Advice on Icom VHF repair

I've got an Icom M88 that stopped working (2nd time in about a year) and I sent it in and got a price repair quote of 84.00.
I think the unit is about 4 years old or so and I carry it for emergencies and an occasional weather report. I've never transmitted with it. I need to make a decision on whether to spend the 84.00 for repair or buy a new radio. I would appreciate input from others as to what you would do?

When the cost of a repair
equals more than 1/2 the cost of a replacement, I replace it. Otherwise repair.

What caused the 1st failure and is this one related? That could be something else to consider.

When My ICOM Died…
I replaced it with a Uniden Voyager from West Marine. Been happy and it is smaller than the ICOM I killed and a new warranty,.

You won’t get much of a radio for $84…
…so it seems prudent to fix yours. I’m also curious about the nature of the problem. I’ve only heard of two issues with M88s, both of which are easily prevented with a little regular maintenance.

and cost of battery
Li-Ion batteries die of old age at around 4 years no matter how you use or don’t use them. So you are looking at a repair and a likely battery replacement in short order. I believe the battery for the M88 is around $130. BTW, one of the bad things about these batteries aging out is they will still seem to charge fine and they continue to have a normal voltage, but they have a much lower capacity to provide current/power. This is not a problem when using the radio for receiving as the current demand is low. When you try to transmit much, the radio with an old battery can just stop since there is inadequate current to function. In an emergency, that is not a good thing.

Shop around - can get for $45 or less

– Last Updated: Jan-04-08 11:25 AM EST –

But common prices are around $100 range.




If it will cost you that plus a new battery - get a new radio.

If they’re including a battery as part of the repair/refurbishment - get it fixed (you might end up getting a new one doing that anyway depending on what the issue is - as replacement can be cheaper for them than fixing).

What’s a reasonable lifespan/replacement schedule for this sort of thing anyway?

I have a 5 year old Voyager that died - but all it needs is a new battery and antenna. I got a new M72 instead (Voyager was fine, but the M72 is a MUCH better unit IMO). I’ll eventually get the parts for the Voyager too so I can have it as a backup/loaner radio.

Don’t recall reason for 1st failure

But below is the email I just got From Icom:

Icom America, Inc. has estimated the parts and labor necessary to repair your M88, Following is a detailed explanation of the repairs required, and the complete estimate for repair.

Description of repairs required



Total Repair Estimate (excluding freight): $ 84.00

I always submerged the unit in fresh water after taking it to the ocean so I don’t know what the deal is with the contacts.

Brian’s point is a good one unless (as eel says) I also need to replace the battery.

Maybe I’ll ask the factory to estimate the battery condition and decide from there. I would guess they have the means to do that?!

Thanks Grayak for the links and thank you all for the advice.


If you repair it
It will be as new, except for the battery. They do a good service job there. I live near their repair facility and had battery problems. The unit has a 3 year warranty, but only 1 year on the battery. I bought a new one from them, and the AA battery pack as a backup. They had a very reasonable price for the new battery. They also cleaned everything up. Radios is what they do and they do them for the best. (Read US military). I’d trust my Icom M88 repaired with a new battery for a total cost of about $150 more than any radio I could buy for $150. However, a new one is not much more… and if your battery works, you have a spare battery and antenna.

So what exactly is wrong?
What actually is wrong with your radio?


That sounds like something you could easily do yourself.


Why does the waterproofing need to be enhanced? If the original waterproofing is not adequate (perhaps the reason for the corrosion?), then why is Icom charging you to enhance it?


What exactly is ALIGN? What specs? Is the radio currently out of spec? This sounds like just a BS way for Icom to make money.

E-mail them back, ask them for a detailed description of exactly why your radio doesn’t work. Ask for a line-item break-down of each of the proposed service items. Ask why each item is necessary.

Standard services and charges I suspect

– Last Updated: Jan-04-08 6:07 PM EST –

My experience is when you ship a commercial/marine/ham radio to be repaired/checked, there is a standard minimum fee and it includes having them checking to make sure the radio is up to spec and if off to have it aligned to spec. This could include many things such as freq. needs calibrated to the modulation is out of spec. I would not disagree that in many cases nothing needs to be done and its just one way to explain a standard fee for a standard set of checks. I do know that most waterproof cameras are expected to be inspected by the factory for waterproofing every two or three years since gaskets, etc. do wear out especially if used hard in a saltwater setting. I suspect that is also true of radios. I agree correcting a little corrosion could be handled by the owner, but it was sent in for repair and we do not know what condition the radio was in.

Icom makes many types of radios and they are accustomed to doing thorough repairs/checks as part of their routine servicing. It is not like taking you TV or VCR in to a local repair shop. You are talking about repairmen who must have the required FCC licenses to work on these radios and they know someone's life could be on the line. So its not cheap for a reason and $84 is really down there when you think of what it costs them.

FWIW, $84 is the minimum standard fee charged by ICOM to inspect and repair a radio.

i’m with Mintjulep
(man that is a funny handle…)

i would be asking exactly the same, never mind the car dealership talk, tell me what is wrong with the dam radio. i sent my M1V to Icom for service and it took a few phone calls to get things set straight. they were going to charge me but i got the name of the company president and decided to write a follow up letter. they have a big service dept, and, like any other kind of service center, they want to run it as a profit center, so will try and charge what you will bear. not saying they won’t do a good job, i know they are the best at what they do, but ALWAYS investigate further, or you’re just being taken for a ride, that’s how things work. colour me a cynic if you will, but you should stand up for yourself in the marketplace.

Talk is cheaper than qualified techs…
… which neither of you is. Go ahead and agree with MJ all you want, but shared opinion or not it’s an unrealistic position.

My Uniden Voyager ceased to work due to battery not taking a charge (corroded battery contacts/dead battery)- and a corroded (disintegrated) antenna - but this was after at 4 of years (a full year out of warranty) of salt water use, with near zero care (not even any silicone grease on connections/threads/contacts). I can just buy a new battery and antenna in this case, but if seals or something else were also shot and I sent it in I would not be expecting a free/cheap repair. I would expect a minimum standard charge (including all basic checks whether really needed or not), and the parts on top of that.

Even while still in warranty many charge a standard fee - difference is it’s usually a bit less and no charges beyond that on covered repairs.

Maybe your batteries die of old age…

– Last Updated: Jan-05-08 7:52 AM EST –

...but the batteries for my M88 and M1V are still fine after 6-8 years.

It’s easy to prevent contact corrosion
That happened to a friend’s radio and ICOM fixed it under warranty. They also suggested lubing the contacts with silicone grease, along with greasing the O-ring. If you do that periodically, you won’t have that problem again.

Spoke with them on the phone
After speaking with Icom I got the impression that they probably glanced at the radio and my letter requesting an estimate before doing any work, then quickly just came up with a figure that they probably wouldn’t loose money on. The guy said the “ENHANCE WATERPROOFING” involved putting something on all the seals (standard procedure when the unit is apart) and the “ALIGN AND SET TO SPECS” he told me that he didn’t know if the radio was out of spec or not but that they check them anyway and set as necessary. So I came away from the conversation feeling like it’s pretty much the way that eel says it is.

I think I’ll get a new radio. The battery will be new and it’ll have a new factory warranty.