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Hi folks.


We recently bought a second hand S Max ST which we're really pleased with, except with the stereo.

It is an after market Chinese unit which does everything (including digital TV) but all we really want to do is listen to the radio and play CDs.


The FM reception is lousy - unlistenable even on the station transmitted from about three fields away (Heart Essex). A local guy came out yesterday, pulled it out and took a look but couldn't help matters, and removed £55 from my wallet for his time (fair enough, but from my perspective I don't want to waste any more money on it).


With the head unit removed, the wiring all looks fine and the aerial is connected. The only ray of hope I had was a blue wire which said `12v' and wasn't connected to anything.  I was sure (wishful thinking) this was going to be the supply to the aerial booster, and simply connecting this to the aerial cable would send 12 v back up to the booster and fix the problem.


The professional who came out told me that this was not the case, and that the 12v was sent up straight from the head unit through the centre core of the aerial.


I am now wondering if the head unit is actually sending this 12v up the aerial if it is an aftermarket one? If it's not then obviously an unpowered aerial booster will block most of the signal from the aerial and cause the dreadful reception. Perhaps I should just disconnect the booster which I believe is located in the void above the quarterlight window, which is where the aerial is. I took a look but wimped out as it looked quite close to an air bag mechanism and I could just see me creating another problem!!


I know the head unit is not good quality. My guy has told me the unit is at fault, and quoted many dollars to replace it with a more basic but higher quality item. It might be that someone on here has been in this situation and can offer some advice?


Thanks in advance for any help







In your case it sounds like moving back to an original Ford radio may be the answer.
It would appear that the after-market one you have fitted is junk.

The Chinese ones do give a poor reception but it does sound like yours is worse than normal. I would try disconnecting the blue wire just in case someone had connected it directly to the aerial. That would make the reception worse if it is.


The Chinese ones are normally just plug and play so the connections should be correct, however I have a feeling that the blue wire wasn't connected to anything on the one I had in my last car. I used it to power the amplifiers I had on the TV Aerials. TV was still crap though.

That wire is probably a trigger feed for a motorised extending aerial.
Some people have a penchant for adding amplifiers to aerials but tbh they tend to cause more signal loss as they overwash the recommended gain and actually block the signal.

Go back to a standard Radio - get one 2nd hand off e-bay.

If you can afford it go for the Blaupunkt FX radio - it's a sat-nav original ford unit - whether you want sat-nav or not isn't key, it has much better sound quality than the Visteon/Ford or Sony units.


Also there is no such thing as an S-max ST... I'm guessing you have a Titanium, Titanium X or Titanium X-Sport.


Thanks everyone, for your help so far. 137699 - in that case I have no idea what model I've got! Previous owner obviously added the `ST' badges. It just says `Titanium' on the back, `2.5T' on the side. It has half leather seats, looks to be a little lower than the standard S Max and has air intake grilll thingees above the front wheels. In terms of the stereo, thanks for the advice I'll look out for one of those on ebay.


Stoney 871, thanks for the knowledge re the blue wire. That would make sense.


BTMaldon, thanks for confirming the reception on the Chinese units is rubbish. Yeah, the blue wire is disconnected, we didn't do anything with it. I think the S Max FM aerial on the quarterlight window is fitted with a booster as standard (I may be wrong) and was just wondering, given the `crapness' of the Chinese unit, whether it was even built to send the power up the aerial cable.






All s-max's have the grilles above the wheel arch - even the basic Zetec & LX models have them - it's one of the things that differentiates it from the Galaxy.


A standard Titanium has tinted windows, climate control, half-leather & 17" alloy wheels.

If it's a Titanium X it will have all the Titanium stuff plus 18" alloy wheels, panoramic roof, bluetooth & voice control & Xenon headlamps.

If it's a Titanium X sport it will have all the Titanium X stuff, plus bodykit (side skirts, rear spoiler, rear diffuser, rear body-coloured bumper & front "mouth" radiator grill), drilled aluminium pedals, red stitched steering wheel & gear gaitor, and sports suspension.


The 2.5T is the best engine - that is the same engine as the Focus ST (which in itself was the basis of the Focus RS) which is probably why the previous owner adorned your S-max with "ST" stickers.


Thanks for the info re the models, I went back to the ebay ad which I bought the car from, out of interest. It looks to be a Titanium with Sports pack 2.


Have decided to boycott the radio and play CDs :-)


It's a 2.5turbo Titanium with elements from the sport pack fitted, but not the full sport pack (missing the panoramic roof & pedals, wrong steering wheel & gearknob). And some ST badges stuck on for effect!


And it's not the new shape - it's the old shape! The new shape wasn't introduced until 2010!


Here's the spec of your car:

  • With Standard Liftgate

  • Genk Plant Build

  • Security Lock Group #5

  • Marketing Level 1

  • Full Dress Up RSO

  • With Electronic Stability Control

  • VP Application Label

  • With Global Closing

  • With Electric Rear Windows

  • With Privacy Glass

  • With Blue Glass Windscreen

  • With Fixed Rear Window

  • With Heated Windscreen

  • With Tutone Instrument Panel

  • With Standard Overhead Console

  • Standard Ovrhed Console & With Rail

  • Full Floor Console With Armrest

  • With Illuminated Sunvisor - Drivers

  • With Illuminated Sunvisor-Passenger

  • With Level 5 Door Trim Panel

  • Less Load Rest

  • With Load Area Cover

  • With Argent Grille

  • Rocker Panel Moulding - VP

  • With Stop Lamp Spoiler

  • Electric Operated Rear View Mirror

  • Dual P/Heat/Signal/Pud Lamp Mirror

  • Less Drivers Seat Fold Down Table

  • Less Tray/Table - Front Seat

  • With Drivers Manual Lumbar Support

  • Less Passenger Seat Lumbar Support

  • With Rear Sliding Seat

  • Less Under Seat Stowage - Driver

  • Less Under Seat Stowage-Passenger

  • Second Row - 3 Individual Seats

  • Third Row Dual Individual Seat

  • With Driver 2 Way Pwr.Seat Adjuster

  • With Pass 2 Way Manual Seat Adjust

  • Less Trailer Coupling

  • Body Coloured Exterior Door Handle

  • Body Coloured Tailgate Handle

  • Power Door Dead Lock W/Elec Release

  • Door Entry R/Cont Flip/Fixed Key

  • With Automatic Windscreen Wiper

  • With Heated Washer Jet

  • With Headlamp Washer

  • With Front Bumper - Rapid - Spec

  • Rear Bumper-Rpd-Spc/Mss-Cstm

  • With Rear Seat Belts 2nd/3rd Row

  • Less Spare Wheel

  • With Standard Rear Shock Absorbers

  • 18" Alloy Style 1 Wheel

  • 235/45 R18 98W Tyre

  • Less Wheel Covers

  • Locking Wheel Nuts

  • With Sports Tuned Suspension

  • Front Spring Load Class-G

  • Rear Spring Load Class-F

  • With Dual Chrome Exhaust Extension

  • With Mechanical Parking Brake

  • With Brake Emergency Assist

  • Sports Front Seat

  • With 70 Litre Fuel Tank

  • Leather Steering Wheel

  • With Speed Control

  • Conventional Instruments - Level 3

  • Thatcham Catergory 1 Alarm System

  • With Vehicle Tilt Sensing

  • With Rear Parking Aid

  • With Front Parking Aid

  • Standard Duty Battery

  • With A/V Jack

  • With Rear Window Aerial

  • High Level With CD And AM/FM Radio

  • Ice Feature Pack 6

  • With 8 High Series Radio Speakers

  • Less Telephone Preparation Pack

  • High Intensity Discharge Headlamp

  • Header Mounted Courtesy/Maplights

  • 2/3 Row Curt Lamp/2 Row Map Light

  • With Automatic Headlamp Levelling

  • With Automatic Headlamp On/Off

Thanks, that's really helpful. You clearly know your stuff!


You mention it has the wrong steering wheel and gearknob. Could you possibly inform me which would be the correct ones to have? Is it just a matter of colour (red stitching) as if so I don't think they would match the seats which don't have the red stitching.


The gearkknob I could fit myself, but I'm not sure I would be competent enough to do the steering wheel. I have already changed the pedals for proper Ford drilled ones.




The seats should have red stitching (if leather) for the sport pack, along with the steering wheel (with breather holes & squidgier leather/padding) and the gear lever gaitor. The insert on top of the gearknob should have red lettering on a silver/grey background.


If your seat leather has the white stitching, probably best to leave as it is, but the sport pack steering wheel feels a whole lot nicer than the standard one!




Been reading this and wondering if anyone can help? I have picked up a S-Max 2.5 - I think it's a Titanium X as it has the 18in wheels and a panoramic glass roof. It also has a stereo CD AM/FM head unit  that's pretty awful- the CDs skip, the FM reception is pants and there's no USB port for iPod control - just an Aux input. It also has a DVD navigation that I will never use.

I wanted to replace it with a new head unit but the heating control for the car are built into the stereo and according to someone from Halfords, and a Ford dealer on the phone, I cannot replace it with anything. I'm stuck with it. 


Looking for a third opinion here - so any input welcome, thanks.


You can replace it.

You need to buy a new fascia which has the oval aperture and the heating controls built in. There are 2 plugs on the back of your current unit which plug into the standard heater control panel.


Then you can buy any ford specific attermarket headunit, or, you can buy a single-din or double-din converter and fit whatever headunit you like.


It just so happens I have such a fascia for sale.... £130 inc delivery if you want it...


Photo below:




Brilliant! - that is really good to know - thank you. 


I wanted to go with this one.


Do you happen to know what adaptors I'll need to get this to work with the steering wheel controls? As well as one of those I think I'll also need an iPod cable lead, and possibly an external aerial for the DAB. 


As for the adaptor, basically I'm skint right now so I can't - are they rare and are you likely to have one in a couple of months?


And how you know so much about this - you do this for a living? ;-)


You'll need one of these cables to interface with the steering controls and match the factory loom to your radio-


As for the DAB aerial, something like this will do you (depending on the DAB connector on the back of the radio)-


Brilliant! - that is really good to know - thank you. 


I wanted to go with this one.


Do you happen to know what adaptors I'll need to get this to work with the steering wheel controls? As well as one of those I think I'll also need an iPod cable lead, and possibly an external aerial for the DAB. 


As for the adaptor, basically I'm skint right now so I can't - are they rare and are you likely to have one in a couple of months?


And how you know so much about this - you do this for a living? ;-)

There are a few people with smax's with the same headunit.

No I don't do it for a living but I have swapped the radio in my smax about 3 times hence why I know what is/isn't possible.


The fasica is very rare, though I did have 3 of them a while back, but now I only have the 1 and it will almost certainly sell within a month I'm afraid, though please check back when you're ready, just in case!


Hi 137699


Do you still have that fascia you mentioned?





As it happens..... yes.


Hey again. Can you confirm that you've successfully swapped out this head unit? 


I'm in touch with Pioneer directly and they are not convinced it can be done. :-(

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