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.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 87Next »
SamualK25 days ago

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


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.

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

nothing works for mine adapter :( I have mercedes w211

anilK92 months ago

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

nidhi834 months ago

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!

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.

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!

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

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!

PetrichorXFi7 months ago
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 :-)
Did this work for you bc i also have a Ford escort and the tape adapter keeps spitting out
Jamesv45 months ago

I followed the directions and now I have music in the car again! This is particularly important in the San Diego area, where FM radio today is about the same as AM radio back in the 1970s. I can imagine the Onion headline now: "Area Man Saved From 1970s Radio Time Warp"

DhampirHunter5 months ago

Recently bought a Gigaware adapter from RadioShack for my 2001 Honda Accord with the original Honda stereo inside. After about a day, it started the auto-reverse flip-flopping and the spitting out of the tape =(.
First, I removed the "trouble maker" as per the original instructions. After that it would play for a little bit and then would just permanently flip to the other side. Pressing "Prog" would fix the issue for a little bit, but then it would flip over again and just get stuck on the wrong side.
Secondly, I tried every single combination of removing all the other gears and teeth/removing just the gears and leaving the teeth/removing just the middle gear and leaving the teeth with the gears under them. The first option would immediately spit the tape out after the stereo wasn't able to recognize that there was even a tape inside. The second and third resulted in the stereo recognizing the tape, but then you hear the teeth spinning faster and faster, and then it would just spit it out. No music whatsoever.
In the end, I put back everything except for the "trouble maker" and swapped the cable to the other side. So far, works like a charm. No need to press "Prog" and the sound/bass comes out just fine. The only downside is the "grinding" of the teeth, which is easily drowned out by the music...and the bass.

I guess it just depends on how old or what model stereo system you have? Only time will tell if this is a permanent fix. Thank you for all the helpful comments.

david.a.siver6 months ago

The "trouble maker" has a purpose. By default, the tape adapter plays on side one. This "trouble maker" forces the radio to play on that particular side.

If your radio never plays on side one without switching to side two like mine did, here's how you fix that:

1. Follow the instructions in this to remove the "trouble maker"

2. Swap the cable to the other end of the tape adapter

Your tape adapter will now be inserted flipped in the opposite direction and will play on side two.

JacobS46 months ago


Great but I have an improvement that will fix the gear noise.. Take out all the gears, they do nothing anyway.. it work flawlessly..

Thank you, this worked perfectly for me. As others said the tape noise isn't heard when you're pumping tunes!

thank you! Worked like a charm! I fixed it in my car using my small pocket knife. Mine was an RCA "Car Connecting Pack Compact Disc Cassette Adapter" --an old one I had. I just bought a used car and it has a auto reverse tape deck. I thought great this will be nice but then has the problem with it auto reversing and ejecting. Your simple fix took five minutes and now I'm jamming out on my to music on my iPod. Thanks again!

lupin4110 months ago

That worked for me, perfectly! Thanks a ton!

If I may add something to help others: on my adapter I was able to remove *just* wheel with the rubber-ring.

Thanks again!

grenacia11 months ago

I just disassembled four of these, since that's how many I had that don't work with my car anymore. They all had slightly different "guts", but one thing that was consistent on all four was that the side with the spindles had four screws at each corner, and the "lid" side had two screws at the bottom. So if you have an adaptor with those patterns of screws, unscrew the four corner screws on the one side first, then flip and unscrew the other two, to avoid having parts fall out before you can see what goes where!

Thanks! after smashing the Cassette Adapter and beating the top of my dash a few times and chucking the friggin adapter into the back of my Tahoe i was going to give up and get a double din head unit but i thought i would search up if any one got this magic stick to work ..BAM!! I'll have to give this a try and rub one out if it works!!

sclaus10483 years ago
Sorry. It didn't work for me. My Volvo still spits out the tape adapter. And yes, I followed dupecoop's advice for a re-do, Perhaps's it's the audio device in the car itself that is causing the rejection.

Same for my Volvo S70 - didn't work. It started flip-flopping with an even higher frequency. So as well as taking out the three little gears, I flipped the place where the wire comes out and put the casette in upside-down. So far that has worked fine - though I'm still not sure why. I've yet to try removing ALL the gears.

shahinh791 year ago
I tried removing the auto reverse mechanism and the car stereo still ejects it out after 1 sec. playing. I also tried rerouting the wire so I can flip the cassette and I still had the same problem. I purchased a brand new cassette adapter and I still have the same problem. The car is a mitsubishi 1999 galant and the stereo is all in japanese. I had people translate the various buttons and non did help my problem. Is there another solution to this problem or do I need to buy a new car stereo?
plewis121 year ago
i did this and now it plays but after about 2 songs it will cutt out and stop an pplay stop an play then spit it right out what can i do ?
Fritman3 years ago
This did not work for me but it did help in figuring out the problem!...... That mechanism is intended to mimic a ribbon and trick the player into thinking there is one present....... However, the ribbon sensor is not in the same location in my car cassette player; it's looking for it in the other opening..... Look at black jimmy's step # 2 figure...... The item he's removing is to the right of the read head, but my player is looking for it to be on the left of the read head....... I simply rerouted the cable to exit the cassette to the right (with the help of a dremmel to make a small opening), which allowed me to insert the cassette into my player from the other direction..... Presto, it works just fine, with the mechanism not removed!..... Hope this helps others..... Regards
Will try this. Thanks!
yente561 year ago
Help! I took the part out and it stayed in the cassette player but there was virtually no sound. Heard a little with volume ALL the ways up. Not useful. Put the parts back in and does what it did before. Switches back and forth and ejects with a "reel error" message. Piece of shite! If I had my receipt I'd take it back but I don't. It works fine in a different vehicle. My old one worked ok too so it's not the player ( it has a short in it that's why I am replacing it). Any further suggestions?
sharonrob1 year ago
Thank you, love the instructions, and it works now... Brilliant. Its fate. I ran over it Hahahaha
Can someone please help?
I did this and the flip flopping did stop however, now the volume is messed up. I need to turn the volume all the way up on my ipod and stereo to actually hear the music which increases the treble hiss.
How do I fix this?
Thanks for making this! I was glad to see it was the cassette adaptor and not the deck so a relatively easy fix. Note: I did get a louder whirring noise after removing the autoreverse segment and testing it out, so like others here i removed all the gears and jt works great! thx
fokus082 years ago
Thank you! I had a great top of the line stereo before I sold it all because of some hard times. I super downgraded back to my old stock stereo head deck with a cassette player so at least I had a radio, I then remembered that these things existed. I never ever had to use one before and when the damn thing wanted to autoreverse every 10 seconds I wanted to crash my car into a tree. I googled, found this... You saved my car from a tree. Thanks! Lol
greenhorn882 years ago
Thanks for the vid. My adapter works great. If you want to get rid of at least some of the noise from the cogs try WD40 or any other lubricant.
haydenman22 years ago
I came across this instructable by accident but it worked for me. 2 minutes and I had my tape adapter working finally. I was about to give up and get a whole new deck.
xx7ee2 years ago
This was a simple and well instructed guide! Thanks so much for sharing your information! It helped me solve the same problem.

I thought it was the car cassette player that was busted but it turns out it can easily be fixed. Thanks again!
ndipo1232 years ago
I tried this on my iDeck from Cyanics, which is similar to this product but it is an actual deck and connects to the ipod through its rectangular "usb" port. I unscrewed every thing but i was unable to open the tape. However, I was able to fish out the auto-flip mechanism. I put all the screws back and and tested in my car. There was no auto-flipping but now sound wont come out of my left speaker. This only happens when I use the iDeck, not with other cassettes or when the radio is on. Is there a way to fix this?
landho2 years ago
Just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your posting this. My mp3 adapter was changing directions willy-nilly, and as my friends can attest, it was driving me crazy. Your post helped me fix this. Thank you again so much.
jordan3145 years ago
Thanks!! This has been bothering me for 12 years in my old car. Punching the dash and screaming at it never helped. :) My tape adapter is similar but less complicated. I just removed one of the gears that stopped it from only going in one direction. It makes a louder whirring noise now but is easily drowned out by my ipod! Woo!
From my reply above (I have a Scosche adapter):

"I was still hearing the gears turning which was a nuisance, so I just went ahead and removed all of the gears and guts, leaving ONLY the metal contacts and the circuit board. I figured that what I was hearing were the plastic gears turning and rubbing up against the plastic inside of the tape.

Sure enough, after removing all of the gears, including the "teeth" that catch the tape spinner inside of the cassette player, it was silent. With the volume at zero, I heard nothing but silence. I hit play on my iPod and it was like listening to a CD. No gear-spinning clicking...just music."
1-40 of 87Next »