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I have a 2020 Aviator and listen to AM.  I like talk radio.  The static is terrible and does not happen on any other station.  I have driven a Corsair and an MKX and they do not have the problem.  I drove another Aviator and the same thing happened.  I have a Mercedes and a Mazda and there is no static on them either.  Any thoughts or has anyone else had this problem? Thank you

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Is it happening in a particular area?  I listen to AM a lot and it really depends on the area as far as interference goes.  For instance, solar farms spew out all kinds of nasty RF interference that messes with AM for miles around.

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The other thing that comes to mind, since it's happening in one car and not in several others, is that you might have a problem with your receiver on that station.  With AM in particular over the years, I've seen they can develop areas of the dial where the reception is poor (not specific to Ford, just in general), but yours is brand new so don't think that's the problem in your case.  Honestly I'd reach out to your dealership about it if it happened to me because my AM radio gets used all the time.

 

If you can, maybe ask to get into another 20 Aviator and check the reception on your station.  That might be interesting.  In the worst case, if it's something about the design of the radio in the 20 Aviator (I doubt this but I'm just saying if it is) you should be able to listen on Bluetooth by streaming it, as an option.  But I suspect something is wrong with your particular radio.

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I own a 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum (Aviator's cousin) and have a similar problem with my Explorer's AM radio. It's a rhythmic, pulsating static that happens only when moving. When I stop at a traffic light or in a parking lot, the rhythmic static stops; it starts again when the vehicle is moving. It has nothing to do with overhead power lines or other external factors. The source of the rhythmic static is definitely something within the vehicle.

 

This issue has been discussed in another online forum, and it seems that Ford does not yet have a fix for it.

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Does it change with throttle input (more gas making more, louder, or higher-pitched pulses)?

 

I just wonder if it's the ignition spark or something like that.  Of course that's still happening when you're stopped at a light, but only enough to maintain engine operation.

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Nope. The volume and frequency of the rhythmic, pulsating static is constant. Throttle position has no effect whatsoever. I also made sure I have no phone chargers, adapters, or accessories plugged into any power port. My Explorer is bone stock and totally unaccessorized.

 

The noise is as if someone is feeding the output of a white-noise machine into the AM radio while repeatedly turning the white-noise machine on and off. But only when the vehicle is moving. When stationary, AM radio reception is loud and clear.

 

Keep in mind that other Aviator and Explorer owners have the same issue, and it's easy to reproduce. Not many of us listen to AM radio (I like listening to a local 5K-watt AM oldies station) so this problem has not been widely reported. Thus, not a high priority for Ford/Lincoln to come up with a fix.

 

 

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It sounds like maybe a motor.  My guess would be something like the fuel injectors.  The problem would be narrowing it down, and I'm not sure the problem is something, like you suggested, that would be easy to get a lot of attention.

 

I can't reproduce it because I don't own the same platform, I have a Fusion.  So aside from offering advice which so far hasn't helped, I don't know how to help you here really.  But I will say it sounds like something like a motor probably.  AM noise is very low frequency compared to most systems in a modern car so I wouldn't expect anything like Adaptive Cruise radar, for instance, to be the issue.  I think ignition or small motor (electric motor I mean), most likely.

 

I wish you luck getting it narrowed down. 

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9 hours ago, ncffs said:

It sounds like maybe a motor.  My guess would be something like the fuel injectors.  The problem would be narrowing it down, and I'm not sure the problem is something, like you suggested, that would be easy to get a lot of attention.

 

I can't reproduce it because I don't own the same platform, I have a Fusion.  So aside from offering advice which so far hasn't helped, I don't know how to help you here really.  But I will say it sounds like something like a motor probably.  AM noise is very low frequency compared to most systems in a modern car so I wouldn't expect anything like Adaptive Cruise radar, for instance, to be the issue.  I think ignition or small motor (electric motor I mean), most likely.

 

I wish you luck getting it narrowed down. 

Yes, maybe it's an onboard motor barfing white-noise static into the AM radio, but it would have to be a motor that cycles on-and-off at regular intervals -- only when the vehicle is in motion.

 

I can't think of any motor that would run intermittently at regular, timed intervals except maybe the fuel pump? But why does the rhythmic static stop when the vehicle is stationary with the engine running? The fuel pump is still running while waiting at a stop sign and changing engine speed while stopped does not produce static.

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Do you have a portable AM radio? If so,  have it on but not plugged into the dash12v or USB  to see if the noise is generated as radio frequency or line noise. RF will also be present on the portable radio, while any interference present in the12v or USB power outlets would not. My best guess is something to do with the ABS relays? they would be "on duty" only when in motion, I would think.

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7 hours ago, Chrisgb said:

Do you have a portable AM radio? If so,  have it on but not plugged into the dash12v or USB  to see if the noise is generated as radio frequency or line noise. RF will also be present on the portable radio, while any interference present in the12v or USB power outlets would not. My best guess is something to do with the ABS relays? they would be "on duty" only when in motion, I would think.

This is a great suggestion! I have many portable AM radios and will take one (equipped with fresh batteries) for a ride tomorrow. I'll let you know what happens. Thanks!

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Nice day for a ride around the suburbs, so I loaded fresh batteries into my vintage Panasonic RF-757 AM/FM radio, tuned the radio to 980 AM, and hopped into my 2020 Explorer with the portable radio resting on the passenger's seat. Exiting the garage, I selected AM radio as the source on the Explorer's radio and tuned to 980 AM to listen to an oldies show called "Beatles and Before."

 

I was surprised when I didn't hear the usual rhythmic static on the radio as I was driving. The static has always accompanied AM radio broadcasts since I took delivery of the Explorer in mid-September, 2019. Today, the static was missing, and the vehicle's AM radio performed flawlessly!

 

I continued driving for 10 or 15 minutes -- enjoying the music from the '50s and '60s -- when I decided to turn around and head home. Within a minute or two, I started hearing the familiar pulsating, rhythmic static from the radio. I listened carefully to be sure, then turned off the Explorer's radio and turned on the Panasonic portable.

 

The old Panasonic played the oldies music as expected, but I was unable to hear the rhythmic static on the portable radio. This would indicate that the static is not generated as a radio-frequency (RF) signal, but rather it's caused by line noise within the Explorer's electrical system.

 

Now, I have a theory as to why I was unable to hear static on the Explorer's radio during the first half of today's drive: Because of public health advisories, my wife and I have not been using the Explorer very much. In fact, we've driven it less than 100 miles during the past nine or 10 months. We have other cars here, and the Explorer has been garaged with a battery maintainer connected to prevent discharge.

 

When I drove it today, I have no doubt the battery was fully charged so the Explorer's charging system didn't have much work to do. But, after 10-15 minutes on the road, I suspect the charging system was activated and that's when the rhythmic static started. It's probably Ford's Battery Management System that's causing this issue.

 

I plan to leave the Explorer's battery maintainer disconnected for a few days. Then I'll take a ride and see if the static happens as soon as I leave the driveway. Maybe I'll also connect an old analog voltmeter to one of the Explorer's 12-volt power ports and see if the voltmeter's needle movement is synchronized with the rhythmic static while I'm driving. If that happens, I think I will have identified the culprit.
 

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Sometimes when the AM radio reception is noisy or when it starts to pickup the engine's electrical generated signals, it's an indication the ground on the radio isn't as good as it was new.

In the old days having a cable tied directly from the battery's negative terminal to the radio's chassis improves the situation.

 

But with the complexity of today's cars, I can't recommend this, due to fear what might get damaged.

 

Unless some of the talented folks here could say otherwise.

 

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A suggestion that might help narrow things down: when you're in the area that has the static, if it's safe to do so, pull off the road and turn off your Aviator. Then, start by turning the car on to the accessory position (ignition on, but engine off), and see if you can hear the static. Then turn the engine on, and again assess the static. Then finally, get back under way and assess the static.  Being able to tell your dealer tech as much as possible about the conditions under which the static occurs will be critical in diagnosing the problem. If you don't hear the static under all 3 of the above scenarios, I think it will help them to narrow down the cause.

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To continue investigating the source of annoying, rhythmic static on my 2020 Explorer's AM radio, I connected an analog voltmeter to the 12-volt power port inside the console and asked my wife to "ride shotgun" so she could watch the meter as I drove. We backed out of the garage, turned on AM radio, and headed out for a ride.

 

We were both surprised that AM radio reception was quite good -- not a hint of the pulsating, rhythmic static we've always experienced with this Explorer. The analog voltmeter was steady at about 14 volts during the ride, and it only dipped slightly during brief stops at traffic lights.

 

Continuing to drive, the familiar rhythmic static returned. As usual, it's only evident when the vehicle is in motion; the static stops whenever the vehicle stops. Listening to the pulsating static while watching the voltmeter, my wife noted that the needle was steady and there was no correlation between the vehicle's voltage and the noise of the static. I'd conclude that means the source of the static is not the vehicle's charging system.

 

At this point, I can't think of any other experiments to try. I guess we'll just live with the static until Ford comes up with a solution.

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8 minutes ago, Exit32 said:

To continue investigating the source of annoying, rhythmic static on my 2020 Explorer's AM radio, I connected an analog voltmeter to the 12-volt power port inside the console and asked my wife to "ride shotgun" so she could watch the meter as I drove. We backed out of the garage, turned on AM radio, and headed out for a ride.

 

We were both surprised that AM radio reception was quite good -- not a hint of the pulsating, rhythmic static we've always experienced with this Explorer. The analog voltmeter was steady at about 14 volts during the ride, and it only dipped slightly during brief stops at traffic lights.

 

Continuing to drive, the familiar rhythmic static returned. As usual, it's only evident when the vehicle is in motion; the static stops whenever the vehicle stops. Listening to the pulsating static while watching the voltmeter, my wife noted that the needle was steady and there was no correlation between the vehicle's voltage and the noise of the static. I'd conclude that means the source of the static is not the vehicle's charging system.

 

At this point, I can't think of any other experiments to try. I guess we'll just live with the static until Ford comes up with a solution.

 

I certainly applaud the effort there, that was very good thinking!  But I would raise three technical concerns for further consideration:

 

1. Sensitivity of your voltmeter:  I'm not sure whether the sensitivity of your voltmeter will be adequate to visibly detect a voltage level change in a regulated circuit, even under the proposed conditions.

 

2. Responsiveness of the voltmeter: I'm not clear that I've ever known the frequency or duration of the pulse length, but for certain values of frequency and duration, I would think the voltmeter would have a difficult time representing a change.  Someone more familiar with the actual noise would perhaps be better able to assess the risk of #2 being an issue; the longer the duration of the pulse, and the lower the frequency, the more likely the meter will adequately display a variance.

 

3. Noise leakage into car circuitry: It does sound, from the messages above, as though the noise signal is being transferred through vehicle wiring.  However, this does not preclude the possibility that, while the signal level is above the noise floor, it may be on the order of millivolts or even microvolts, and could even carry a modulation at frequencies far beyond what a voltmeter could represent.  I would perhaps connect an oscilloscope to the 12V on the car, and watch the waveform pattern while driving.  Given a suitable oscilloscope, that would address even #3, which while it has components of #1 and #2 included, is really a separate and distinct issue.  Think here of the noise patterns introduced by leaky digital circuits into DAC systems, for instance, such as was common on older PCs, if that helps illustrate what I mean.  You'd almost always need an oscilloscope to adequately represent what was happening.

 

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I appreciate your commentary, ncffs. I don't know the specs of the meter I used, but it's an old-school analog Triplett Model 60 Type 2 multimeter that I've owned for years. I also have several digital multimeters, but I intentionally stayed in the analog domain with the portable AM radio and voltmeter used for troubleshooting thus far. Plus, it's easier to assess an analog meter's needle swing with voltage changes than it is to make sense of a blur of changing digits on a digital multimeter.

 

As for the actual noise, another Explorer owner has recorded this pulsating, rhythmic static and posted a short video on YouTube. The static in the video is exactly the same as the static I hear on my 2020 Explorer while listening to AM radio. If you're interested, here's a link:

 

2020 Explorer AM radio static while in motion - YouTube

 

I agree with you in that noise signal we're looking for may be at the millivolt or microvolt level -- far too feeble for my old multimeter to detect. Fortunately, I have a portable oscilloscope and will try to convince my wife to take another ride in the Explorer with the scope on her lap. I'll post results within the next few days. In the meantime, let me know if you have any other ideas.

 

 

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Went for another ride around the suburbs today to find out if I could determine the source of the annoying rhythmic static on the AM radio in my 2020 Explorer. This time, I drove about 20 miles with my little Hantek DSO5202P oscilloscope connected to the vehicle's electrical system via the 12-volt port on the center console. My wife was kind enough to ride shotgun again with the oscilloscope on her lap and ability to monitor the scope's display during the drive.

 

Starting out, the oscilloscope showed 14.8 volts as a slightly fuzzy, stable, horizonal line on the display -- just as you'd expect when monitoring a vehicle's electrical system with the engine running, alternator spinning, and accessories energized. With the AM radio on and tuned to a local, low-power broadcast, we listened for the usual rhythmic static but didn't hear it at all. The scope continued to display a stable, horizontal trace at 14.8 VDC. It's almost as if the car knew we were watching and refused to generate the pulsating static that we've experienced so many times in the past.

 

Without static to hunt, I turned around in a parking lot and headed home. My wife and I marveled at how well the AM radio performed; audio was crystal clear and free from static. Closer to home, I slowed as we approached a yield sign -- and that's when we heard the familiar rhythmic static on the radio. My wife studied the oscilloscope, looking for noise on the car's electrical system that coincided with pulsating static on the radio. Nope. The scope displayed the same stable, horizontal line we' seen since the ride began.

 

Continuing to experiment, we determined that the static happened whenever we moving between 19 and 25 MPH. But even though we could hear the static when moving within that narrow range of speed, there was never an indication of electrical "noise" on the oscilloscope's display. Unless my scope isn't detecting the signal -- or my eyes are deceiving me -- I'd have to conclude that the vehicle's electrical system is not the source of the static.

 

At this point, I've spent enough time and effort on this issue and hope that Ford is able to come up with a resolution. I'm done.

 

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I can’t believe anyone still listens to AM radio.  Or FM for that matter.

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I'm a little sorry to hear that, @Exit32!  It's been interesting hearing your stories about this.  One last word: I wanted to mention (and just never got back to you about it---been working on some things with my FFS) that I wholeheartedly agreed with your choice of an analog voltmeter vs a digital one for this.  While I love my digital for straight signal measurements of mostly steady levels, you're absolutely right that there's no substitute for an analog on rapidly-varying signals (nor for an o-scope for transients, of course).

 

Anyhow just wanted to say I've enjoyed your posts on this!

 

And @akirbyI'll be really disappointed the day Ford removes the AM and/or FM from their new cars.  I imagine it'll happen eventually but I hope not for a very long time.

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10 hours ago, ncffs said:

I'm a little sorry to hear that, @Exit32!  It's been interesting hearing your stories about this.  One last word: I wanted to mention (and just never got back to you about it---been working on some things with my FFS) that I wholeheartedly agreed with your choice of an analog voltmeter vs a digital one for this.  While I love my digital for straight signal measurements of mostly steady levels, you're absolutely right that there's no substitute for an analog on rapidly-varying signals (nor for an o-scope for transients, of course).

 

Anyhow just wanted to say I've enjoyed your posts on this!

I appreciate your kind words, ncffs. Who knows -- curiosity may get the best of me and I may resume troubleshooting this issue in the future.

 

I think the biggest obstacle now is that the rhythmic static has become intermittent. Prior to my Explorer being idled during the pandemic, the static was present every time I listened to AM radio when the vehicle was in motion. Vehicle speed didn't matter, location didn't matter, and duration of the ride didn't matter. Now it seems I have to drive for a while and the Explorer must be travelling between 19 and 25 MPH for the pulsating static to be heard. I'm at a loss to explain this change in vehicle behavior and what's making this happen.

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12 hours ago, akirby said:

I can’t believe anyone still listens to AM radio.  Or FM for that matter.

Local news, weather, and free music.  AM and FM radio are the backbone of the emergency broadcast system.  Removing them would be like removing a safety feature.

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13 hours ago, Exit32 said:

Went for another ride around the suburbs today to find out if I could determine the source of the annoying rhythmic static on the AM radio in my 2020 Explorer. This time, I drove about 20 miles with my little Hantek DSO5202P oscilloscope connected to the vehicle's electrical system via the 12-volt port on the center console. My wife was kind enough to ride shotgun again with the oscilloscope on her lap and ability to monitor the scope's display during the drive.

 

Starting out, the oscilloscope showed 14.8 volts as a slightly fuzzy, stable, horizonal line on the display -- just as you'd expect when monitoring a vehicle's electrical system with the engine running, alternator spinning, and accessories energized. With the AM radio on and tuned to a local, low-power broadcast, we listened for the usual rhythmic static but didn't hear it at all. The scope continued to display a stable, horizontal trace at 14.8 VDC. It's almost as if the car knew we were watching and refused to generate the pulsating static that we've experienced so many times in the past.

 

Without static to hunt, I turned around in a parking lot and headed home. My wife and I marveled at how well the AM radio performed; audio was crystal clear and free from static. Closer to home, I slowed as we approached a yield sign -- and that's when we heard the familiar rhythmic static on the radio. My wife studied the oscilloscope, looking for noise on the car's electrical system that coincided with pulsating static on the radio. Nope. The scope displayed the same stable, horizontal line we' seen since the ride began.

 

Continuing to experiment, we determined that the static happened whenever we moving between 19 and 25 MPH. But even though we could hear the static when moving within that narrow range of speed, there was never an indication of electrical "noise" on the oscilloscope's display. Unless my scope isn't detecting the signal -- or my eyes are deceiving me -- I'd have to conclude that the vehicle's electrical system is not the source of the static.

 

At this point, I've spent enough time and effort on this issue and hope that Ford is able to come up with a resolution. I'm done.

 

 

Does it only happen near your house or does it also happen "out in the country" while at slow speed.  To isolate environmental causes, go to somewhere without a lot of power lines or other interference nearby.  Repeat your tests with slow accels/decels and at steady state speeds.  If it doesn't happen it is likely an environmental cause that the vehicle may be sensitive to due to antenna location.

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5 minutes ago, Flying68 said:

Local news, weather, and free music.  AM and FM radio are the backbone of the emergency broadcast system.  Removing them would be like removing a safety feature.


Sorry I didn’t mean to sound disparaging it was more of a curiosity question.

 

Smartphones have weather apps and local news in print and audio streaming.  Music streaming is free.  Personally I listen to Sirius/XM or my personal library on a usb stick.  I can’t stand all the commercials on FM.

 

I also get emergency broadcasts on my phone.

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1 minute ago, akirby said:


Sorry I didn’t mean to sound disparaging it was more of a curiosity question.

 

Smartphones have weather apps and local news in print and audio streaming.  Music streaming is free.  Personally I listen to Sirius/XM or my personal library on a usb stick.  I can’t stand all the commercials on FM.

 

I also get emergency broadcasts on my phone.

 

We use the radio.  When we had the free trials of SiriusXM I would listen to it on road trips, but prefer to listen to the morning program on the local FM rock station for the morning drive.  I just got tired of dealing with SiriusXM and the pricing for the amount I used it.  Now on those long road trips it would be nice, but doing the old radio scan keeps me awake trying to find something decent to listen too.

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