[SOLVED] Car Radio Turns On But No Sound

Written by: Miles Walker
Last Updated on:

The car radio turns on, but no sound is coming from the speakers. This is one of the most common issues car audio enthusiasts face.

It’s been reported in both aftermarket and factory (Volkswagen, Ford, Chevy, in particular) radios.

In most cases, it happens due to low voltage, software glitches, a faulty fuse, damaged/loose wiring, blown speaker(s), or a failing amplifier.

This article will discuss all these issues and their possible fixes.

Car Radio Turns On But No Sound: 7 Possible Reasons

1. Low Voltage in the Power wire

1. Low Voltage in the Power wire

First, we’ll check the power wire – especially if an aftermarket amplifier is installed.

The amplifier gets an audio signal from the head unit and amplifies it before sending it to the speakers/subwoofer.

It means that if the amp is not getting any power, it will not be able to send output signals to the speakers, and you will not get any sound.

You’ll need a digital multimeter to test whether the amp is getting enough power.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Set the multimeter to ‘DC Voltage’ mode.
  •  Connect its positive probe to the +12V terminal and the negative probe to the ground terminal of the amplifier.
  •  Turn on the car radio and check the reading on the multimeter.

Although the reading should be close to the 12V, you’re good to go as long as it’s more than 10V.

On the other hand, a low voltage reading (close to 0, for example) means there’s some issue with the power wire. Either it’s damaged, the in-line fuse is blown, or the connection to the battery terminal is loose.

2. Remote Turn-on Wire not working

2. Remote Turn-on Wire not working

If the voltage reading for the power wire is in the normal range, you should next check the remote turn-on wire.

This wire sends a 12V signal to an amplifier and triggers it to turn on or off. If there’s any fault in that wire, the amp will remain off 24×7, and you’ll get no sound.

To check the voltage in a remote turn-on lead:

  • Set the multimeter to DC voltage mode.
  •  Connect its positive wire to the remote terminal and the negative wire to the ground terminal of the amplifier.
  •  Turn on the car radio and check the reading on the multimeter.

If you get a 12V-14V reading, the remote wire works fine. Otherwise, you’ll have to check its connection to the head unit or replace it if it’s broken.

3. Blown Fuse

blown inline fuse

Now that we have tested our power and remote turn-on connections, it’s time to check the fuses.

A car audio system comes with various fuses designed to protect the circuit. If any of these fuses are blown, the circuit will become open, and you’ll not get any sound.

The radio is turning on, which means the radio fuse is working. So the next step is checking the in-line and amp fuse(s).

The easiest way to check these fuses is to pull them out individually and visually inspect them. If their internal metal strip is burnt or melted, it indicates that the fuse is blown.

If you can’t confirm anything with a visual inspection, it’s better to use a multimeter.

To check any fuse with a multimeter:

  • Set it to ‘continuity’ mode
  •  Connect its probes to two ends of the fuse.

If you hear a beep, the fuse is working. Otherwise, it’s blown and should be replaced with a fuse of the same amperage.

4. Radio Mute Settings

Radio Mute Settings

Many vehicles come with a mute button that allows you to turn off the music with a single press.

While this button can become convenient in different situations (phone calls, for example), many people forget to unmute the radio and think something is wrong with the audio system.

Therefore, locate the mute button in your car stereo, and play with it to see if anything changes.

You should also check your volume settings and confirm they’re not at level 0.

5. Wiring Issues

5. Wiring Issues

At this point, you’ve checked your power wire, remote turn-on wire, and fuses. And they’re all working fine.

This leaves us with the head unit and speaker wires.

After that, we’ll check the RCA cables. These cables carry the audio signal from the car radio to the amplifier. At first, we’ll have to inspect these wires physically. Look out for any damage and tear. Test their voltage through a multimeter if they look fine from the outside.

To do that, set the multimeter in continuity mode, connect the positive multimeter wire to the outside of the RCA connector, and the negative lead to its center pin. If the RCA cable is working, then you’ll hear a beep.

Otherwise, replace that RCA cable because it’s damaged.

Similarly, check the speaker wires with a multimeter. Most car audio setups will have four speakers, meaning you must check all eight wires.

For each speaker, you’ll have to connect the multimeter’s positive lead to the positive terminal and the negative lead to the negative terminal.

Also, ensure that these wires and the vehicle body do not touch each other.

6. Software Glitches

Sometimes the car radio can act up due to software glitches, which can be solved by resetting the radio to upgrading the firmware version.

You can update a car radio with a USB drive or OTA updates (particularly in newer models).

7. Blown Speaker

Blown Speaker

The last step is to check whether the speaker is blown or not.

To confirm that, we’ll again use a multimeter.

Set the multimeter to ‘resistance’ mode. 

Connect the red multimeter probe to the positive speaker terminal and the black probe to the negative terminal.

You should get a reading between 2-8 Ohms.

If it’s high than that range, your speaker is blown and should be replaced.

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Final Words

So these are the methods you can follow if your car stereo turns on, but there’s no sound from the speakers.

Suppose you’ve applied all those steps and still get no sound. In that case, try another compatible amplifier in your car’s audio system.

That’s because there’s a high probability that your amplifier is failing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is There No Sound Coming From My Car Speakers?

In most cases, it happens due to the amplifier’s protect mode, the radio’s anti-theft mode, damaged wiring, blown fuse(s), no power to the amp, etc.

Is There A Fuse For The Car Radio?

Yes, car radios have a dedicated fuse, which you can find in the fuse boxes under the dashboard or in the engine compartment.

How Do I Know If My Fuse Is Blown?

You can visually inspect any fuse to see if its internal metal strip is melted or burnt. If it is, the fuse is blown. The other method you can try is using a multimeter.

How Do I Reset My Ford Audio System?

To reset the ford audio system, turn on the ignition and locate the power button. Then, press and hold that button for roughly 10-15 seconds. This will reset the system. Lastly, turn off the ignition.

How To Unmute Pioneer Car Stereo?

While the process of unmuting a Pioneer car stereo may vary slightly depending on the specific model, it usually goes like this:
Go to Settings > Audio > Mute Level and set it to off. This will do the job. If you have a button-based single-din stereo, look out for the mute button and press it once.

I'm Miles Walker and I'm the founder of autoaudiolab.com I've been in the car audio industry for over 20 years and have a wealth of knowledge to offer on all things related to car audio. I graduated from UC Berkeley with an electrical engineering degree, so you can rely on me for top-notch expertise and advice when it comes to upgrading your sound system.

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