Why Did My Car Radio Stop Working, Car Radio Not Turning On?

If you are used to driving with your music playing, things will get difficult when your radio stops to work. Radio entertainment might not be as necessary as such, but it is good for safety and just keeping the mood as you travel. It is also great for learning what is going around you.

Is your car radio not working? There are so many reasons why your radio is not working. If you recently upgraded your radio audio system, then the problem might be with the head unit, the speakers or the fuses. For you to get these reasons in details, we are going to discuss each of them in details.

How does a car radio work?

The operation of a radio starts from the power supply and ends in the output of sound by the speakers. A radio pulls power from the alternator which is supplied by the battery. A wiring system is established to connect the alternator to the radio and the radio to the speakers. The radio will also receive signals from the antenna.

Radios also require fuses to get protected from power surges or power spikes. Some aftermarket radios will also work hand in hand with amplifiers and other components. Such systems will require more complex installation techniques.

With a failure of these components, it means the radio signal output will also be affected. That is why the radio failing to work might not be directly due to the radio but also the components the radio is wired with.  With this in mind, let’s now look at some reasons why radios fail to work.


Reasons why your car radio is not working

1- Protection mode

Did you upgrade your car audio system? Your radio may not be working because the protection mode has been turned on. Some aftermarket systems come with a special security feature that protects the system from theft. It works in such a way that when there is a power interruption, the head unit by default goes off and is rendered useless.

Check whether your upgraded system has this feature. If your car system happens to have it, then you may need to perform a special procedure for you to get it back to work. The procedure is most likely to be found in the manufacturer’s manual. If you cannot access it, then you may need to contact the manufacturers for guidance.

2. No power supply

Another reason why your car radio is not working is because it does not receive any power supply. There are so many reasons why this is so, here are some common ones;

3. Wire connection

Wiring can be challenging especially for an upgraded system. A loose wire somewhere will mean that the radio will not be working at all. You will need to check for this connection when your radio is dead. The best way to identify if the wiring has problems is using a voltage meter. Start with testing the ground wire (black), accessory wire (red) and constant (yellow).

If the wiring is good, then the voltmeter should read 12 volts or the voltage equal to your source. If you realize that there are disparities, it will be good to check with your car’s wiring diagram.

Check for loose connection points or points that have been cut or peeled off. Ground wires can be disturbing if they are not correctly grounded. Ensure that they are attached to metallic frames of your car’s body.

4. Blown fuses

This is may be the problem with your radio if it does not turn on completely. The main reason why it is not working is that these blown fuses do not let the power to the radio, amps or the speakers. You will need to locate the blown fuses by using a voltmeter or consult a mechanic or car audio system diagnosis professional.

Some of the fuses to look for are the amp fuses and radio fuses on the car’s fuse block. To find whether a fuse works or is blown, connect the multimeter across the fuse. Then check for any readings.

If the meter picks any reading then the fuse works. But if it does not read then the fuse is blown. If you are lucky to identify it by yourself, you can replace the blown fuses with new ones.

5. Power protection mode

If your radio works via an external amplifier and has stopped working, the amplifier most probably has gone to power protection mode.  The amp will go off if the alternator is producing too much power than what the amplifier can handle. That is why the radio signal does not go through to the speakers.

The reverse also might be happening, if your battery is low, the alternator will definitely supply low and fluctuating power which will activate the amplifier’s protection mode. Another reason why an amp will go to protection mode is due to a short. If you have a wire that is shorting the system, then that might be the cause of your car radio not working.

6. Alternator wine

Sometimes you might hear winning white noise that come and disappear when you turn your radio on especially when the engine is running. This is the alternator winning that is normally caused by a bad ground to the head unit or the speakers.

To solve this problem, you will be required to identify the ground wires and locate a better position to connect them. The best places to do so is on your car’s frame or the body of the car.

7. Damaged antenna

This is a common problem if the CD player works well, but the radio itself does not work. The problem might be with the antenna wire. A broken antenna will not receive signals, and therefore you will only be hearing white noise. Check the antenna wire, it might be disconnected and might need a little soldering or crimping.

The tuner also might be having a problem. Try troubleshooting it, if the tuner is damaged you might need to replace the whole head unit.

8. Speakers wires and the speakers 

You might be digging too dip and forgetting the speakers. The reason why you might not be hearing anything is because the speakers are disconnected. Running a check on the wires will be necessary to confirm that the speakers are just alright.

The speakers themselves might also be blown. The speakers might have blown and that is why you have a poor sound out of them, or the system is not working completely. You may need to check the condition of the speakers as well.

9. Faulty head unit

You may be running on an old head unit, and you may need to replace it. The wires and the technology itself might be outdated, and it might need a new replacement. Some new head units also might be faulty.

Many people complain of ordering new head units, and they arrive when faulty already. In this case, you might be careful with your seller’s refund policy before doing any order.

10. Head unit settings

It might look silly, but this might be the cause why your radio is not working. Settings like volume level, fade, balance and pan control knobs might not be well set and therefore affecting the radio signal coming out of the speakers.

Before doing any deep diagnosis, these are the areas to begin with. Ensure that they are on their default points.

Related article: How to Fix a Blown Amp

Wrap Up

There you have it on why your car radio may not be working. The reason why your radio fails to work may be a very simple one and at times a very complex one. Before taking any action that may be costly, it is recommended to try diagnosing the problem before deciding to venture into and expensive remedy.

It is always advisable to follow the right steps when diagnosing your car audio system. If need be, you should consult a professional for more guidance and advice. They might have a clear recommendation on your car radio not working. Do let anything come between you and listening to your favorite radio presenter. Make sure everything is sorted out.

Adrienne Owens

Here at Car Speaker Land we have only one goal: to bring you the best speakers around. Well, actually we have two goals: we also want to make sure that you’re able to get things going without having to pay the steep fees which are often charged for even the most basic procedures in auto shops.

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