8 Common Problems, Symptoms & Solutions Car Stereo


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“Every problem has a solution,” as rightly stated, even the problems arousing related to car stereos has a solution. So, if your car audio has been giving you some rare or even common problems, we have listed them out for you along with their solutions. There are three significant causes of car audio problem which includes:

  1. It is because of old age.
  2. Opposite components which cause low-quality sound
  3. Installing incorrectly

When all of the above-mentioned happens, many cars will have audio problems. Some problems are directly related to your speakers, woofers while others are radio-related problems.

Below are the 7 most common car stereo problems and how to tackle them and don’t worry, even a beginner can quickly solve the issues by reading the solutions provided.

1. Car stereo becomes too hot

The primary cause of car stereo becoming too hot can be because of the problem in the wiring. Some wires that are meant to be separated might have been combined, or speakers are incorrectly wired, which causes heat.

It is not a deep concern as electronic devices tend to get heated while in use. However, if it produces an excessive amount of heat, it is definitely a sign of malfunctioning. And this abnormality in heat can be dangerous also. It is vital to be aware that this heat will damage other parts of your car stereo and even cause a fire if left undiagnosed.


  • When turned on, the stereo becomes too hot to touch


  • You need to check all your installation
  • Check the wiring of the car audio system

Despite checking everything, you find no faults, yet your car stereo still runs hot, then it’s time for a full servicing system. Take this heating seriously as we don’t want any fire incident to occur, which can be life-threatening. Therefore, if you see the abnormality in heat, immediately see to it! If you are planning to upgrade the audio wiring we’d recommend you to switch to Oxygen-Free Copper wire – Voltive 16/m Speaker Plenuaker Wire.

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2. Car radio goes on and off.

Sometimes, your car radio might not work correctly, and you are confused about what to do. It might be that there might be a problem in any of the power sources or in other parts where the current flows.

Next, it can be because of improper wiring, which causes the car’s radio to fail. The wiring might be loose, so each time you start your vehicle, the jolts and bumps would move the wire and cause it to turn off. The radio of the car will be connected to the power source speakers through wires mostly found underneath the dashboard, and therefore if the problem lies in the wiring, the radio won’t work.

The symptoms you should be aware of includes:

  • The radio failing to turn on (the fuse is either blown or wiring problem)
  • The radio turns off at irregular intervals (the ground connection or power must be a problem)
  • The display of the car radio goes off and on (the head unit might be lacking in power)
  • Radio goes off when there are corners, jolts, or bumps (the connector at the back unit is unstable and loose)


Firstly, turn everything off so that you won’t be getting any shocks, then set your multimeter to ohms, touch the fuse’s metal caps with the multimeter’s testing leads, and check whether a reading is recorded or not. Note that if the multimeter shows a reading, the fuse is functioning correctly and is not blown. Otherwise, if there is none (reading), the fuse is blown, which is the cause of your radio problem.

Don’t forget to check for wiring problems and problems with ground connections. If your ground connection is rusted or loose, then that is your cause. You need to fix it for your radio to function properly again.

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3. Newly installed head unit has no power.

A head unit requires a minimum of 12V, so if you find out that the power cuts out in the recently installed head unit, receiving less emphasis might be the cause.

Another reason for the head unit problem can be because your amplifier has switched to protection mode. And it gets changed to protection mode because the alternator’s power is excessive for the amplifier that it needs to protect itself. Thus gets switched to protection mode. The next is the battery cannot provide the audio system with constant voltage, so the problem lies in your battery.

         The most known symptom is that your head unit will cut out and will come back after a while, on its own


  • Make use of a voltmeter to check if the power wire is regularly sending 12V to the head unit.

First, use a voltmeter and see if the power wire is regularly sending 12V to the head unit like it’s supposed to, and if you find out that the wire is fulfilling its duty, then the problem lies with your head unit. On the other hand, if the wire is not sending 12V, you can change the wire.

Also, keep in mind that some fuse that is blown needs to be changed and replaced; check if your battery water needs a refill.

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4. No bass from Car speakers

This sounds so terrifying, you purchased the speakers for bass, and now suddenly there’s no bass from car speakers? 

This is actually a car stereo problem, which frequently occurs when the factory speakers upgrades or aftermarket speakers are being installed or repaired.

For bass to get produced, the speakers need to push air at the same time. And this problem arises when the speaker pushes but others pull the air. The bass vanishes in thin air. And this usually happens when the speakers are out of polarity.

Another reason for this problem can be that aftermarket speakers are heavier and way more challenging than factory speakers. These speakers definitely improve your car stereo quality, but sadly it gobbles up the bass of your factory speakers.


  • There is no bass despite you increasing the volume.


  • Wires should be appropriately connected to the head unit and the amplifier
  • installing an external amplifier

Firstly check if the speaker wires are correctly connected to the stereo amplifier and the head unit properly. Your speakers’ positive terminal should connect to the positive terminal of another component that includes the battery as well. And vice versa with the negative terminal.

Some people might think changing the head unit can solve this problem but get an external amplifier instead of this. Your car stereo needs something that puts in more watts, like an external amplifier.

5. Unwanted noises

The unwanted noises in the car audio system might be quite annoying and, at times, might turn out to be a spooky experience as well. Almost all drivers face this problem, and there are also many sources of unwanted, frustrating noises, which includes:

6. Speaker popping and crackling

This problem occurs due to old age, low input quality, or a terrible radio connection.

The symptom would be your speaker starts crackling when the engine turns on and where your car is in motion.

7. Alternator Whine

This noise occurs in almost everyone’s car. It is the most common car stereo noise. This happens when a ground for the head unit or speaker amplifier is poorly chosen. Also, inadequate charging systems and connections between the audio system components and the battery can result.

The symptom usually includes a noise that fluctuates with the RPM of your car’s alternator. The alternator whine tends to rise and fall with the engine’s speed frustratingly.

8. Accessory Pop

The accessories like windshield wipers, headlights, turn signal, and brakes draw a high current and cause a voltage spike, which then travels to the audio system. This noise connects with such an electrical event.

The symptom can be a sharp ‘pop’ sound when you switch on or press high current car accessories, and you might have mistaken it for something getting busted.

How do we get rid of all these unwanted noises from the car stereo?

For speaker popping and crackling, change the channel and check if the noise seizes. Otherwise, if a cracking happens all the time, no matter what channel the radio is on, it means that the radio broke and it has to be replaced with a new one or repaired if possible.

To discard the Alternator whine, find the component behind the production of this noise and reground it.

A clean, bare, and chassis metal is an ideal way of grounding. Check if the charging system is in its top condition. All connections such as battery posts, alternator connections, amplifiers, ground strap, alternator connections, and signal processors should be secure.

Lastly, to fix the noise problem due to accessory pops, add a small bi-polar capacitor between the accessory’s power wire, producing noise and its ground. The capacitor will absorb the power excessiveness, which prevents the transfer to the car’s audio system.

Car stereo common problems due to poor grounding

car audio common problems and solutions grounding

The poorly chosen ground points can cause a lot of non-equipment-related audio problems. Apart from the unwanted noise mentioned above, it can also cause the amplifier to clip.

The amplifier cuts in and out as a result of poor grounding. Once a car stereo turns up, the amplifier pulls more current, and if the system’s ground is lacking, the amplifier won’t be able to pull the required current. This leads to the clipping of the amplifier.

The symptoms of poor grounding are alternator whine, which is the audio system producing crappy sound.

The grounding on the car stereo.

As you can make it out, the ground that is usually the base or a foundation. So you know what happens if you mess with the foundation of anything, right? Likewise, grounding is really important.

If you install an extensive car audio system, it requires a bigger ground, and note that the grounds should be on the car’s chassis. This is a common mistake that people use the negative battery post as a ground for the car audio system. It is an incorrect place as the entire ripple from various items, including the alternator, travels through this exact point. Using this as a ground attracts all the noises from these items into the sound system, whereby this problem occurs.

The sound suddenly cuts off.

The amplifier gets overheated, or a speaker wire becomes loose, which suddenly cuts off the sound.

Amplifiers tend to generate an excessive amount of heat, mostly when you play music at high volume for a more extended period, and that’s absolutely okay. But for the amplifier to manage all this heat, it needs enough and stronger airflow.

The problem is verified by the sound from cars’ speakers suddenly getting cut off and coming back after a short .period

To solve the problem, make sure that there is enough airflow where the amplifier is mounted. The airflow is essential to keep the amplifier cooled down, which will prevent sudden sound cut-offs. Make sure to check If the wires are correctly connected and not lose as well.

As the stereo being the central part of your car’s system and also the only entertainment source, driving without a stereo is unimaginable for someone who loves music a lot. Therefore proper maintenance and equally required for its proper functioning.

To avoid the problem mentioned above, try to maintain your car stereo properly. Just make sure to check the wiring and do the proper installation to enjoy the best sound quality.

And when you know exactly what the problem is, you will be able to always take care of your car, and solve these common problems will be a breeze!

If you found this guide helpful, make sure to check out our other guides here.

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