1988 Coupe Antenna Replacement
Last fall our antenna stopped working again. It wouldnít go down. Got it!! The plastic ribbon broke again. So thatís a $25 mast replacement kit. However, this time something was different. I didnít hear the antenna motor whining after I turned off the car. OK, Must be a fuse. Nope, everything was fine. Now it was time to find the antenna relay. On the coupe, itís under the rear plastic molding on the driversí side, under the gray foam wedge. OK, a bad relay is only $6-$7. I could hear the relay click when the car radio was turned on and off. With the use of a trouble light it indicated the relay was in fact working. (Bummer). So I broke down and purchased an antenna upgrade kit last fall for around $157.
Some Corvette history needs to be discussed before I go on with this article. C4 radios installed before 1988 didnít have a ground strap at the top of the antenna mast, and ALL radios installed before 1992 didnít have an antenna ground plane installed (big bummer). This resulted in poor radio reception in some rural areas (i.e. Wasco, LaFox, and Elburn, IL.) I now know why I had reception problems at times. Anyhow, GM resolved the poor reception problems in 1992, by installing both the ground strap and the antenna ground plane.
There are antenna upgrade kits on the market, which include the ground strap and the ground plane, which consists of four wires, which will be affixed to the C4 chassis. Should you choose to do this, contact me and I can tell you what parts you will need. Anyhow, as I said earlier I purchased my replacement antenna kit from Mid America last year which comes as a compete kit with everything you need to install the upgraded antenna. So now letís fast forward to April 2001. The basis antenna removal and installation on the new antenna and associate ground plane will take around three hours.
The instructions to install the antenna are good. However, I can save you a lot of time and tell you the sequence the items should be removed. I thought removal of the muffler would allow access to the antenna as itís above it. However, that didnít allow sufficient room to work on the antenna. So I would suggest the following sequence: 1st Left Rear Wheel, 2nd, Left Rear Wheel inside wheelhouse panel, 3rd Left Rear Wheel side light marker, 4th License Plate, 5th Left Backup Lamp Housing, 6th Left Rear Light Assemblies (2) and 7th the Interior Rear Trim Ė all 3 pieces.
Some Installation Hints:
As you will have the rear hatch open for several hours, either disconnect the car battery, or disconnect the interior light switch on the hatch, (or), us a Ty-Wrap to hold the switch plunger down (so the interior light stay off). *** If you chose to do the latter, donít forget to remove the Ty-Wrap before closing up the rear trim ***.
When you remove the old antenna, tape a 3-ft piece of wire or rope to both the black antenna cable, and the 3-wire power cable. This will enable you feed the new antenna cable and power cable into the car with in seconds. (Failure to do this could result in you spending a lot of time trying to fish the cables through the tight body cavity).
OK Ė the antenna installation is now completed! And my new antenna works!!! As for the reception, I wonít know until I head west of 47 heading to Oregon one of these days. The bad new was one of the wires in the old power cable on the old antenna was pinched between the antenna assembly and the antenna body. Over the years of vibration, with the wire being pinched, the wire finally broke. I wasnít able to see this while the antenna was on the car. However, the new antenna sounds better and goes up-and-down quicker. So I guess, Iíll repair the original one, and keep it around till this one fails 12-13 years from now.
Now, while you have access to all those numerous cavities of the car, I would suggest getting out a bucket of warm water and clean all those areas you normally do not have access to that have collected dirt and grime over the years. Just clean them, donít WAX them, otherwise we wonít hear the end of it from JR.
Now that the carís clean, - I would suggest replacing ALL the light bulbs. The running lights, break lights, license plate lights etc. Our car is 13 yrs old and had all the original bulbs. (Thatís scary). Time to replace ALL the bulbs including the right side as about an hour. It might sound like an over-kill to replace ALL the rear light bulbs. However, should one of them burn out while youíre on the road, itís not an easy task to replace them. (Unless you travel with someone that carries all their tools with them).
The project was fun and didnít take a lot of technical skill. Anyone in the club should be able to perform this upgrade with the use of some basis tools.