Probably NOT the potentiometer that assists the meter. I would suspect a abad needle in the meter. I'd see if you can get to the adjuster screw on the meters front. Many times it's hard or impossible to adjust due to the way it's mounted.
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is it the meter or the needle on the meter? First find out what kind of radio you own then get an alignment point diagram for it .Now If its a cobra 29 you adjust vr 3 to tighten the needle .Now if its the meter itself you have to take the front off the radio to check the screws that hold the meter in.Just give them a twist and you will be fine.
VR 2 is the pot you are looking for an now you need a modulation meter. Speak into the mic at the volume you will be talking on the radio. One one one one while adjusting for 100 percent anymore an you will begin distorting.
When your needle is all the way in the RED, your swr IS really high. That's what the meter is telling you. You need to clean all of the antenna connection points and adjust the length of the antenna to reduce the SWR (standing wave ratio) which is basically resistance to transmitting signals.
no matter what s/rf you are looking at it should not key much beyond an s-9 . vr 3 controls the meter. Key the mic and adjust it to s-9 then check you modulation.If you still think you need more then adjust vr 4 .
The meter could be shorting out but this is unlikely the wires are very short.
I suspect the meter has suffered a life of slamming to the max rf position because the vr6 pot was not adjusted after the radio was peaked for more power or it is just a poor quality meter. Dont worry i figure it will stop working soon but who knows annoying parts like these often last for the useful life of the device.
ps I have one annoying me on my most cherished Uniden Grant XL now!
Don't worry about the meter in the radio. They are only close to actual reading any way. Just get an external meter. you are better off in the long run, and you don't have to mess with anything inside the radio if you don't know what your doing.
If you must have the meter working correctly, then take it to a truck stop CB shop, or any other cb shop and have it aligned. It should cost about $30. There is equipment needed to align a radio properly and the cost for it far exceeds what an external meter, or having a cb shop align the radio.
Had an issue with this unit since new. Squelch adjusted too high. Not hearing some signals showing on meter. Solution - find a trim pot labelled "Meter" on the PC board and adjust it like a knobby squelch control. Made a big difference to the number of received stations. Down side is I need to use SQT tight squelch sometimes.
A word of advice, never buy a radio second hand. Used radios are sold for some odd reason, and it may be because it is broken. And yes you can do it with your meter, you just have to tune the radio using Coarse and Fine adjustments, also use peaking if you know how, to get a better transmit and receive.