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My radio has stopped working
My Navigation system (Navi) has stopped working
I've lost my radio's anti-theft code


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If you're here because the battery went dead on you, or because it had to be disconnected for whatever reason, this is the page you want. It tells you how to get the radio and Navi working again by giving the radio and Navi the special anti-theft code number they're expecting.

American Honda's online code retrieval (Sorry Canadians, this is US-only!)
Why do I have a radio anti-theft code?
Is the radio code listed somewhere on my car?
Does the radio's antenna have anything to do with the security code?
What about the Navi code?
I now have the code. How do I punch it in?
What will the dealer charge me?
Warning!



American Honda's online code retrieval   back to top of this page

American Honda has just added no-charge online radio/Navi code retrieval to their Ownerlink site and to a separate dedicated site. You may now retrieve your radio or Navi code via your computer.

American Honda Ownerlink is here: https://www.ahm-ownerlink.com. You need to log in and register your car. It would be very wise to register your VIN as well.

The dedicated site is here: https://radio-navicode.honda.com/

An excerpt from a Honda bulletin announcing this new feature:
The Parts & Service Operations Division launched an online anti-theft code retrieval tool for radio and navigation units on the Honda brand site, as well as Ownerlink on April 10, 2008. This site is for owner use.

Online anti-theft code retrieval will be available to the customer Monday thru Friday from 4:00am - 9pm PST and Saturday and Sunday from 4:00am - 6:30pm PST.

With the radio/navigation codes available online, customers no longer need to make a dealer visit or a call to American Honda each time their battery is disconnected. While this tool is specifically targeted at improving convenience for the customer, we are also committed to security and protecting customer information. Customers will have three attempts to authenticate their VIN + Phone + ZIP before being locked out of the system. They will then have to resort to the traditional method.
American Honda's site also gives information on how to find the serial number card that came with your radio and Navi. For those who are unwilling/unable to use the online information American Honda is now providing, the rest of this page should help you get your radio/Navi working again. So keep reading...



Why do I have a radio anti-theft code?   back to top of this page


To prevent audio unit theft, which used to be really, really common. And those anti-theft codes on all OEM radios these days really do work well to cut down on the danger of theft. Canadian and American insurance companies are very happy with the security measures present in modern factory audio systems. But you won't be. Not at all. Not after you get locked out of your radio just because you had to disconnect the car's battery for some reason. Or if your backup fuse blew, something you didn't want and can't control.
The idea is that if the power is disconnected from the radio (such as when a thief swipes it under cover of night), the radio locks up and will not work again unless told to by punching in that special sequence known as an "anti-theft code". Without that code, the thief theoretically has a useless piece of junk in his hands, so he's less likely to try to steal it in the first place. Problem is, car batteries (and stereos) sometimes need to be disconnected for very legitimate reasons. When you disconnect the car's battery (even just one of the cables), the radio loses power and locks up tight, just as if it had been stolen; the stereo cannot tell the difference between you and a thief. When that happens, you turn on the radio afterwards and get the dreaded notation COdE showing on the display, and nothing else.

In the paragraph above I say the crook "theoretically" has a piece of junk in his hands, but that's not strictly true. All he needs is the anti-theft code, and he already has the serial number, which is on a sticker on the radio. In typical cops-and-robbers, cat-and-mouse fashion, the crooks have their avenues to defeat all the anti-theft efforts. These avenues range from corrupt dealership employees to the very stickers and cards the dealership may have so helpfully supplied so you wouldn't get stuck without auditory pleasure. It's never-ending.

What bugs me most is that modern radios have all this hi-falutin' security stuff to deter thieves, but your car's hyper-expensive airbags (worth many thousands more than the radio) have NONE AT ALL. Airbags are small, anonymous, easily stolen and fenced. Thieves can get them out of your car in less than two minutes, doing great damage to your interior in the process. Airbag theft is increasingly common while radio theft declines to near nothing. What's up with that, guys?

By the way (and I hope you've read this far), some worldwide markets outside Canada and the United States do not have radios that suffer from this affliction. If that's the case for your car, your radio will not display COdE when you disconnect the battery or the backup fuse blows. In these cases, you'll simply lose your radio station presets, just like we did in the old days.



Is the radio code listed somewhere on my car?   back to top of this page

It might be.

But more likely you'll just have easy access to the radio's serial number, which is the first step in getting the 4 or 5-digit anti-theft code. Typically, you need to get the 8-digit serial number first, then you use that to find out the anti-theft code.

Honda actually has a TSB on this issue dating back to 1998. Read that first, then return here.
(And please do actually read it; it's extremely relevant to this article)
http://www.tegger.com/hondafaq/tsb/misc/x98-026e.pdf

Some dealers may actually record the anti-theft code itself somewhere on the documentation that came with your car, or on a sticker in one of the locations mentioned in that PDF, or on the radio itself. If you're afraid to try pulling the radio yourself for fear of damaging the frighteningly fragile trim, see here for instructions: http://www.installdr.com/

Don't forget other, rather less obvious locations, such as the bottom of the front ashtray. Use your imagination, the dealer may have done that too.

If you've gone through all your documentation and all the possible sticker locations, pulled your (pre-'01) car's radio to check that, and all you can find is the serial number and nothing else, you're pretty far ahead already. At this point, you go to your local dealer with the radio serial number and your car's ownership (and preferably the car itself), and they'll give you the code. All dealers have access to the code if they have the radio's serial number and your car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

On all cars made before '01, you have to perform the above gyrations to obtain the serial number. On some cars from '01 to '02, and almost all cars from '03 and up, you can get the serial number from the radio electronically, without removing the unit from the dash.
Those post-'01 vehicles are (as of Mar 2007):
Honda ('01-'02 MOST trim lines for each model; '03 and up all but Odyssey EX-L w/NAVI)
Acura (some '01-'02; all but NSX and 3.5RL for '03 and up)
'01-'07 Accord
'01-'07 Civic
'02-'07 CR-V
'03-'07 Element
'07 Fit
'01-'07 Odyssey
'03-'07 Pilot
'06-'07 Ridgeline
'02-'07 S2000
'01-'03 3.2 CL
'01-'07 MDX
'03-'05 NSX
'07 RDX
'04 3.5RL
'05-'07 RL
'02-'06 RSX
'02-'03 3.2TL
'04-'07 TL
'04-'07 TSX

If you try to retrieve the serial number from the vehicles in the table above, you're certain you did it correctly, and you get no result, then your trim level (EX, LX, RS, EX-L, etc.) does not support electronic retrieval. For all those (and earlier) vehicles you must view the PDF referenced above, remove the radio, or go poking around your car and its paperwork looking for the serial number, or call your dealer.

There are two methods of serial number retrieval for "electronic retrieval" radios. Which you use depends on whether or not you have the Navigation system.


Method 1: for all electronic retrieval models except '03-'07 Accords with the navigation system
  1. Turn the ignition switch to ON (II).
  2. Turn on the audio unit, and make sure you see COdE in the display. If you don't see this message, pull the backup fuse for 1 minute, and then go back to step 1.
  3. Turn off the audio unit.
  4. Press and hold the 1 and 6 preset buttons, then turn on the audio unit. The display toggles between two screens. The first screen displays a U and the first four digits of the serial number (for example, U2200). The second screen displays an L and the last four digits of the serial number (for example, L0055). Ignore the U and L, and write down all eight digits. Then go to step 5.
  5. Go to your dealer with your car, its ownership and the radio's serial number. They will give you the anti-theft code.

Method 2: for '03-'07 Accords with the navigation system
  1. Turn the ignition switch to ACC (I).
  2. Turn on the audio unit, and make sure you see COdE in the upper display. If you don't see this message, pull the backup fuse for 1 minute, and then go back to step 1.
  3. Turn off the audio unit.
  4. Press and hold the top halves of the SEEK/SKIP and CH/DISC bars, and then press and release the PWR/VOL knob. This display toggles between two screens. The first screen displays a U and the first four digits of the serial number (for example, U2200). The second screen displays an L and the last four digits of the serial number (for example, L0055). Ignore the U and L, and write down all eight digits. Then go to step 5.
  5. Go to your dealer with your car, its ownership and the radio's serial number. They will give you the anti-theft code.



Does the radio's antenna have anything to do with the security code?   back to top of this page

What a strange question, right? Nope, not strange at all.

As I understand it, the radio is in constant communication with its remote station on account of the Navi system (probably for the GPS function). This communication appears to interfere with the radio's ability to accept code entry procedures.

There are two solutions to this problem:
1) find an underground parking garage or other place where there is no signal to the radio, or
2) disconnect the antenna from the back of the radio itself while performing code entry.

I can't vouch for these solutions myself, but I've seen a few instances mentioned online, plus one email to me from somebody who tried unplugging the antenna on my suggestion, that say that unplugging the antenna does in fact work.



What about the Navi code? back to top of this page

Just like with the radios, you need the serial number first. And the Navi will go blank when the battery is disconnected, just like the radio.

The Navi system itself has its serial number in different places from the radio. I have little information on this, unfortunately. What I do have specifically pertains to the Odyssey and comes from a Honda tech in (I think) Illinois. According to him, the easiest way to find the serial number on the '05-'08 Odyssey is to look under the driver's seat at the Navigation DVD-ROM drive. Remove the four 10mm nuts and the number is on the bottom of the unit. There is no need to disconnect any wires. I don't know where Accord/Acura Navi's have their codes, but it's likely it's that same place.

Once you have the serial, it's just like the radio, where you go to your local dealer with the Navi serial number and your car's ownership (and preferably the car itself), and they'll give you the code. All dealers have access to the code if they have the Navi serial number and your car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

How do you enter the code for the Navi? If you have a touch-screen, it's self-explanatory; the screen will display a keypad. If you don't have a touch screen, I'm not sure. My source was supposed to get back to me with the procedure for non-touch screen systems, but he has not. He did say he thought the numbers still appeared on the screen, but you used the dial to scroll through them.

IMPORTANT: Also see the section above about the antenna!!

As of this writing (Apr01/08) there are not a lot of cars out there with Navi, and they're new/expensive enough to be well into the non-DIY demographic. This is probably why there is a dearth of info on the subject. I expect that situation to improve once the cars grow a bit of a beard and people like me start to own them.



I now have the code. How do I punch it in?   back to top of this page

Again, two methods for the radio:
IMPORTANT: Also see the section above about the antenna!!


Method for all Honda/Acura vehicles except '03-'07 Accords with navigation system
  1. The code is five digits, which will correspond to the radio station preset buttons that are numbered 1 through 6.
  2. While the radio's display is showing COdE, punch each preset button once, IN THE ORDER GIVEN.
    Example: Code is 62531. Hit the right-hand (6th) button first, then the 2nd from left, then the 5th from left, and so on.
  3. If you have done the order correctly, the radio should start working after the last digit has been entered. If it does not, then you have made a mistake. You may try up to ten times (only three times on some models!), after which the radio will lock up and you need to then either disconnect the car's battery or wait one hour before trying again. If you disconnect the battery, disconnect both cables from the battery, then touch the cable ends together. Some radios have capacitors that will keep the memory alive for up to ten minutes. Touching the cable ends together will discharge the capacitors.
  4. If you make a mistake in code entry part way through, CONTINUE entering ALL digits of the sequence of five, even if they are just random! You MUST finish the sequence of five in order for the radio to allow you to restart the sequence.
Method 2: for '03-'07 Accords with the navigation system

Verbatim from the actual Honda documentation:

What will the dealer charge me? back to top of this page

Honda's dealers in Canada will (usually) charge you about $25 for retrieving the code if you bring in all the necessary ID and serial numbers, more if they have to remove the radio to get the serial number. Acura's policy from about October 2005 is to not charge for code retrieval, provided you bring in all the required information and they don't have to pull the radio out of the dash. A Honda dealer may not charge you depending on your relationship with them. It's worth it to ask before panicking.

American Honda (as of April 2008) now offers online radio/Navi code retrieval at no charge. See Honda's online code retrieval, above. I still don't know what US dealers would charge if you asked them directly.



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WARNING:
By the way, if you use a search engine to research this subject, one site that may come up right at the top is
www.radio-code.com. They will sell you the code for up to $30 over the Internet.
I emailed them to ask them these questions:
  1. How is it that you are able to obtain these codes?
  2. Are you an authorized Honda/Acura dealer?
  3. How do you determine that a code requester is the legal owner of the radio?
  4. Where are you located (state, city)?
  5. Do you operate a brick-and-mortar operation under another business name?
I received a reply to the effect that only the owner could answer my questions. In the same message they asked me to place a special link into my pages so their Google ranking would climb! (No way Jose...)

And the owner never did get back to me, with answers or without.

If you decide to use radio-code.com, beware. They sure seem fishy to me. They have NO way of knowing if the code requester is the legal owner of the radio. You could steal someone's radio, buy the code, then resell the radio to an unscrupulous body shop.

Last update: January 19, 2009