Introduction: How to Cure Car Cassette Adapter "auto-reverse Flip-flop"

Picture of How to Cure Car Cassette Adapter "auto-reverse Flip-flop"

For the last few months, while listening to my ipod through the car stereo via cassette adapter, I have been driven to near insanity by what I call "auto-reverse flip-flop". This is where the car stereo thinks it's got to the end of the cassette and tries to auto-reverse your adapter and play the other side of it. The fact that a cassette adapter doesn't have an 'end' or even an other side seems to mean nothing to car stereos.

One of the worst things is that it has an element of randomness; there seems no logic to when it will happen. Some days it won't happen at all.. others (usually when there is a podcast I really want to listen to) it will kick in almost immediately. The constant 'kerchink-flip-kerchunk-flop" is unbelievably annoying. After ripping the thing out of the tape deck and smashing it against the dash several times didn't fix it, I tried to find a solution on the internet. I discovered that this was a VERY common occurrence. It even seemed like all adapters, no matter how expensive, would eventually end up doing the auto-reverse flip-flop.

Anyway I did learn of an easy way to solve it. I found this solution in more than one internet forum but there were never any pictures to show you how, so I thought it would be worth an Instructable. It's really easy to do.. all you need is a screwdriver.

EDIT: Firstly thanks for so many kind and amazing comments! - it makes me so happy to know that so many have been helped by the instructions (and saved from insanity). Secondly if you still experience problems after this fix, make sure to read through the comments as there are several suggestions/improvements put forward. It seems like you can actually get away with removing all of the gears! although I haven't tested this. Also If you have problems with low volume after the fix you may need to reverse the wire and insert the adaptor the other way around.

Step 1: Dismantle

Picture of Dismantle

Find out how your adapter is joined together and undo it. I'm pretty sure most of them are joined with small screws like mine is, but it could be some other way. You might need a small jeweler's screwdriver if the screws are really tiny but I managed with just my swiss-army.

WARNING: When you open it up all of the component will become "loose" inside because the top of the case is no longer holding them down. Try to identify which half of the case is the "lid" and which half has the spindles for the gears etc. Take the lid side off GENTLY otherwise the bits will fly everywhere and you'll be buggered. If that happens you could try and piece it back together from the photos, but there's no guarantee they'd be the same. Mine is a Digitor brand (on a par with Panaphonics and Sorny I think).

Step 2: Identify Trouble-maker

Picture of Identify Trouble-maker

Ok now you can see the guts of the thing. You need to identify the bit which causes the tape-deck to try and auto-reverse. It should be a collection of a few gears which move independently on a plate. The plate swivels up and down as well. This is the trouble-maker! No one seems to know exactly why this is even in a cassette adapter which doesn't need to auto-reverse but anyway this is what's causing the problems.

Step 3: Remove Trouble-maker

Picture of Remove Trouble-maker

Go ahead and whip it out! Hopefully it will look something like my photo.

Be careful not to disturb the other stuff in there, or if you do, put it back where you found it! All the other bits are necessary!

It might be worth memorizing where the bits go (or take a photo) before you start fiddling with it. But if you're like me you will realize this after you have dropped it and spread the gears all over the floor.

Step 4: Success!!

Picture of Success!!

Screw the cover back together the way you found it. Make sure the gears are all lining up where they should do and none of the wires are getting pinched in the side.

Success!! Get ready for some trouble-free listening!

Plug it in and hopefully you should have no more problems with the auto-reverse flip-flop. I read that some people reported the noise from the gears got a bit louder after doing this but personally mine sounded exactly the same as before.


Step 5: Decide Its Fate...

Picture of Decide Its Fate...

While part of me wants to suggest you immediately crush this part under your foot, it's probably best you make sure your adapter still works first. After you've confirmed this, feel free to dispose of it how you see fit...


87 ChevyS (author)2018-01-12

removing all gears dose not work it will not play any muisc

Jessman1128 (author)2017-10-01

Thank you for posting this! Totally saved the day for me. My adapter wouldn't play in my car at all, and now it works well!!

BostonFern (author)2017-07-28

My problem has more to do with the cassette player than with the adapter. It just won't wind/play any tape, good or bad. If I put a tape inside the player, would try to play, then it would immediately reverse the tape, then it would push out the tape. It's as though it can't move the tape toward either side.

I'm wondering whether there is any need for the winding to happen at all. If the my player meets no resistance while playing, then perhaps my cassette player adapter would work. I don't play actual cassette at all.

Soporific1 (author)2017-07-12

My adapter was slightly different, the gears at the bottom right were trying to pass themselves off as useful. Little did they know...

I found this tool useful in disposing of the unnecessary parts. Found at your local hardware store for $30.

Your pieces should look like this if you have done a proper job. Do note, they may try to escape.

Thanks for the writeup blackjimmy! It really was easy. :)

tbor62 (author)2017-06-12

Thank you. I thought it was the car heater.

wayneph (author)2016-08-22

This worked perfectly saving me hundreds of dollars to replace the sound system in my Harley ultra classic. I am eternally greatfull.

DanielA337 (author)2016-07-30

You guys do know. That theres an easier way. Simply rearrange the aux cord to the other side and flip the tape. Lol.

wayneph (author)DanielA3372016-08-22

unfortunately that did not work on my harley ultra classic

ShonW2 (author)DanielA3372016-08-20

Yessss dude thanks i was like wtf until i saw yur comment thanks alot i never knew that

AlexT191 (author)2016-07-10

And FWIW if anybody was unable to fix their tape deck... I get my "Scorshe Casette Adapter" at Target for $12.99 and it definitely works. And AFAIK all Targets have them. For mine it was 3 seperate gears, the one causing the prpblem had a piece of cushoning around it... And was on the top left of the player. Good luck!

AlexT191 (author)2016-07-10

Thank you so much for the tip! Ive been having incessant problems with my tape deck but this fixed it! Only took about 3minutes to fix as well. Youre a life savee!

AnnaB130 (author)2016-07-09

I tried literally everything and it still did not work. I bought 4 different tapes and they all reject. I tried different variations of the mechanisms inside and nothing worked. I'm just accepting defeat that my cassette deck has died.

PrescottG (author)2016-05-22

Logged in just to say that this works! I had a similar cassette made by Philips.

ChristopherM139 (author)2016-04-17

I did this but now all it does is try to rewind itself. I removed the thing that looks almost exactly like the one pictured here. Any fixes for this?

breakitall (author)2016-04-15

Mine was missing a few gears compared to yours, but I was able to get it to stop skipping by taking out the thingy-mah-jig! I had to take it apart again though because the side going in was wrong (I don't know why) so I pulled the wire through the opposite side and it's works just fine now. :)

McM8 (author)2016-04-05

Thank you so much! It worked and now I hear the music of my choice in my classic Cadillac!

Sidneyj8991 (author)2016-04-02

Dude, why can't all problems be fixed by this guy?

karaflossy (author)2016-02-11

thank you so much I wish I had found this a long time ago before I endured the imminent paint of constant switching and ejecting for 6 years.

XTheBlackArrowX (author)2015-11-27

This fixed my problem of it auto ejecting, but why is it still only playing sound out of the right side of my car?

liamthom (author)XTheBlackArrowX2016-01-18

do you have a pair of headphones to test if your deivice works properly? with my old phone it only played on one side. if it works with the headphones it could be the adapter

LeeM46 (author)2015-12-21

YES! It worked! Thank you so much for posting! My adapter is a $5 off-brand from the dollar store. Exact same set-up as in the photos.

JeffC60 (author)2015-11-10

I have a Monster iCarPlay cassette adapter and it was driving me bananas with its constant auto-reversing and ejecting! Sometimes, it would take 10, 15, or maybe even 20 tries to get it to stay in the deck! I found these instructions and it solved my problem. The only difference between my adapter and the one shown in the instructions is, when I opened my cassette, I did not find a plate holding the three gears together as illustrated in Step 2 or Step 5, but rather, there were three separate gears (including the one with the rubber o-ring/gasket others have mentioned) albeit in the lower right-hand corner as illustrated in Step 2. I was able to remove each gear very easily and then the inside of the adapter looked very much like the picture in Step 3. Upon testing it in my Toyota Avalon, I will admit that I could hear the remaining main gears moving more than before, but not really bad and, once the music is on (and A LOT of the time I play it LOUD), I don't even notice. Perhaps the three auto-reverse gears also helped give all the gears a nice tight fit? I'm going to take the o-ring/gasket off the one gear and save those three gears and maybe reinstall them and see if it totally quiets down those main gears. Regardless, these instructions were a BIG help to me and now I won't have to keep getting upset and shoving my cassette adapter into my tape deck any more! :)

dcunningham14 made it! (author)2015-09-10

Works great! Thanks!! ?

samual.krokson (author)2015-03-06

I'm on the road without a screwdriver. I used a pick and ripped the rubber off the first gear in the cluster you removed, no fix. Then I used force with the pick and got that first gear out of there, no fix.Then I broke the 6 teeth off out of the center of the right reel, as pictured in your pictures right,and it works perfectly now. You can probably skip the first two parts and just break off the teeth on the right reel. I did this without taking the adapter apart.

wwear (author)samual.krokson2015-08-30

I just did the exact same thing. Removing the rubber worked for me. Guess it just depends on the deck

wwear (author)2015-08-30

I found this right before punching my radio through the dashboard in my truck. (2001 F-250). Problem is no screw driver small enough to open it. So I pulled out my pocket knife and cut off that rubber o-ring as it was the only thing I could access. Well, it worked!!! I suggest trying that if you're in a pinch. I even managed to pull it off while going down the highway (not recommended)

KimberlyS12 (author)2015-08-07

worked for me, THANKS so much! Mine looked a bit different, instead of 1 piece, it was 3, but it works! Sooooooo Happy!

BosscottE (author)2015-08-03

Didn't work for me, but since mine was $6 from Dollar General, maybe it never would have!

RichardMoynihan (author)2015-07-22

Thank you very much for posting this. It worked perfectly for me.

DennisB7 (author)2015-07-17

For those who are curious the purpose of the piece removed is to automatically reverse the tape deck if it is trying to play from the wrong side... If it won't play after removing this, put in a regular tape and fast forward to the end (or it may reverse immediately, it does, do not play to the end or it reverse again).

Jaiess (author)2015-06-18

Hey all! I tried removing the problem cogs, no luck, tried breaking the teeth, no luck, tried taking all the gears out, no luck! I've got a bmw 3 series year 2000, suggestions?

SylviaL1 (author)2015-06-18

It didn't work. I have a 2000 Laredo. Think it might be something inside my cassette player? I took out the gears. It's works a bit longer but still ejects.

LameD (author)2015-05-11

LadyAlice (author)2015-05-01

Thanks this worked great I had 2 that I fixed. A Phillips and a Jensen.

Anand_witha_d (author)2015-04-30

Anand_witha_d (author)2015-04-30

sergioametheone1. (author)2015-04-25

Works great!! Thanks a lot!!

delbert.wilson10 (author)2015-04-15


SamualK (author)2015-03-06

My fix works perfectly broke off the 6 teeth on the inner right side real.

ana.reinhard (author)2015-02-09

amazing that was simple. It works now, thank you! :)

zuka.markelia13 (author)2015-01-14

nothing works for mine adapter :( I have mercedes w211

anilK9 (author)2015-01-01

it works......good way of presenting instructions

nidhi83 (author)2014-11-22

ok, i did exactly what i was supposed to, but it didn't work for me! My car stereo is still flip flopping, followed by tape ejection. i have a 2005 volvo s80, and this is driving me crazy! Does ANYONE have any other ideas? please don't hesitate to share!

cody.austin.397 (author)nidhi832014-12-16

You might try running a cassette cleaning tape through it. That was actually my first issue, now I'm running into the random flip flop.

nidhi83 (author)cody.austin.3972014-12-16

hi cody,

I did the cassette cleaning thing, but it didnt work for me. :-(

now im just burning cd's b/c i dont have the time, money, or energy to deal with this anymore!

christin.coleman.56 (author)2014-12-11

Thank you!!!!! This was genius!!!! My playlist will not be interrupted today!!!!

robertgray2342 (author)2014-03-12

For those of you still having problems, read this -

I'm using the Monster iCarPlay cassette adapter and my car is a 1996 Nissan Pathfinder.

I followed the instructables steps and removed that auto-reverse piece. The cassette then worked, but the tape deck still wouldn't recognize the cassette in some situations - it seems randomly. Also, it was making a lot more noise (I could hear the gears moving loudly). So, I removed all of the gears from the inside. No more noise at all. But, again, my car's tape deck was spitting out the tape from time to time. I read through the comments here and followed someone's advice to switch the cord to the other side of the cassette adapter, so that I could put the adapter into the tape deck upside down. This worked. All I did was open up the adapter again, switch the cord from going out of the left side of the cassette to going out of the right side of the cassette, and was then able to put the cassette into the tape deck upside down. Now it works, and my car doesn't spit out the adapter anymore. But, this gave way to a whole new issue, which was that now the volume was way too low, meaning that I had to turn the volume way up to hear anything (using the volume knob in my car, not the ipod). Also, the sound was now only playing out of one side of my car (left side) instead of both. I tried pushing a bunch of buttons on my car stereo and when I hit the "PROG" button, everything was magically fixed. The volume was normal again, with no need to turn it way up, and the sound was coming from both speakers, left and right. So, all problems are now fixed. I think the "PROG" button simply switched the player from playing forwards to playing in reverse, because the little "play" arrow went from "facing right" to "facing left". I don't know why that works, but it does! If you are having volume problems, I suggest finding your "PROG" button and pressing it. Or if your car doesn't have that button, try to find out if your car's stereo has a function which plays the tape in reverse.

AHHH! THANK YOU SO MUCH! This helped!! I was so frustrated and found the button you were talking about and VIOLA! So thank you! To hte orginal poster and yourself!

PetrichorXFi (author)2014-08-05

Thanks for the instructable!

What model number do you have? Looks like good quality with more electronic components than most I've seen. How much did it cost?

I've used two separate tape adapters on my Ford Escort ZX2, both worked at first... 1st started flop flop after ~6months, 2nd (I think Sony branded... got from Best Buy)started fip flop only ~2 months.

I'll try this fix myself... hopeful :-) (author)PetrichorXFi2014-10-23

Did this work for you bc i also have a Ford escort and the tape adapter keeps spitting out

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