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Car Stereo Troubleshooting – Symptoms, Problems & Solution

James Benchman
Last Updated on
by James Benchman

There’s nothing worse than preparing for a road trip or long drive, and your car speakers start acting up. Some of these technical malfunctions are bound to happen after some wear and tear, or after listening to music too loudly for a long period of time.

Most factory speakers can only withstand so much. It’s best to know not only what causes these symptoms, but how to fix them.

There are common problems that happen in a car’s speaker system that isn’t so worrisome, and actually quite easily fixed without the need of a professional. Knowing what to look for before irreparable damage will help to rectify these technical issues.

Some of the most common malfunctions of a car stereo and how to fix them are useful to know if you ever find your speakers aren’t working as well as they should be.

Car Stereo Troubleshooting – Problems & Solution

1. Stereo Has Sound But No Bass

A fundamental part of the music listening experience is being able to hear every part of it — one of those parts that are the easiest to catch if missing is the bass. If the bass in your speaker suddenly disappears, don’t worry, it will come back if you know what to do.

So ., how does this malfunction happen?

Generally, when factory speakers are being replaced or upgraded, and new speakers are installed, they can lose some critical aspects of their sound. To understand this crucial error in your speakers, you’ll need to know how the bass sound in the speakers actually functions.

For bass to be produced through your speakers, air needs to be pushed out of them at the same time. If one speaker pushes air while another pulls air, then the bass sound in the speakers will virtually disappear because the speakers themselves are out of polarity. This leaves you without the bass drop you so desperately need in your life.

The other symptom could be that you are using aftermarket speakers rather than factory speakers. Because they are heavier and harder, they actually take away a lot of the bass sound in the speakers while amplifying others. If you’re attached to the bass sound, then aftermarket speakers are probably not what you should install in your car.

However, there is an easy fix to this problem.

Make sure that the speakers are connected to the right wire. Like batteries, the + and – should line up with the corresponding side. You can also add an amplifier, which will improve the sound of the bass as well as the overall sound of your speakers.

2. My Car Radio Stopped Working Suddenly

While some of us survive on our phone’s streaming capabilities, there are still those of us out there that make use of our car radios. Another common malfunction that may happen with car speakers is the disappearance of this vital news and music source.

If you find that the radio is no longer working in your car, the cause is most likely a disconnection from the power source or where the current passes through. Alternatively, there could be a blown fuse in the system or a problem with the power or ground connector.

There are different effects on your car’s radio based on what is causing the problem. For example, if the radio won’t turn on at all, then the symptom is probably a blown a fuse or a wiring issue. If the radio turns off sporadically, then there is most certainly an issue with the ground connection.

If both the display and radio turn on and off together, then the head unit is likely not getting enough power supplied to it. If the radio turns off at moments of bumps or when taking a corner in your car, then a connector is loose.

If you want to check if a fuse is blown, which will be the most significant damage to your radio, then you will have to check to see if a reading is recorded. If there is no reading recorded, the fuse is blown. If there is a reading recorded, then there is another error affecting your radio.

3. What’s that Noise? The Unwanted Audio Intruder

This a fairly common malfunction that we see in car speakers regularly, and one of the earliest signs that something is wrong with them. Not to mention it’s aggravating to hear an unwanted sound affecting your music and not being able to stop it.

However, there are ways to fix this problem without having to get a brand-new system.

Unwanted noise is also one of the most difficult to diagnose as there are multiple issues within the system that could be causing it. Depending on what sound your speaker is emanating, you can find a way to solve this problem and get your speakers back to running properly.

If there is a whining sound coming from your speakers, then it’s probably because the amplifier or head unit’s ground were not correctly chosen. A bad connection can also cause a whine.

If you hear a popping noise coming from your speaker, then there is most likely another technical issue in another part of your car that’s causing a height in voltage, thus the popping sound. A popping sounds could also mean that the speaker is either too old, or has a bad input or connection.

4. Car Stereo Has Power But No Sound from Speakers

If the sound suddenly cuts off in your speakers, then there are a couple of factors that could be at work.

A speaker wire could be loose, or the amplifier being used could be overheated from overuse. Airflow is essential to keeping the amplifier cool and functioning.

5. An Overheated Stereo

An amplifier isn’t the only part of the sound system that can become overheated. The stereo can also overheat.

Most times , this is caused by incorrect wiring. If the stereo becomes too hot, it can be incredibly dangerous. This constitutes checking the entire sound system for wiring flaws, or perhaps replacing the whole system. Using a high-quality RCA Cable for audio connections could also help.

We hope these ideas give you some areas to look into when you are having issues. Problems can be frustrating, but the above are some of the most common issues and we hope that you get towards resolution by checking out these areas first in your troubleshooting.

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About James Benchman
James Benchman
James is an Automotive Mechanic with over 20 years experience and 300+ car repairs. He is an expert with cars and has worked with different models from the biggest brands. James is a Mechanic , Husband , Father of 3 , and head of content at Caraudiologic. Learn more about us
  1. the speakers work because i connected my phone and there is sound, the car stereo goes on but no sound. could it still be a fuse?

    1. Hi Donna, sorry about the issue you’re having. Are you saying that your phone can produce sound through your system, but your stereo can’t? I’m assuming your phone is connecting THROUGH you stereo, so that’s strange. It sounds like I would look at your inputs/outputs and stereo settings to make sure it isn’t something straightforward like that.

  2. ok here is my problem. 06 gmc sierra 2500 hd crew cab everything brand new CT sounds speakers and amp kenwood dmx905s HU and now a DMX906S Head unit since april 2019. sometimes when im driving the sound will just stop no matter if its bluetooth or radio. if i turn car on then off stereo works again.

    Sometimes upon start up there will be no sound, subs only or mids only. anytime this happens i can hook up my tone generator to the amps and there is sound and sometimes when there is no sound i can say hey google and use google functions from my phone through the speakers. other times not even google will work, all this happens randomly. I installed all new wiring and speakers and amps bypassing all factory wiring. used rubber grommets going through doors ect.

    Had local Stereo King install radio and tune amps in April. had these problems and others with the original 905 in the first week they warrantied it and replaced it with the same still had problems swapped RCA cables thinking that could possibly be the issue issue still continues. Stereo King warrantied the 905 last month and upgraded to the 906 and still the same problems the technicians are at a loss for possible cause anyone have any other ideas?

  3. Toyota Corolla 2010. About 3 months ago, manufacturer’s radio stopped working. Had a new Pioneer professionally installed. 3 weeks ago, no sound was coming out this new one. The digital information would show “amp error” and blinking. I took car back and another new Pioneer radio was installed. The installer said he checked speakers and couldn’t see anything wrong. Now, yesterday, the same thing has happened with the replaced radio. I’m bad my wits end. Please! Any suggestions?

  4. Okay so the problem I’m having is I installed a aftermarket stereo hooked it up with the harness it worked for about a week than all of sudden I lost sound I hook my factory back In i have sound it’s on a 99 saturn sc2

  5. Honda 2002 Cl
    I just put in a aftermarket JVC kenwood headunit and the sound works only on fm/am station but when I ditch source to AUX or USB there’s yes sound Whatsoever! Help pls!

  6. Pioneer radio been in the car almost a year and speakers and replaced the speakers and rewired the speakers and I only have sound out of the front two speaker no sound from the rear I did hook one rear speaker to the front one and it worked anybody please help or any comments thanks in advance 01 Saturn sw2

    1. Hi John, I want to make sure I understand the scenario, so I have some questions. Did the rear speakers work before in this setup and they stopped working all of a sudden? Since you swapped a rear speaker to the front, that confirms that the speaker is good. But, that still leaves us with suspecting at least two things; 1) maybe the cable run from the Pioneer radio to the back of your Saturn is compromised somehow. Or two, something is going on with your rear channel output out of your Pioneer to the rears. Double-check all physical connections of the Pioneer’s amp section going to the rears. One simple test could also be to swap out the amp section of which speakers they’re driving (swap front to rears and back). This should quickly tell you where the problem is.

  7. Hi I have an 82 bronco that due to a inexperienced youngin attack with snips I had to hardwire my stereo I know my connections are all sautered and only have that one mid line connection, everything turns on all the modes work movies play connects to my phone everything except I have no sound got a cheap power acoustik tl-623b I do not have the pink brake wire or the key1/key2 wires hooked to anything just shrinkwrapped the ends I just can’t figure out whatI’m missing got a long drive in 2 days I really need my tunes …going insane here. Thanks

    1. Sorry to hear about the issue, Cody. Really tough to troubleshoot remotely, of course. I’d like to hear more about what the snip incident was to see if that gives a clue. You say everything works, but no sound. So, it sounds like maybe a short somewhere or maybe something happened to the amp. I would test each of the connections individually to start narrowing down where to be looking and what isn’t doing its job.

  8. Hi I have a Ford Fiesta 2017 and all of a sudden the stereo won’t produce any sound it all switches on but there’s no sound on the radio or when I connect my phone does anyone have any idea what the problem might be

    1. Hey Loretta, did you get it resolved? Let us know if still an issue and what troubleshooting steps you took.

  9. 2002 Nissan Pathfinder- day 1) played music very loudly to see how loud it could go. day 2) could not get any sound out of stereo at first, followed by intermittent sound at a certain volume. Then when volume was one dial up above 0 it would play very loudly. Day 3) did not work at all on way to work, but on way home it worked again perfectly. Day 4) did not work at all on way to work, on way home it worked until I turned volume back down then could not get any sound when I turned it back up. Any ideas?

    1. Hey Dave, always hard to troubleshoot remotely, but the detailed symptoms you gave makes it sound to me like you blew a fuse when playing it loud. But, then if it’s starting to play again later, especially later in the day when the temps are probably warmer, it sounds like maybe some wiring or even some circuitry got a bit damaged. That’s why when it’s cold in the mornings (assuming that’s when you’re going to work?), it doesn’t work. Later in the day, when it’s warmed up, connections are secure again and it works … or works somewhat. I would check all of your connections, the state of your cabling and all wires, and then look at your electronics/amp and smell them to see if you smell anything funny, like fried components/burnt smell/stuff that doesn’t smell normal. If so, then some replacement of items will be necessary.

  10. Problem started when I received a cellphone call through JBL 9 speaker radio in my 2008 Rav4. Call was extremely loud and volume was finally lowered on the steering wheel controls. After that, I disconnected bluetooth on my phone whenever I am in the car. However, now all of a sudden extremely loud static noise blasts out of the radio and will only stop when I turn the car off. It is so loud I am afraid I will have an accident if it happens when I am driving. This is intermittent. Sometimes the radio will work fine. But the loud static will suddenly start even when the radio is turned off. Where do I start to diagnose this?

    1. Sorry to hear about the problem, Carol. Sounds like a tricky thing to diagnose remotely, especially since it’s intermittent. I would recommend heading to a local shop to get it thoroughly checked out to see what is wrong. Good luck.

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