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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I'm a relatively new owner of a '96 SS and am brand new to the forums. Recently some components in the power antenna unit went out. The antenna itself isn't bent but is stuck in the extended position. Given this is the original unit in the car (it's older than me lol), I'd like to replace it rather than fix it. I can't find a decently refurbished unit for under $300, and still I'm not sure if I trust the people rebuilding it. This all led me to consider going for reproduction parts with the options listed below. I can't find any reviews from B Body owners on fitment installation. Does anybody have any experience or thoughts? I'm open to other suggestions as well for something close to OEM. Thanks!!!

My understanding is that they are both universal, but every website I go to says they fit a '96 Impala. Not sure if it is true or just a marketing ploy to get me to buy...

1. Metra Electronics
Advance Auto Parts - Down for Maintenance

2. Retro Manufacturing
 

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It sounds like the mast is broken, get ahold of Fred Kiehl on this forum I know he used to rebuild them and knows what he’s doing, you’re better off rebuilding the original one.
 

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Lots in the archive search. Here's the latest from Fred. IIRC, somewhere there's another thread where he describes the process in detail.
 

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As an option, I got an entire replacement for my Fleetwood here:

I see they have the listing for our shared model as well, as well as parts. Their price/quality/fit makes them a 'Highly Recommended' IMO.
 

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I have a hand made steel replacement cable I will sell for $95. It is a PITA to take them apart (nasty goo inside), and replace the cable. I use 1/2 inch long 10-32 screws and nylock nuts to reassemble the case, but the center is too small for the nut. I use a 1 inch screw, and a 1/4 inch piece of threaded nylon spacer as a nut. You must grind/drill out the rivets, and remove the clips to get the case apart. The antenna should be in the up position when assembling, and the small gear with the blocked tooth needs to be positioned properly to stop the motor from pushing on the cable when the mast is up, and pulling on it when down. It must be just on the right of center when you are looking at the inside of the case.

The nylon cables that The Antenna Source sells only lasts a couple of years, and will break again. That is why I do not use them anymore.

The universal antennas do not retract into the fender like the OEM units. You must rig the mount inside of the fender to hold the antenna in place as well.
 

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This all driven me to consider going for proliferation leaves behind the choices recorded underneath. I can't track down any surveys from B Body proprietors on fitment establishment. Does anyone have any insight or contemplations? I'm available to different ideas also for something near OEM. Much obliged!!!
 

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There is nothing "near" OEM. All "will work" options do not emulate the retraction into the fender. There are OEM style masts available for $75, and nylon cables for about $30. You can repair them in about an hour, or less depending on your experience, and tool availability. If you use the nylon cable, plan on doing it about every 2 years. Sometimes the replacement cable will have a little trouble fitting inside the upper tube, and require clearancing. The OEM cable can be repaired with nylon string trimmer cable, or steel cable. There is not much else to contemplate.
 

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I ordered the PETERSON LIGHTING 950511 antenna from Rock Auto and installed it in my '96 SS. It came with universal brackets that I fabricated with pliers to the shape of the original. Used Metra 40-GM18 antenna cable adapter to connect to the antenna cable under the hood. I have a shop manual, and found the wiring diagram for the radio and antenna circuits. Since the universal antennas don't use an external relay to switch the motor direction for up and down, I removed the power antenna relay from under the dash and jumpered terminals at the relay connector so the stock radio would trigger the antenna directly, and so there's an always-on power source for the red wire on the antenna. That way I didn't have to cut the factory harness under the dash. Grounded the negative wire for the antenna in the engine compartment. The antenna goes up and down properly when I turn the factory radio on and off, and it also retracts if I just turn the ignition off. I tucked the excess antenna coax away discreetly in the fender well. This has been working great for about a year, but I kept the original antenna and relay in case I ever feel like I need to try to rebuild the original antenna.

It's been a year since I did this, but according to the wiring diagram (Double-check this and don't rely on my quick reading of the diagram):

At the relay connector:
Orange is always hot.
Dark Green is trigger wire from radio
(Coming in from under the hood for the antenna): There is a white, dark green, and gray. You'll need to repurpose two of these for your trigger and always-hot, to lead out to your antenna.
 

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It sounds like it is easier to rebuild the OEM antenna.
 

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It was actually pretty easy. All I did was jumper the orange always-hot and the dark-green trigger from the radio to the wires that lead out to the antenna right at the relay connector. A few mini spade terminals and a couple of short wires. There's a risk of screwing up for someone who's never worked on automotive wiring, though. A stereo shop should be able to figure it out. The point is that the universal antennas can be made to work with little modification.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hey all, I'm a relatively new owner of a '96 SS and am brand new to the forums. Recently some components in the power antenna unit went out. The antenna itself isn't bent but is stuck in the extended position. Given this is the original unit in the car (it's older than me lol), I'd like to replace it rather than fix it. I can't find a decently refurbished unit for under $300, and still I'm not sure if I trust the people rebuilding it. This all led me to consider going for reproduction parts with the options listed below. I can't find any reviews from B Body owners on fitment installation. Does anybody have any experience or thoughts? I'm open to other suggestions as well for something close to OEM. Thanks!!!

My understanding is that they are both universal, but every website I go to says they fit a '96 Impala. Not sure if it is true or just a marketing ploy to get me to buy...

1. Metra Electronics
Advance Auto Parts - Down for Maintenance

2. Retro Manufacturing

So...months later I finally had the time to deal with this properly. To anybody wondering, the best method of replacement is to get a refurbished OEM antenna unit or have your broken one refurbished. No need to mess with new wiring or mounts if you can have it fixed for about $120 (about that price, I don't remember exactly how much). I got lucky to find a man by the name of Cadillac Jack in Indianapolis, IN, near where I live. He literally specializes in motorized antenna units. If you don't live nearby, you can mail yours in or he can send mail one out. I yanked my unit out and gave it to him to fix for the aforementioned $120ish. Only took him a day or two to do a complete refurbishment. I threw my refurbished piece back in and it worked perfectly!

I'll mention, I was NOT in any way compensated for this. He just seemed like a stand-up guy who has an easy fix to a problem a lot of us face.

Company: Car Tech of Indiana
Phone: 317 791 0688
Address: 5420 Victory Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46203

Installation notes:
- Take the wheel off, it makes the process much easier.
- Have a friend pull apart the inner fender lining while you put the antenna in. Also to put the screw for the mounting bracket in while you align it. The second part would be hard to do alone.
- If you're having trouble aligning the unit's mount to the screw hole inside the door jamb, the mount may be upside down. Ask me how I know...
 

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