Car Repair and Maintenance

Car Radio Turns On but No Sound Explained by Technician

Car radio turns on but no sound

There are some explanations for when car radio turns on but no sound. Depending on the cause, you may be able to fix the issue yourself or get a mechanic to do the job—diagnose and fix.

The primary purpose of owning a car is to move from one point to another. Accessories such as a radio only serve as an entertainment source as well as a way to keep up to date with happenings.

For some people, with the radio turned off, the driving experience won’t be the same. Thus, fixing the problem can get your car fully functional and back on track.

Car radio turns on but no sound

Car radio turns on but no sound: explanations and solution

When you face this problem, you’d notice that the car stereo produces no sound when you turn it on. It could be shorted or grounded wire, faulty head unit/fuses, defective speakers, or just an incomplete radio unit setup.

Consider the possible causes and fixes below:

1. General wiring problems

A car radio uses several wires in and out, with each serving a specific purpose to keep the stereo operating properly. As such, damaged wires will keep the radio from playing.

A car radio typically uses 3 different power wires running to the deck section — the red to the battery, the black to the ground, and yellow for constant power.

How to fix

You want to make sure the 3 wires helping the radio function are hooked up correctly. If hooking up the wires does not solve the problem, you need to look at the speaker wires.

2. Speaker wire damage

You should be concerned about the speaker wires—a set of positive and negative wires hooking up to each radio speaker. The speaker helps the car radio to play sound and supplies power to the door speakers.

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Some aftermarket wire harnesses are labeled on the side of the wire, usually written in small texts indicating what they belong to. However, stock wires are just color-coded, some still have labels though.

How to fix

You want to set up each wire and ensure they make a good connection. Depending on your vehicle’s make and model, the colors of the wire will differ. You want to verify the function of each wire before checking them.

You’d have to take down the dash panels apart. If you don’t have the tools or knowledge, let an experienced mechanic verify each wire and find the problem.

If you use an aftermarket amplifier for your door speakers, you want to be sure it is receiving power. The terminals could also be faulty, so check each of them and make sure the connection is good.

3. Faulty speaker unit

While the wires can the reason your car radio turns on but no sound is coming out, the speaker unit could also be the problem. Thus, if checking the wire does not solve the problem, it’s time to fix the head unit.

Sometimes, one speaker may not be playing sound and you would have confirmed that the wiring is the problem. The simple guess is that the speaker unit is faulty. At this point, a small battery test is needed.

How to fix

If your speaker passes the battery test, then it could be another problem. However, if it fails the battery test, you need a replacement speaker.

4. Blown fuse

The radio in your car can stop turning on due to a blown fuse. Of course, your car radio uses at least one fuse to protect the head unit from power surges or other electrical issues.

Most radios use fuses in the back, which can get blown. If the fuse blows, the radio loses power, preventing it from playing sound when turned on.

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A blown fuse can occur as a result of overheating the car stereo or shorting out. The radio has probably burned up and will not play sound since it no longer obtains power. Also, it can no longer produce signals to the speakers to produce sound.

How to fix

The solution is to check the fuses behind the radio and the car fuse panels. Use your automaker’s manual to find the fuse controlling the radio, and see if it is blown.

Replace any blown fuses and see if the radio kicks on and produces sound. If you see any visible gap in the wire or a dark or metallic smear inside the glass, you have a blown fuse is blown that needs to be replaced.

5. Radio not set up properly

Perhaps, you did not set up the radio properly. It can be a little technical to install a car radio, and if no sound comes on, contact a professional.

A car radio uses different settings, including volume, fader, frequencies, and listening position. Thus, it is possible that you disabled the sound from your speakers.

How to fix

Start by making sure that the frequencies are playing. Double check the fader setup and disable it. Fader settings can be adjusted to play only through the front or rear speakers, this can happen, especially where the front is on by default.

After verifying the settings, make sure the volume is up and your car radio is not set to mute. Otherwise, the head unit may have burned out and is faulty.

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Aftermarket amplifiers in your car need to be checked and tested to ensure that they function properly.

6. Malfunctioning antenna or tuner

Car radio turning on but no sound could be an antenna or tuner problem. Earlier, cars featured a long antenna mounted on a fender or around the exterior, exposing them to getting knocked off while washing the car. They sometimes even vanished without explanation.

If a faulty antenna is a reason your radio is turned on but not playing sound, other parts of the system such as the CD player will work. You will also experience that other components work if the radio tuner is no longer working.

How to fix

Get a factory-trained technician at your local dealership to find and fix the problem.

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Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres. Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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