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DND Services Ltd :: FAQ's - Car Radio Decoding

FAQ's - Car Radio Decoding

Car Radio Decoding - An Overview

Originally designed to combat theft of Car Audio Systems, one of the features of modern Car Stereo`s is that of the Security Code. The idea was that if the power was disconnected for any reason, either by battery disconnection or Radio removal, then a unique Security Code number, known only to the owner, would need to be entered in a specific sequence in order to make the Radio function again. This ensured that the Car Stereo was completely useless to the potential Car Radio thief, as without the unique number, the unit was of little or no value to them.

This Security Code system works very well and is proven by the fact that Coded Radio`s are seldom stolen as often as they used to be. But, this security feature does have a sting in its tail. Every time you have a low or flat battery, or your car goes in for a service, which usually involves battery disconnection at some stage, the question of the code number will rear its ugly head. More often than not, its just one number too many for us to remember, and that is of course, if we were ever made aware of it in the first place by the previous owner or dealer that sold us the car.

But above all else, please be aware that the Technician who has just disconnected your battery has no way of knowing your number either, so don`t shout at them because it has now activated. With modern cars becoming so complex to work on, battery disconnection is becoming more commonplace. Your Security Code number is Your responsibility. After all, you wouldn`t expect your Mechanic to know your PIN number for your credit card without telling them would you?

So please be nice to your Mechanic when this happens, as upon telling them your Code number, you may find that they will even enter it into the radio for you.
Maybe even Free Of Charge?


Frequently Asked Questions :





If I Don`t know my Code Number, How do I find out what it is?

If you do not know the Security Code number for your Radio, then don't panic, it really isn`t a problem. We have the technology to be able to assist, but before we do, we need to know exactly what radio you have fitted in your car. Telling us that you have the standard radio fitted to the car is of little help, as if you think about it - every radio fitted from new could be called "standard". If, for instance you told us that its the radio that came with the car, and you had a Ford, we would still not be able to identify which Radio you had fitted, as our Decode Database currently lists several hundred different models of Ford Radio, and each and every one could be called "standard". What we really need is a Radio Model Number. In some cases, the Radio Model or Name will appear on the front of the radio, and in other cases, the radio may need to be removed to find any labels with numbers on. If you are unable to remove your Stereo yourself, you may need to ask your local Mechanic to remove it for you. If you have a browse through the decode pages on our website, you may even be able to identify your radio from the pictures we have listed. Once you have identified your radio on our website, there will be detailed instructions as to what needs to be done next. Some radios may need to be sent to us for reprogramming, and some models can even have the Code numbers supplied Online, it really depends on which radio you have as to the procedure involved. But please remember, if the information shown on our website about your radio asks for the unit to be sent to us, please don`t ask if we can do it via E-Mail - we can`t, or it would have said so!

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What does it cost to Decode my Stereo?

Because every Car Radio is different, and the Code number has to be recovered in a different way for each model, we have priced the Code number recovery for each Radio accordingly. We strongly believe that we are able to Decode more Radio`s than any other Company in the UK, and possibly the World, and as a result our Decoding Database is one of the largest you will find anywhere, so before asking us how much your radio is going to cost to decode, have a quick search on the DECODE link within the blue bar at the top of the page and see if you can find the listing for your own model. If you can, you will find the price and procedure shown for your Radio along with loads of other usefull information.

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Can you Decode my Stereo from its Serial Number?

In some instances, Yes. If your Model of Radio is one that we are able to supply the Security Code for from its Serial Number, then our Decoding Database will indicate this. We will show you easy to follow instructions about the information we require from your Radio, and you will be guided towards an Online form to submit them. Upon submission of Radio details and payment, we will then email your code numbers back to you either via our E-CODE or INSTANT-CODE service, depending on which is available for your radio. But please remember, if the information shown on our website about your radio asks for the unit to be sent to us, please don`t ask if we can do it via E-Mail - we can`t, or it would have said so!

For those that are new to using us, there is obviously the concern of what happens if we get the code number wrong and supply you an incorrect code? Well, we are very good at what we do, and providing that your radio does not show any signs or labels indicating that it may previously have been tampered with, decoded, repaired or reprogrammed, then we are confident that the code number we supply will be the original one that the radio left the factory with. However, should the code not work, then the radio will have to be returned to us for manual decoding, costs of which are readily available upon request, and we will credit any monies paid from our online service towards this. To prevent any fraudulant claims that our codes do not work, we do not offer any refunds on our online Radio Decoding service.

Please note that we are unable to supply any code numbers by telephone.

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What is the difference between an E-Code & an Instant Code?

In order to explain the difference between them, I shall give you a quick insight as to what goes on behind the scenes. Since 1992, we have been collecting data from every radio that has ever passed through our workshops, so that we can find quicker and more efficient means to extract the Radio Codes. In many cases we have successfully developed procedures that can determine a Radio Code either from its Serial Number, or from other data that is easily identifiable without having to actually see the Radio ourselves. Once internal trials of these procedures have been carried out, the next stage is to offer the service Online. These are initially listed on our website as E-CODE`s as once an Online form is submitted to us, each Code application is then manually checked and verified, and then sent out via E-Mail (hence the name E-CODE). There is obviously a short delay whilst this is carried out, and this can be anything from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the current workload and who is in the office at the time. Priority is always given to responding to E-CODES though.

Once we are satisfied that our E-CODE service can maintain a 100% accuracy rate over a given period of time, we then take this up to the next level and fully automate the service. This is then called an INSTANT-CODE. When the Radio Details are submitted this time, you are automatically directed to the PayPal website, where payments can be transferred, or for those of you without a PayPal account, Credit or Debit cards can be used to pay. Once Payment has been made, you are then directed INSTANTLY back to a web page where your Radio Code number is INSTANTLY displayed, (hence the name INSTANT-CODE) and if we have them on file, your Code Entry details will also be shown. An automated E-Mail will follow shortly afterwards as well.

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Mail Order Decoding Service Procedure

If our Decoding Database indicates that your Radio can only be Decoded by sending it to us, then it does mean that we have not yet found an Online solution to providing your Radio Code. In order to Decode your Radio, it needs to be sent to us so that we can physically plug it into our test equipment back here at our workshop.

If you need to send us a Radio for Decoding, its very important to order the Decode from our website, as this will automatically book the Radio on to our system. Click on the relavent Stereo on our website, purchase the Decode and follow all of the Checkout procedures. If you are sending multiple Radio`s, please make sure that you order multiple Decodes where necessary as this will calculate a price for return delivery back to you. The final checkout page will also have a box for you to include any fault details or special instructions where necessary. Print off the final Checkout page and include a copy in the box with any items that you are sending us. You will also receive a confirmation E-Mail as well. When your Radio arrives here we will then have all your payment and contact details, and can process it without any delay.

Our postage charges shown are based on returning via a Secure Carrier to Mainland UK, and this price will be adjusted automatically depending on how many radio`s you have selected to send. For our Oversea`s and (Over Water!) Customers, the price will be automatically adjusted at the Checkout. We will only ship via our own approved Secure Carriers. For those of you wishing to pay in € Euro`s, this facility is currently only available by PayPal. Please contact us if a delivery solution is not shown for your Country.

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Can you turn off the code completely?

Easy answer - No! Our business is derived from code number recovery, and it would not make any financial nor commercial sense if we turned off radio codes, since this is how we make our money!

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How Long does it take to Decode?

Please note that we do operate a very strict first come - first served basis, and we do not entertain que jumping by anybody, no matter how important you think you are. Most Radio`s that arrive at our workshop are Decoded and processed for dispatch within 48 hours, but it can depend on how busy we are at the time. Our busiest times are during the cold and wet months, (due to lots of flat batteries), and also around the new vehicle registration launch dates.

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What is the best way of sending a Radio to you?

If you are sending us a Radio for Decoding or Repair, please ensure that it is safely wrapped in loads of Bubble Wrap, or similar, placed in a sturdy box and then post it to us by some means that not only has a trackable number but also requires a signature when delivered at our end. For extra safety, send us a quick E-Mail with parcel and courier details once sent, and we can also keep an eye open for it at our end.

If you do not have your own Courier facilities, then the Post Office can often provide a number of solutions. Recorded Special Delivery allows you to add extra insurance should you wish, but can be expensive if the parcel exceeds 2Kg. If your parcel is over this weight, ask the Post Office for Parcelforce 48 as can often be much cheaper. They will seldom offer this service without you asking for it.

For the Trade Customers amongst you, or for those sending multiple Radio`s, we can offer a Courier Collection Service - please contact us for details.

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I Can`t find my Stereo on your Database, Can you still Decode it?

If your Radio is not shown on our Database, its probably on our update list. We still have many Stereos to add to our website, and we are constantly researching new models on a daily basis, so if your model is not shown, don`t worry, we may well have a solution for you.

Please contact us with all the Radio details you can find from the label, such as Make, Model, Serial and Part Numbers, and we will be happy to advise you accordingly by return.

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I know my code number, but do not know how to enter it?

If you know your Code Number, but do not know how to actually enter it, have a quick search on the DECODE link within the blue bar at the top of the page and see if you can find the listing for your own model. If you can, you will find the Code Entry procedure shown for your Radio along with loads of other usefull information. Because you may only have a limited number of attempts before your are "Locked Out" it may be better to read these instructions before any attempts are made!

If you do not find the information you are looking for, please Contact Us by E-Mail.

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Is there any Harm in Entering an Incorrect Number?

Yes, very much so. If you enter the wrong code into your radio, then the radio will assume that it has fallen into the wrong hands, and there will be a penalty time of anywhere between a few minutes to several hours before you can try to enter the code again. Each wrong attempt will result in a longer penalty time. If you have tried to enter what you believe to be the right number more than once, and it didn`t work, please don`t keep trying, as the number is almost certainly incorrect. There are only a limited number of times that you can try this number before the radio locks up permanently. Some radios, once they have locked up, cannot be reset, and the stereo may end up being scrapped as new code chips are often uneconomic or unavailable for replacement. Better to send us the unit whilst there are still some attempts left, as resetting a penalty timer on a low setting is much cheaper than replacing locked out Code Ic`s, and certainly cheaper than scrapping the stereo.

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Why Shouldn`t I Ask the Main Dealer to Supply Me a Code?

By all means ask them, but remember that the Dealer will charge you simply for looking for a code whether it is right or wrong (If they can actually be bothered to look!), and I do know of quite a few dealers who will charge and then make up a number, just to get your money.

But please bear in mind that any Code held on record from the Main Dealer will only ever relate to the Radio that was first fitted to your car when it was manufactured. As with the majority of cars, the Radio will have probably been changed several times without your knowledge. Whether upgraded from the original forecourt sale, upon delivery, within the warranty period, or when the used car salesman gets hold of it. The chances of your Radio being the original one it came down the production line with are very remote. So if you Main Dealer asks you for a Chassis number of the car, and not of the Radio, you can be sure this isn`t going to work.

When the Dealer supplied Code doesn`t work, they will often refer you to ourselves, or may offer to send it away to have it Decoded, so why not cut out the middle man, save a few quid, and deal with us direct. After all, where do you think the Main Dealer is sending it to?

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What about the Code Programs found on the Internet?

There are many myths floating around on the internet about Car Audio Decoding, and many years ago, somebody decided to compile the myths onto an E-Mail and they bounced around the Industry, things like putting the Radio into the freezer to name the most popular. Many Car Audio Dealers, including ourselves thought that these myths were so funny that we all started to add a few of our own, knowing them not to work, and the comical E-Mails just grew and grew.

But a few clever people went a stage further, and as a means to generate some repair work, turned some of these myths into little executable programs, which in turn were compiled onto CD-Roms and distributed across the Internet for Free. These little programs asked you for a serial number and gave you back a supposed Code number, except that it was not usually the Security Code number, but the Engineers back door Code number allowing access to the main programming menu of the head unit. And after a few guided button presses, Hey Presto, the Radio was Codelocked, and the only way to fix it was to take it to a Repair Centre. For us, this was brilliant, and generated a lot of work for us in resetting these Radio`s as it was so easy to spot the ones that people had been messing about with.

But these programs then took a turn for the worse. The people that had originally written these as a source of income soon realised that the repair work was being given to places like us instead, so the programs were then re-written. As you are reading this on a computer, you will be aware of terms like Trojans and Viruses, well these programs could now infect the Car Radio with a similar condition, and often erase the internal memory completely. In many cases the Radio`s are not actually recoverable, as it was decided that if these people were not going to get the repair work, then nobody else would either.

Most of these programs soon dissapeared, but thanks to a few idiot E-Book sellers who decided to redistribute these again through eBay, they are doing the rounds once more. If you are a frequent user of eBay, then you may know about the recent changes made to the eBay Rules & Policies regarding digital media and E-Book distribution, and the fact that the Trust & Safety department are enforcing this very heavily. Ever wondered why? Well a lot of it is largely due to the damage being caused by the distribution of these Car Radio Code programs and the number of people complaining to eBay after their equipment has been written off.

Think very carefully before entering a code number generated from a 99p eBay disc into a Radio worth many hundreds of pounds. Would it not make more sense spending an extra few quid with a reputable Decoding Centre that has invested more into their Decoding equipment that you have probably spent on your house?

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Can I extract my Code number whilst the radio is still working?

A fair question, but if you think about it, what use would a security code be if a car thief could also access it before removing the stereo from your car, simply by pressing a few buttons?

The only way that your security code number can be determined if you have lost it, is by using a specialist decoding company, such as ourselves

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Is it true that you can stick them in the Freezer to Decode?

This one always makes us laugh, but there was once a brief element of truth to it. Back in the very early days of the Radio Code development, (maybe day two or three), some of the Integrated Circuits (Code Eproms) used on pre-production models were not of a very high standard, and if they were used outside of their normal operating temperature range (ie:cold), they would no longer retain the programmed Code data, and the unit would briefly switch on for a split second before it died completely. (This was pre-production models back in the early 80`s).

But although technology has moved on, the old Wives tale remains. But think about it. How can a sophisticated electronic component self interrogate itself and magically display a heavily encrypted security number, by getting as cold as February? But still people try it! And boy, do we laugh when they do.

If you put your Car Radio in the freezer, before long all of that bare and unprotected metal will appear white and frosty. The display may also have frozen, expanded and cracked by this stage. But the real fun starts when the unit thaws out, as all of that ice will turn to rust and corrosion almost as fast as it melts. Your expensive Radio has now been reduced to a pile of furry orange scrap, for want of saving a few quid on Decoding.

But Hey! Don`t panic! As we are more than happy to supply you a brand new one!

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Can stolen Car Stereo`s be Decoded?

Yes! There is nothing to prevent a Stolen Car Stereo from being Decoded.

So don`t be surprised if we ask you to prove ownership of the Radio. We have a very close rapport with both the local and national Police, and often check up on reported serial numbers. We have identified lots of stolen Radio`s to date, assisted with many prosecutions, and we always pass on information to the Police if we are at all suspicious.

If you suspect that your Radio may have previously been stolen, it may be very unwise to send it to us! If you have had a Stereo stolen, and you have the full model number, serial number, Police crime number, and can prove ownership with receipts, then please E-Mail us with your details, and we will add them to our own Database. Because we cover the UK and most of Europe with our Services, there is a good chance that we may even find it via another Car Audio Dealer sending it in for Decoding, unaware of it`s history! When we do find them, we always pass on the information to the local authorities.

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I Live Nearby, Can I bring My Radio to You in Person?

Most Definately! However, We do not operate a retail premises here in Paignton, and we are not bound by conventional working hours, so if the sun is shining, you may just find the workshop empty and us on the beach instead!

So Visitors, Strictly by Appointment Only Please.

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1st May 2019
Services Resumed

Following some essential communications work behind the scenes, we are now back up and running again. Apologies for any inconvenience.


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