July 7, 2009

Volvo Radio Light Bulb Replacement

For S70/V70/850/960/S90 SC-816 Radio, By Anthony


Okay, so apparently Volvo dealerships don’t carry these bulbs (which, by the way are the same as the ones in most of the dash switches) and if you’re a little “retentive” like me, a dash light that doesn’t work is really annoying. I just happened to buy an extra bulb when I picked up a replacement one for a clock light on a 2002 Honda Accord at the Honda dealership the other day. When one of my Volvo’s radio lights went out yesterday, it made me wonder.. You may have read on some sites that you can purchase a replacement at Radio Shack, but supposedly it has to be modified and doesn’t match the other bulbs in brightness.

This bulb fits perfectly and is exactly the same brightness as the original Volvo radio bulbs! Just remember to remove the blue rubber gel on the original bulb and install it over the new bulb. Relax and don’t be intimidated! This is actually very easy even for a novice and should only take about 20 minutes total! Purchase a replacement light bulb for a ’98 ’02 model Honda Accord clock from any Honda dealership for approximately $3.50 ea. (See product number in photo of package below.) Other models/years/makes may also offer this type of bulb for sale, but this one works perfectly and I checked with two Honda dealers here and they both had them in stock (no ordering!).

Tools needed

To remove radio:

  • Small tool to press in tabs on side of the front of radio (such as a key, paperclip, small flat-head screwdriver)

To open radio & replace light bulb:

  • Phillips-head screwdriver (small)
  • Flat-head screwdriver (small)
  • Small towel or cloth on work surface to prevent scratching the faceplate


NOTE: The radio anti-theft code is required any time power is disconnected. Take a moment to ensure you have your radio code, or contact a Volvo dealership or “Volvo connected” independent mechanic to obtain your code. The radio will not operate again without this code! Take note of which area of the radio is not lit before you remove the radio so you can locate the bulb that needs replacing, if you don’t want to replace all five bulbs. For example, mine was the upper left around the Power, FM1 and FM2 buttons). These are very tiny bulbs and it is almost impossible to see if a bulb is blown when it’s removed.

Press in the tabs on each side of the radio with a small instrument, being careful not to scratch. The tabs will click in and then partially slide out. Grasp the tabs and gently pull the rest of the way out until they click into their fully extended position.

Continue pulling toward you until the radio slides out of the dash. The wires behind the radio have plenty of length to allow easy access to the back of the radio to disconnect them. The two black plugs have a release tab, and the antenna and other cable simply pull straight out. If you’re having difficulty with the other cable, it helps to twist gently until it is easier to pull out. Note that these wires only fit into their respective holes and the black plugs only fit one way, so it is not necessary to mark them. Relaxdidn’t I say this is easy? I recommend taking the radio inside to a well-lit area. Remove the volume knob by gently pulling it straight out from the radio. The knob will simply pop off. Remove the Phillips-head screw on the middle plastic tab on the left and right side of the radio, just in front of the plastic slide rails. (Screwdriver pointing to right side plastic tab screw shown below)

Then remove the screw from the metal tab on the right side, just above the plastic tab. There are a total of three (3) screws to remove. (See photo above and below; below shows screws already removed.)

On the top of the radio, at the front, you will need to pull or cut the clear tape back away from these plastic tabs. (See below.) There are similar plastic tabs on each side of the radio. Gently slide a flat-head screwdriver under all the plastic tabs on all four sides and pry up while pulling forward on the faceplate to remove. Use caution and make sure you’ve released all the tabs before forcing the faceplate off.

You can either remove the electronic ribbon by gently pulling it straight out of its connection on the faceplate (relax, it will go back in!), or tilt the faceplate down onto a work surface to access the back side of the faceplate. Here’s where the towel/cloth comes in to keep from scratching it (see below.)

On the backside of the faceplate you will see the underside of the base of the five bulbs, which look like plastic Phillips-head screws with a wire in two of the grooves (see below). Insert a flat-head screwdriver into the slot without the wires and twist counter-clockwise turn, then lift out. Note that in this photo I have already removed the bulb I needed to replace, which was the upper bulb by the volume knob. (See original bulb and gel on left side of photo.)

Then carefully remove the blue rubber gel from the old bulb. Slide the blue gel onto the new bulb and insert into the slot. In my installation, I noticed that the Honda bulb’s base seemed just slightly larger than the original bulb, in that it had to be pressed into the hole rather than just dropping into it. However, it fits perfectly. Tighten by twisting clockwise turn with a flat-head screwdriver. Reinstall the faceplate by simply snapping it onto the radio and ensure the plastic clips are attached to their original positions (don’t forget to attach the electronic ribbon by sliding it back into its slot, if you removed it) and replacing the three (3) screws you removed. Then replace the volume knob by holding it on the metal volume stem and turning the knob until it aligns with its groove on the stem (you will feel the knob start to slip onto the stem when it aligns), then press fully onto the stem.

Take the radio back to the car and attach the cables and plugs. Align with the rails and slide back into the dash until the latches click into place. When you turn on the ignition/radio, “CODE” will display prompting you to enter your four-digit anti-theft code. Use the 1 6 station preset buttons to enter your code. Switch on the lights to see your handiwork.

Note the lights’ brightness and color are even across the panel. All this for $3.50 and just a little work! Comment on this bulb replacement fix

Tags 35505-S84-N01, radio bulbs, SC-815, SC-816, SC-901, Tutorial
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