We’ve all had to yank a radio, right? Whether a fuse gave up, a new one’s going in, or you’re retrofitting your factory stereo with modern bells and whistles, eventually you’ll probably have to wrestle with your dashboard. While modern cars cache their radio mounting hardware behind trim panels with fragile clips, it wasn’t so long ago that many radios were held into dashboards with tabs, requiring special radio removal tools to free them from their plastic cages.
The last-minute way of removing an older radio involves driving to the local auto parts store and spending $10 on some uncomfortable crap that might fit a handful of models, or, if you’re dealing with a Ford or certain Saabs, hacking up an old coat hanger. However, there is a better way, and innovation in laziness will deliver it right to your front door.
For an extra $5, you can get a set of tools with fancy-ass plastic-dipped handles that fits damn near anything. Are you the weirdo working on a Skoda in America? First off, we applaud you. Secondly, this set of tools will probably fit that car’s factory radio. How do I know? Every pair of tools in the kit is labeled by manufacturer, a cheap and genius move that prevents any incidents involving sticking the wrong tool in the wrong hole.
Sure, my particular tool kit comes in a blue roll and this set comes in a red roll, but as far as I can work out, they’re otherwise identical — the same tools made in the same factory in the same country exported from the same port and mailed directly to your doorstep. And you know what? They’re rather nice to use. Sure, the tabs on the sides of each radio may require a little persuasion to release some of these tools, but the plastic-dipped handles on most of these tools completely redeem this set by saving your hands. They made installing an aux port in my 1999 Porsche Boxster nearly effortless and ultra-quick, something I can’t say of the tools you’d find at your local auto parts store.
Oh, and even if you don’t own an older car, you might still need a set of radio keys. Weirdly, DIN radio tools didn’t go the way of the dodo once infotainment came in. Many late-aughts Audi MMI units still need radio keys for removal, including the units in Q5s and B8 A4s. Those are literally previous-generation cars that aren’t even that old!
It’s cliched to say that a good set of radio tools takes the pain out of a head unit swap, but in this case, it literally does. I can’t recommend picking this set up enough. Just remember: Use your radio removal tools for good, not evil.
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(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)
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