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Darcy, GM technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 24
Experience:  3 years GM Technical Experience
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2003 CTS: goes static randomly..dash..antenna..back of the stereo

Customer Question

The radio in my 2003 CTS goes static randomly. i pulled the dash apart thinking that the antenna might have been loose were it plugs into the back of the stereo. but unfortunately it was snug. what else could possibly be wrong. if its not the antenna could something be wrong internally.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Darcy replied 8 years ago.



For your vehicle there is a Bullitine on your complaint. This has to do with your rear window defroster grid. The rear defroster grid can have tiny cracks within the grid which will end up randomly distorting or making your radio static. If you would like further information on how to repair this complain please respond.

Darcy and 2 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
so how do i find out if it is the rear defroster grid for sure. and is it something i can fix myself or will i have to take it to the dealer.
Expert:  Darcy replied 8 years ago.
I can send you the inspection instructions, if you think you are able to perform the inspection then try but i would recomend you bring the vehicle to the dealer. If performed wrong you dont want to damage the interior trim materials.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
i guess send me the inspection instructions and i will decide if i want to even mess with it. thank you
Expert:  Darcy replied 8 years ago.


Some customers may comment that the radio has poor reception or radio static/increased interference when the rear window defogger is turned on. Also, some rear window defogger grids may be inoperative.


This condition may be due to microscopic cracks in the electrically heated grids of the rear window defogger. These cracks may cause electrical interference when the rear defogger is on and this could affect radio reception.


The addition of vertical grid lines to the heated back window defogger circuits has made it difficult to detect broken defogger grid lines. In the past, it was a simple matter to use a voltmeter to check the continuity of each grid line in order to locate a non-functional line. New design back windows have two vertical grid lines that connect all of the horizontal grid lines together, thereby providing alternate routes for the electrical current to follow. This makes the old test method ineffective.

Materials Required

Permatex Quick Grid, P/N 12346001, or equivalent
A small ball of fine steel wool Type 00, or
Optional -- A strip of liquid crystal heat sensitive paper, 51 mm x 305 mm (2 in x 12 in) or similar size (Contact Edmund Scientific at(NNN) NNN-NNNNfor part number CR30723-70 or go to, or
Optional -- A portable infrared thermometer, GE-46819, available from Kent-Moore (1-800-345-2233), or equivalent.


There are three distinct zones across the back window that must be checked. They are:

the driver's side outboard of the two vertical lines
the passenger side outboard of the two vertical lines
the central zone that falls between the two vertical lines

To detect a broken grid line in any of the above three zones and to isolate the exact location of the break, perform the following:


    Approved safety glasses and gloves should be worn when performing this procedure to reduce the chance of personal injury.
    Cover the rear shelf area to prevent damage to the interior trim material.


  1. Start the engine and turn on the back window defogger.

    Important: The first place to check should be the driver side segment 2 to 3 lines up from the bottom about 380-385 mm (15-15.2 in) from the buss bar.

  2. Take the ball of fine steel wool and twist one end to a point. Move the point slowly across each grid line. Be sure to start at the far side of the zone and move it to the opposite side of the zone. When you bridge the grid line break with the steel wool, you will see a small spark. Repeat the test over the same area to be sure you have accurately located the break. Mark the exact location of the grid line break. Repeat this portion of the test for each grid line. If you do not see a spark at any point, it is possible that there are two breaks in the same line and zone. Close visual inspection using a magnifying glass may be the only way to locate breaks in this case.
  3. The following are provided as a alternative way to detect a non-functional grid line. If available, use in addition to the steel wool.
    3.1. Method using liquid crystal heat sensitive paper.

    Important: The first part of the test must be completed quickly before the entire surface of the back window becomes warm.


    3.1.1. From outside the vehicle, place the heat sensitive paper (dull surface in contact with the glass) against the top driver side grid line. Start the engine and turn on the back window defogger. A distinct color change will take place at each conductive grid line. Repeat for the bottom grid lines until they have all been checked in the driver side zone.
    3.1.2. Repeat the process for the passenger side and center area zones.
    3.1.3. If no color change is noted for a grid line, place a crayon or china marker check mark beside it. Mark each grid line in the zone where it is non-conductive and therefore not heating up. More than one broken grid line may be found.
    3.2. Method using a portable infrared thermometer.
    3.2.1. Start the engine and turn on the rear back window defogger.
    3.2.2. From inside the vehicle, start at the top driver side grid line and slowly run the portable infrared thermometer vertically down the rear window contacting each grid line. You should be able to see a district variation in temperature readings.
    3.2.3. Mark each grid line in the zone where it is non-conductive and, therefore, not heating up. More than one broken grid line may be found.
    3.2.4. Repeat the process for the passenger side and center area zones.
  4. Use Permatex Quick Grid, P/N 12346001, or equivalent, to repair each broken grid line. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Wait 24 hours before turning the defogger on, or the repair can be fast cured using a heat gun, 260°C-371°C (500°F-700°F). Hold the heat gun within 25-51 mm (1-2 in) from the repair point for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Recheck the grid line with the heat sensitive paper or a portable infrared thermometer to ensure that the line is now functional and that the repair was successful.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
<p>this says that it is static when the rear defroster is turned on but mine is static even when it is turned off</p><p> </p>
Expert:  Darcy replied 8 years ago.
I would still check to see if this is causing your complaint and i will check into this further.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
ok thank you very much
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
is there anymore news about the static radio yet?
Expert:  Darcy replied 8 years ago.
I have been researching the complaint and only two things have come up so far at this time. One is applying di-electric grease to the attena for roof mounted attena's. The other is checking the programming for the radio. There may be an updated program for the radio. I will continue to research this and your pateince.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
<p>has anything else come up on the radio</p><p> </p>