old' kind. You need to cut this into four pieces about 4-5 inches long each. This coat hanger (or just metal wire) will be used to take out the radio.

Small crescent wrench (adjustable spanner).

- On the top of the antenna housing, on the slope of the nose, is a little nut looking
thing. It is rounded, but flat on two sides. This thing will unscrew. It's a 'nut' that
holds the antenna tight to the sheet metal. Take it off.

- Remove the front grill. There are five (5) little screw-looking things across the top
of the grill. These are not screws. They just turn 90 degrees to let the grill come
out. I think will they are all lined up vertical (or is it horizontal?), the grill can
be wiggled out. You may have to wiggle one or two as you turn the screw- thingie. Use a
wide-blade screwdriver, not a thin one ... The thin ones will damage the plastic. The
grill will tend to hang up on one or both of the outer edges of the headlights. This is
ok. Just wiggle it past. The grill is held in place at the bottom by some 'fingers'
that fit behind a little metal ridge. Pay attention to this, cause if you don't, you'll
play hell getting it back together. :)

- Remove the left (driver's left) headlight. Unscrew only the four outermost little
screws. Do not unscrew the screws that are close to the glass ... These are aiming
screws. If you leave these alone, you won't have to re-adjust the headlights.

- Now ... You can either disconnect the headlights from the wires (just wiggle the wiring
sockets loose ... They probably will not come loose easily), or just ease the
headlights down and let them hang by the wires. If the later, just be careful not to
bang them around.

- Now you can see the antenna. :) All you have to do now is unplug it from the back of
the radio. :(

* Now is where you need the coat hanger. :) - Inside the car: at the radio. There should
be four little holes, one at each corner of the radio. Insert a piece of wire into each
hole. Push on the wire until you feel resistance. Then push past the resistance. Do all
four wires, then squeeze each pair (left side, right side) together and wiggle the radio
out of the slot. The wires, when pushed in, release some holding tabs on the back of the
radio face plate. Now that the radio is pulled out a little bit, you should be able to
reach the antenna plug. If not, you might have to take the ash tray out and try to get
some fingers down to the back of the radio to help.

- Once the antenna wire is loose, you can pull it out from the outside. Pay attention to
where it is routed: you'll want to feed the new one in the same way.

- You should be able to pull the old antenna down and out through the hole where the
headlight used to be. Then feed the new antenna back up that way. Then feed the antenna
cable wire back through the underside of the dash (can't remember which grommet hole it
goes through). Then back under the dash to feed it over to the back of the radio.

- Maybe before you do this, check to make sure the new antenna cable wire is the same
length as the old one. If it's shorter, you may have to buy an extension.

- Plug it into the back of the radio, then pull the coat hanger pieces out of the radio,
and push the radio back into the slot until it 'clicks'.

- Back outside. Start the 'nut-thingie' onto the top of the antenna and tighten it down.
I put some 3m heavy duty dripchek (i guess silicon seal would work as well) around the
antenna mast before i tightened it down ... Just in case any water might work its way
under that nut-thingie.

- Now put the headlight back in. You didn't lose those screws, did you?

- Now put the grill back in. It helps if you set the bottom edge in all the right places,
then wiggle the grill over the headlights. Check the bottom again (it has a tendency to
hop out as you are wiggling it past the lights) and turn the screw-nuts.

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