Learning how to improve AM radio reception in your car is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth ride in the vehicle. While many of us have foregone our radios in favor of phones these days, it never hurts to make sure that you’ve got everything you need in a single package.
Getting the reception you need to enjoy clear audio from the airwaves isn’t as hard as you’d think, it just requires a little bit of technical know-how and some simple tools.
There are a ton of different products on the market which promise to be a surefire way answer to how to get better radio reception in your car.
We’re definitely not against them, but it’s a good idea to make sure that everything you have is firing correctly first.
There are a few different culprits for both interference and bad reception within your vehicle:
Most of these problems are easily fixed, and you should check them out before you try to buy anything to boost your reception.
Make sure that your antenna is both extended and that it doesn’t have any exterior damage. If that’s the case, then you’re probably going to be looking at a damaged receiving antenna, which is a simple fix.
If it all looks good then you’ll have to check the wiring. As long as the connections look good and they’re not running too close to other wires you’ll be fine.
If things look amiss, then you’ll need to rewire the antenna. These parts are usually cheap so you’ll probably want to pick up another one if there’s anything wrong from the base up, and most people can handle the job at home.
Pretty much all electronics are going to interfere with the reception of your radio on some level. While your cell phone isn’t likely to be the culprit, check the devices in your vehicle one-by-one to see if the interference is coming from within.
We haven’t seen this happen too often, but since pretty much all electric devices release EM radiation, it’s a definite possibility.
This type of interference is pretty specific to the AM portion of your radio and is one of the big reasons why there was such a strong push to FM in the middle of the 1900s. If you’re still experiencing a lot of static on the FM band of the radio then it’s not a likely culprit.
If you’re not running an HD deck, then you’re missing out. Of course, you might not quite be ready to upgrade just yet so there’s one other thing you can try before you have to spend any money.
Switch over to mono from stereo settings, this will sometimes increase reception by picking up a stronger portion of the signal.
Unfortunately, if you live in a deep valley or are in another situation where you’re not able to get a clear line-of-sight to your radio station you may just be out of luck.
Terrain does a remarkably good job at blocking both AM and FM radio waves, and the former in particular can get completely blocked despite small distances between you and the source of the signal.
Sometimes everything is just going to be out of your hands. This is particularly the case in areas where there’s a large amount of strong radio broadcasts. While it’s great if you’re listening to those channels, for those who are trying to pick up weaker bands things can get pretty bad pretty quickly.
In some cases, you can even end up with a radio station completely overpowering another one although this is pretty rare in the wild. As a theoretical possibility it’s definitely possible, however.
Of course, there’s always the event that none of this will work out for you. If you can’t get your reception to the level you want, then you may have to spend some money.
If none of the above get you to where you need to be, then you’re going to have to spend some money to improve your equipment.
There are a lot of gimmicks out there which purport to be the perfect solution to how to get better radio reception in your car.
There are really only two tried and true ways to ensure that you’re able to get things going, however.
Signal boosters are relatively simple devices. Keep in mind that if the station is the problem, you’re still not going to be out of the waters of bad reception and static.
Signal boosters work like a repeater. As long as your antenna catches the signal you’re looking for, you’ll be able to repeat and amplify it in order to get better reception. They’re usually fairly cheap and there are a lot of models on the market, so picking one out isn’t all that hard.
They tend to get harsher reviews than many electronics because people rarely have the rest of their equipment in order before picking one up. Rather than the fault of the electronics, it’s usually operator error that gets people.
If you really want to make sure you don’t miss your talk radio, then you’ll probably want to invest in a better head unit. Most of the OEM models skimp on the radio, particularly in low to mid-cost vehicles, at least as far as reception is concerned.
That’s mainly due to radio being used less and less, which means that most people are more concerned with other features.
Pretty much any head unit from a reputable company will be just fine.
If you’re not quite ready to invest your money in picking up either of the above improvements, there’s on easy solution that virtually guarantees good reception: use your phone.
There are free apps available for both Android and iOS which will let you use your phone as an intermediary. From there, you can either use Bluetooth or an auxiliary cord to connect to your head unit, depending on how advanced it is.
At the end of the day, it’s a pretty simple matter to make sure you’ll be able to get what you need. Whether you want to know how to improve AM radio reception in your car or just want to know how to improve car radio reception in general we hope that we’ve served you the info you need.
Did we miss any of your favorite tricks? Want to know where we’re headed next? Leave us a comment below.
In this article, we deal with a topic that is a common concern among users of car stereos. The amp turns on, but no sound is heard, even on increasing the volume. You may think that how to fix a blown amp is a highly technical solution which you won’t be able to do unless you are an electronics expert. Let us begin with this disclaimer. You cannot fix a blown amp unless you have some training in electronics. However, is your amp blown? Let me share a little anecdote with you.
My father was a highly-skilled electrical design engineer. He always used to fix broken appliances at home. Growing up with him, I also became a handyman of sorts. One day, we were looking at a faulty electric iron. On opening it, we could not detect a fault. After a lot of investigation, we discovered that there was just a loose connection in the mains plug. We needn’t have opened the iron in the first place – just reconnecting the cable in the plug using a screwdriver would have sufficed!
Keeping in mind the above incident, we can say that the same principle applies to several other electric and electronic appliances including amplifiers. You just need to follow some simple steps which we have outlined in this article.
Here is a list of items that you will need to undertake to troubleshoot for an amp not getting power or if the amp has power but no sound:
These are a few of the necessary tools that you are likely to use for fixing an amp not getting power. However, the list is not exhaustive, and you may find some additional tools that come in handy while performing your troubleshooting operations. It is a good idea to locate a suitable box in which to store all these items. You can get some nifty toolboxes from a hardware store, or you can shop for toolboxes online.
We have tried to generalize the steps for troubleshooting for fixing a blown amp. However, you will sometimes come across something unique that we have not described here. In such a case, just follow the general approach that we have outlined and use your instincts.
You also need to exercise good judgment to decide whether a job is within your capabilities or not. You may do better to get professional help. But like we said earlier, it could just be an underlying problem which you can fix yourself. So, here are the necessary steps that you need to follow:
A common occurrence is a loose connection to the plugs. Check all the input and output jacks. Check the main power supply and if it has a plug, check if the connection is OK.
Some wires run from the rear of your amplifier to your speakers. Ensure that there is no loose connection. Check cables for continuity through your multimeter.
Pro Tip: Disconnect all other audio sources leaving only the internal receiver connected. Now run the amp to find out if it has power or good sound.
Your amp will have one or more cartridge fuse. A cartridge fuse is a tiny glass tube with two metallic caps on either end of it. These caps are connected internally by a thin metallic filament.
If a fuse has blown, it will mean that the metallic filament has burnt out and you may or may not see carbon accumulation or oxide powder on the inside of the glass. You can remove the fuse and check it for continuity with your multimeter. Always replace the fuse with the same rating as the original one. We express fuse rating in milliamps (ma).
If your amplifier detects that there is something wrong with the circuitry, it may go into “protect mode” which you can observe by seeing the light that glows indicating protect mode. Protect mode is an inbuilt safety feature of your amp to avoid damage to internal components.
If your amplifier goes into protect mode, try disconnecting the speakers. If the protect mode light disappears once you do this, you can conclude that there is something wrong with the speakers. Check the speaker connections and if all seems OK, then try changing the speakers and rechecking the amp.
The amplifier may also go into protect mode if the grounding is insufficient, possibly due to faulty RCA cables. Just replace the existing RCA cables with good ones, and if the protect mode light goes out, you know that the problem lies in faulty RCA cables.
If all else fails, and your amp has power but no sound, unscrew the covers to expose the printed circuit board (PCB). Examine all the components carefully. If you notice a transistor, capacitor or resistor that seems to have burnt out, replace it and check the amplifier.
Check all solder points by gently pulling the components. If you notice some looseness, then melt the joint with your soldering iron, adding a touch of fresh solder and perhaps a bit of flux to re-establish the connection.
You can check each resistor with your multimeter. Set your multimeter to ‘resistance' or ‘ohms.' Now, power the amplifier and place the probes of your multimeter on either side of the resistor. The reading on your multimeter should show the corresponding measurement in ohms for the rating of the resistor within a 5% variation. If not, then the resistor needs to be replaced.
Pro Tip: If you are soldering components to the printed circuit board, ensure that your joints have a clean, shiny finish. If the surface is dull, you may have done a "dry solder" which can result in poor connectivity.
The output transformer is the transformer that supplies electrical energy to the speaker. Disconnect the output wires of the transformer and run the amplifier. Using your multimeter set to ‘DC volts,' measure the voltage that is coming out from the output wires.
If there is no voltage, the transformer has burnt, and you need to replace it. If there is an abnormally high voltage as compared to the required voltage specified in the manual, you have an open, leaking transformer, and you still have to change it.
Here is a unique tip which you will rarely come across. When you first open the cover of your amp, take photographs. Take close-ups of any parts that seem to be defective or burnt. Pay particular attention to the quality of your images and ensure that they are clear with the specifications of the components as legible as possible, including the amp’s model number, serial number, brand and so on.
Photographing your amp’s internals serves two purposes. Firstly, if you are going to dismantle any parts, it will help you re-assemble the amp later. Secondly, if you find that you are unable to fix it, you can send your photographs to an expert who will be able to help you out, especially if you have clear images with all the necessary details visible.
These are the necessary steps that you need to follow for troubleshooting if your amp has power but no sound or if your amp is not getting power at all. You may feel overwhelmed by some of the steps described here. However, do be advised that you only need to do as much as you feel comfortable in doing.
But, once you get into the heart of the matter and you get more and more involved in the job, you will see that with a little practice, you can do much more than you ever imagined yourself doing.
Some of the steps described here are a bit technical, and you may need to take the help of someone who has a bit more experience in these matters. However, as the adage goes, "Practice makes perfect." So, the more you do, the more confident you will become, and you will get better and better at how to fix a blown amp.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. Please don't hesitate to get back to us with your valuable feedback, comments, and questions and we will be happy to respond.
We are in a digital world; people no longer use vinyl and CDs to store music. Most of the music is nowadays stored digitally. Most of the storage devices are nowadays hard drives like flash drives, phone drives, SD cards, Tablet drives and so on.
So how are these digital files going to be played using a car stereo without affecting the quality? Keep reading as we are going to address in details how to play music through USB in a car. You can as well watch this video on how to play music with USB in a car for more information.
We all love to have a great stereo in our car. You don’t have to be an audiophile to appreciate good music and high-quality sound from a decent car stereo. However, a typical technical problem occurs which can be quite annoying, and that is that you sometimes get engine noise in speakers. Here, we will first discuss the reason why this happens, and then we will see how to get rid of engine noise in your car stereo.
Although you may think that you have to be an electronic or sound engineer to deal with engine noise through speakers, you will be surprised that you don’t need to use complicated technology and you can solve this problem yourself. Let’s try to understand why engine noise in speakers occurs in the first place.
Bass is the key element of any music system. When a music audiophile boards your car, the way he is going to rate your audio system will be based on the way the bass kicks. A flat system will lack bass but will be rich with midrange sounds.
There are very many ways that you can use to make your stereo sound top notch and let others respect you while you are driving. Here are some ways on how to increase bass in a car.
It is heartbreaking to drive while listening to your favorite music and after some time you realize that your speakers are dead or no longer sound properly. There are so many causes that can be related to speaker failures. All these causes can generally be classified into mechanical and thermal or electrical failures.
In a nutshell, mechanical failures occur when the cone is made to move further than its original designed position. This is normally due to a high power supply which results in high vibrations. On the other end, thermal failures are caused by a high power supply which overworks the speaker. It gets overheated, and eventually, the voice coil components burn or melt down.
Concurrently, there are other causes that might get speakers blown for instance the age of the speakers. Why do speakers blow? There are several answers to this question. Speakers that were made using inferior materials are likely to blow out as they age.
For you to deeply understand why speakers blow or how to avoid blowing speakers, we will need to dig a little deeper by finding more about speaker blow out.
Installing a car stereo system requires care and perfection. You will need to learn to wire and mix the components well and perhaps use the right tools. Installing a car stereo will depend on how you would want to customize your audio system. You may choose to install a new car system and change the components over time to your taste.
Getting to know how to install a car stereo system will also depend on how you will choose your car stereo components. You may need to carefully select them based on your car brand, mounting positions, and complexity. You are lucky though because with this guide on how to install a car stereo, we have provided easy and understandable steps to about the whole process.
Upgrading your car audio speakers needs a lot of research and careful study of the current sound system that is installed in the car. You will also need to consider if you are going to replace the stereo or the radio and the head unit.
Most preferably, it is always good to replace them step by step. It is advisable to start with the speakers, the head units, the car stereo system and then maybe add more power by adding an amplifier.
Getting back to the topic of the day which is how to upgrade car speakers, here is a simple way to achieve a successful upgrade of your car speakers. You can also find more information by watching this video on how to upgrade your rear speakers.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s a dedicated team of professionals out there that are ready and willing to take your money in order to run a couple of wires. That kind of sucks, doesn’t it? If you’re doing a basic replacement or upgrade instead of a full blown audio overhaul, then knowing how to install car speakers can save you a lot of time and money, so grab that snazzy new speaker and let’s get to work on slapping that bad boy in there.