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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have a 2016 RAV4 hybrid Limited. I notice that the SiriusXM radio tends to drop out frequently when there are high trees or hills located on either side of the car, seemingly particular on the right side. It is not totally clear if direction of travel is a factor.

My VW Jetta maintained a station except under overpasses, which is understandable. The RAV drops out much more frequently. We have a lot of tree-lined roads in CT.

Anyone else notice this behavior? Had you found any resolution? I have not tried readjusting the roof rack crossbar (Toyota-supplied) to see if that is a factor, but the rear one is forward of the antenna.
 

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Today my XM was dropping out on me as well.
This is the first time it's happened since I've started driving 2016 rav4 hybrid
about a month now.
Same roads, same time but today XM had issues.
Unknown why.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
XM Refresh

Thanks for that posting. I received a response from SiriusXM technical support suggesting the same, so I have successfully performed the refresh and I will see if that has any beneficial effect on reception.
 

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Your Humble Administrator
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Same here, I'm listening to the free preview that is going on now. I'm getting a lot more dropouts than the last time. It used to be just overpasses, but now it's dropping out when passing by cell towers and other radio towers. I'm wondering if they are having satellite problems.
 

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From the time I got my '11 RAV all during the free trial satellite radio time I had trouble with dropouts. Much of our distance driving is through forest and river canyons, and those limited what stations we could receive and well as causing the dropouts. When the trial period expired I did not renew the satellite service, despite receiving some cut-rate offers from them.
 

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I had a BMW X3 and used SiriusXM exclusively. I had hardly any dropouts. I experienced multiple/frequent dropouts with my wife's 2015 Limited. I now have a 2016 Limited and experience the same multiple/frequent dropouts. There doesn't seem to be any solution or acknowledgment by Toyota. Refreshing the signal is something you do when there's no signal for an extended period of time. These dropouts occur sporadically and last only a few seconds or sometimes a bit longer. But when there's a clearing (no trees or hills on one side of the road) the signal comes right back. Very annoying.

There have been multiple postings in the forum about this with no resolution.
 

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I quickly noticed that problem with our new Limited Hybrid. I think it might be a buffering (or lack there of) problem.
I have a Honda Ridgeline with XM that rarely cuts out. I've noticed that when I pull under an awning with it the radio plays a short time before I lose signal.
I believe the signal is cached to prevent these short lapses.
I'm betting the Toyota radios lack that feature.
 

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After the Sirius and XM merger, there are still both satellites and systems running. Some makes (BMW, Ford, etc) still use the Sirius system, which has multiple satellites in an eccentric orbit at typically higher elevation, while XM (used by Toyota stereos) satellites are geostationary low in the south sky, which is easier to obstruct, but they make use of more terrestrial repeaters.



Also, some wireless carriers are launching LTE on spectrum directly adjacent to SiriusXM's downlink (WCS band), which may result in drop outs in open sky conditions if you are close enough to a tower.
 

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Recently drove from Spokane to Glacier NP in a rental Kia. Lots of Sirius dropouts when deep in the canyons along the way. No idea where the satellites are but they can't be directly overhead all the time. ?
 

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I'm in Palo alto near the 101 and embarcadero.
driving around palo alto, mountain view, and santa clara
the xm drops out a lot.
I never renewed XM subscription after trial ended.
I went with Apple Music instead which doesnt drop in the mountains here in PA like the XM did:rolleyes:
 

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We have a 2016 RAV4 hybrid Limited. I notice that the SiriusXM radio tends to drop out frequently when there are high trees or hills located on either side of the car, seemingly particular on the right side. It is not totally clear if direction of travel is a factor.

My VW Jetta maintained a station except under overpasses, which is understandable. The RAV drops out much more frequently. We have a lot of tree-lined roads in CT.

Anyone else notice this behavior? Had you found any resolution? I have not tried readjusting the roof rack crossbar (Toyota-supplied) to see if that is a factor, but the rear one is forward of the antenna.
It is plenty cloudy here, and I even have HD radio drop out infrequently. It was clear from the start, SirusXM was not going to be dependable enough, to ever consider purchasing. However, SirusXM persisted in trying to contact me by phone, until I finally blocked them. I also use my iphone to get my music and podcasts, and it works great for me.
 

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I also experience frequent dropouts if there's anything to the South - trees, mountains, buildings - higher than maybe 45 degrees from the (ideal) horizon. It's been a problem since new (2012) and is exacerbated with anything on the roofrack (kayak, skis/box, bikes... It's okay most of the time out in the open, but I have noted extensive areas in the West (where I live and drive) where the signal drops out for miles and miles of wide open space. It's a far cry from what I was expecting, but just barely enough better than regular FM to warrant not canceling the service and sinking the cost of the equipment. I haven't seen any improvement in the seven years I've used it, and the self-promotion ads for other stations (why they think an NPR listener would want to listen to Howard Stern or Joel Olsteen is beyond my imagining) seem to get louder every year. I'm not much impressed by Sirius overall but there don't seem to be many competitors and FM is pretty distracting and frustrating when traveling long hauls.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
SiriusXM Signal Dropouts

Part of the issue is that even though SiriusXM is one service, there are two separate groups of satellites. XM uses satellites that are over the equator so for us in the North, they are low on the horizon. Whereas the Sirius satellites are farther above the equator so are more accessible. So it depends on whether your car radio tunes the XM or Sirius satellites. I am not sure why the receivers cannot combine both groups together. I haven't looked into this further for awhile as my reception is pretty good over the winter when there are no leaves on the trees. There are lot of trees here in CT, so in the summer the trees to the southwest of the car tend to block the signal more often.
 

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One solution when travelling in mountainous or dense tree areas is to use the SiriusXM app on your smartphone and connect it your head unit through Bluetooth or an aux input. Another, albeit far, far less effective method, is to contact the company and request additional ground transmitters near those areas.

As an aside, anyone curious about the signal path, I found this in an old article written by Kevin Bonsor:

XM Radio uses two Boeing HS 702 satellites, appropriately nicknamed "Rock" and "Roll," and two BSS 702 satellites it calls "Rhythm" and "Blues," placed in parallel geostationary orbit, two at 85 degrees west longitude and the other two at 115 degrees west longitude. Geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) is about 22,223 miles (35,764 km) above Earth, and is the type of orbit most commonly used for communications satellites. The first XM satellite, "Rock," was launched on March 18, 2001, with "Roll" following on May 8 of the same year. A design flaw in the HS 702 satellite caused its solar panels to function inefficiently. XM launched "Rhythm" on February 28, 2005, and "Blues" on October 30, 2006, to replace the older satellites. Then XM Radio powered down "Rock" and "Roll." The older satellites remain in orbit and can serve as backups, if necessary.

XM Radio's ground station transmits a signal to its two active GEO satellites, which bounce the signals back down to radio receivers on the ground. The radio receivers are programmed to receive and unscramble the digital data signal . . . . In urban areas, where buildings can block out the satellite signal, XM's broadcasting system is supplemented by ground transmitters.

* * * *

Sirius originally used three SS/L-1300 satellites, instead of GEO satellites, to form an inclined elliptical satellite constellation. Sirius said the elliptical path of its satellite constellation ensures that each satellite spends about 16 hours a day over the continental United States, with at least one satellite over the country at all times. Sirius completed its three-satellite constellation on Nov. 30, 2000. A fourth satellite will remain on the ground, ready to be launched if any of the three active satellites encounters transmission problems. In 2006, Sirius purchased a GEO satellite because of its superior signal delivery. The GEO satellite will supplement the elliptical satellites, not replace them. It is currently under construction.

The Sirius system is similar to that of XM. Programs are beamed to one of the three Sirius satellites -- the satellites then transmit the signal to the ground, where your radio receiver picks up one of the channels within the signal. Signals are also be beamed to ground repeaters for listeners in urban areas where the satellite signal can be interrupted.
Looks like some of these satellites are scheduled to be replaced beginning this year. According to Wikipedia:

As of May 2017, there are five satellites in orbit: two XM and two Sirius satellites and one spare. XM-3 and XM-4 are the active satellites for the XM service and replaced the original XM-1 and XM-2 satellites which were placed into a disposal orbit. Sirius FM-5 and FM-6 function as the primaries for the Sirius side. FM-6 which was launched on October 25, 2013 and declared ready for service on December 2, 2013 initially served as an in orbit spare while the company worked to deploy repeaters for the Sirius side which were needed to transition to full geostationary operation. In 2016 FM-6 was put into active service and officially replaced Sirius originals FM-1 through FM-3 which operated in elliptical orbit. FM-1 through FM-3 were later placed into disposal orbits. With this change FM-5 and FM-6 exclusively serve the Sirius service mirroring XM-3 and 4. Before FM-6 was launched, XM-5 was sent into orbit by Proton from Kazakhstan, on October 14, 2010, and is capable of broadcasting to either service. XM-5 serves as the in orbit spare for the entire system and can function in place of either a Sirius or XM satellite. In late 2016 Sirius XM placed an order for two new satellites SXM-7 and SXM-8 which will replace XM-3 and XM-4. These are scheduled for launch in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Sirius satellites broadcast within the S band frequencies from 2.3200–2.3325 GHz, while XM radio uses adjacent frequencies 2.3325–2.3450 GHz.
 

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My '11 RAV4 is gen. 3 and came with 90 days free trial satellite radio. Nearly all of our driving is in mountains and forests and we could never get any stations via satellite which broadcast material other than what we could receive by conventional AM and FM. We did not subscribe once the trial period expired.
 
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