Just like automobile itself, any mechanically driven or technology-based gadget can malfunction without prior notice. Unlike humans, these non-living cannot speak out expressly what the problems are but they often give signs for someone who is careful enough to detect. We intend to highlight some common car stereo problem and solution to them. You likely might wonder how they occur and what could be done to solve most of them by yourself without any serious reference to a technician.
Common car stereo problems include lack of output, distortion or abrupt cuts, no display, no sound from radio/speaker, overheating, and installation/grounding problems. While you may experience other problems, these are common and experienced by owners with expensive stereo systems. By simply changing their location area or replacing damaged components, you can get your car stereo back to good working condition. Other tips include checking the connections and wiring from the amplifier to the speakers and from the stereo to all the connected outputs. You should also make sure the amp’s power is enough or replace the power cable. Your car stereo problem might be unique, so we recommend hiring a professional if the problem is out of hand.
How do I identify a problem?
You identify that your car stereo has a problem or is about to give a fault when it does not function properly as it ought to be.
The sound produced may be distorted, the volume may be cracking, fixing it back (if the model you get is removable faceplate) may pose difficulty and hosts of others that hitherto were not coming up during your day to day handling.
Car stereo has power but no sound from speakers
Normally when a car stereo produces no sound it’s usually caused by a shorted or grounded wire, defective speakers, faulty head unit or fuses or the entire setup is not yet complete with your radio unit.
Sometimes it may be that the connecting wire at the back of the speaker has disconnected, needing you to just re-plug.
Car stereo cuts out when volume is turned up
Most likely you might have a speaker issue. It could even be a bad speaker that reads continuity between the basket and the speaker leads. Power issues are second on the list. You may need to check ground point, check voltage with a load and you will most likely detect and correct the error.
It may also be that, either the speaker terminal is grounding to the metal in the door or the speaker has blown and is not reading a stable ohm load that the amplifier can handle.
In most cases, it is the former that normally occur. In that case, you need to unhook all the speaker’s wire from the output of the amplifier, put a DMM to beep when there is continuity and put one lead on ground to test every individual wire with the other.
With medium force bang on the door in front where the speaker is affixed, you will see if it beeps even for a second with corresponding wires tested.
If no DDM, then unhook one door speaker at a time and crank up the volume. If the speaker is grounded out or too low in ohm load, isolating it will cure the problem and whichever speaker being unhooked fixes the problem automatically.
Car stereo has power but no display
This type of issue often occurs most especially in cars with old age. There are several possible causes of this type of problem with the most common ones coming as a result of blown fuses, bad wiring or grounding of wires. Follow these steps systematically:
- If your car stereo does not have an alarm, take the stereo out of the cockpit but do not unplug.
- Locate the ground terminal and constant wires.
- On your multi-meter and set it on DC mode.
- Place its negative clip end on the ground terminal, while the positive is fixed on the constant wire. Check the stereo manual to know where the constant wire is located if you have problem locating it. Please note also that wires come either in green or yellow color.
- Check what your multi-meter reads. If you have done everything correctly, your multi-meter should show twelve volts and if all is now well with the stereo, the meter should indicate that reading. In case that your multi-meter does not show a value, prepare to examine your car fuses for possible cut or blown. If you have correct voltage on the constant wire and the multi-meter shows values around twelve volts, you can proceed to locate and test the twelve-volt switch wire which is either the yellow or red.
- Check the stereo back for information as regards types and colors of wires.
- Set your car to appropriate ignition position.
- Turn your key to the ‘accessory’ position.
- With the multi-meter in your hand and with the negative clip end on the ground, touch the volt switch wire with the positive clip end.
- Check your results. If the multi-meter gives no value after you must have done everything, then it means one of your fuses has blown out. If the meter reads twelve volts, it means that both the switch and its fuses are in order. Still, if the meter reading confirms that everything is OK, yet your stereo refuses to come upstream, then check the stereo’s ground presence.
- Locate the black ground wire and connect it to the stereo.
- Set the multi-meter to continuity mode. With the negative clip end still on the ground terminal, place the positive clip on the black ground wire. If presence exists then your multi-meter should make a sound.
- Replace the bad wire. If no sound is produced having convinced yourself that all you needed to do have been done perfectly, the problem is most likely in the wiring.
- Make sure the stereo and car ground wires are connected together. Disconnect the wire and open it a little then reconnect again. If all these fail, try one last thing.
- Check the fuse by locating the car fuse box under the hood of the car or under the steering wheel.
- Take a flat headed screwdriver and unscrew the lid of the fuse box. Once you do that, check to see if you can find the stereo fuse and take it out. Test it with a multi-meter to see if it is blown. Testing a car fuse is the same like testing any other fuse; Just place the positive probe on the positive side and the negative probe on the negative side; all that is left for you to do is to note the multi-meter’s reading. If the fuse is blown, replace it. But if the fuse is in working order and after all these troubleshooting the problem persists, then visit your professional technician.
Car stereo cuts out randomly
The problem is often with the speaker wiring system. A break or crimp in the speaker wiring passage through or into a door can cause the sound to cut off entirely.
The problem could also be a bad amplifier or its bad wiring. If everything is done and no positive result still, checks out the head unit itself as it may have failed.
If the audio sound is intermittently cutting through one or more of your speakers when playing your stereo, there may be a problem with the connection or a problem with the speakers.
You should turn off the stereo receiver to verify if the speaker wires are properly connected to the audio-visual receiver or not.
Car stereo turns off by itself or loses power
This may occur is the car stereo receiver had shut down or lost power due to a loose or bad connection. Follow these steps to try to resolve this issue:
- If the car stereo has a removable faceplate, clean the metal connectors using a cotton swab.
- Reset the car stereo to factory specifications.
- Turn on the car stereo and verify if the issue is resolved.
- If the issue is still not resolved
- Engage the service of a qualified installer or
- Visit your dealer.
However, it is important to get your car audio installed by a qualified professional and be armed with the appropriate product manuals before venturing into self-help as indicated above.
Car radio turns on but no sound
This may be as a result of a blown off amplifier. In some cases, a broken wire or bad connection in the speaker wires where they pass through into a door can also cut off the sound altogether rather than just cutting off the sound to one speaker. The most likely cause of audio-cut from the speakers is disconnection, broken wires or wrong connection to the amp. A wire from the head unit to the speaker is fairly common with new audio builds.
Basically when a car stereo produces no sound it is usually caused by a shorted or grounded wire, defective speakers, faulty head fuses, or setup is not yet complete with your radio unit.
Radios have all sorts of wires going in and out of them. Each wire serves a specific purpose for the car stereo to operate correctly. A car stereo will always have 3 different power wires going to the deck section. Black (usually ground) Red (usually battery) and Yellow (usually constant power), make sure that your car radio has these 3 wires hooked up correctly.
- After ensuring that power gets to the radio unit correctly as it should and no sound yet, then check your speaker wires.
- Make sure each wire is set up correctly and making a good connection with the appropriate code and color. The wire colors will differ depending on year, make and model, always verify what each wire does before operating on them. Be concerned with the speaker wires which are the set of positive and negative wires that hook up to each speaker.
- Take your dash panels apart to verify each wire to see detect if any is faulty.
- While you were checking your wires out, you may notice only 1 speaker didn’t produce sound.
- If you have verified that the wiring to the speaker is correct but it does not produce sound still, then something that requires the expertise of a qualified technician must have occurred.
- Get to your expert for proper check.
Car stereo ground wire problem
Poor grounding can cause the amplifiers to cut in and out. When the car stereo is turned up, the amps pull more current. If the system has an unreliable ground the amp cannot pull the needed current. This normally sends the amp into clipping which may fry it up if not timely corrected.
What is most desirable of all we have been saying in our review above is getting you abreast with common problems that can occur while using your best car stereo irrespective of the brand or maker.
You must have known as outlined some steps to take to ease out of the situation if it is minor but unarguably, you will do your car stereo a lot of good if you maintain proper handling by following instructions as outlined in the products manual and quickly check on your expert should any problem arise above what you can handle.
We hope you found our common car stereo problem and solution article informative and helpful. If you have a comment or question, drop it in the box below, we will be glad to hear from you.