The main point of a car is to get you from point A to point B, but most of us are a lot more comfortable with some entertainment along the way. Car radios have become standard equipment. In fact, they’ve become quite advanced, even on entry-level models. Today’s systems include everything from CD players to satellite radio, built-in subwoofers and a great deal more.
How this system works:
Like other automotive electrical systems, your car’s radio is actually very complex. It pulls power from the alternator while the engine is running, or from the battery if the radio is on but the engine isn’t running. Wiring connects the radio to the battery and alternator, as well as to each of the speakers located throughout the cabin.
All car radios require at least one fuse in order to operate, but depending on the make and model in question (as well as the trim package for the vehicle), your radio may have multiple fuses. Fuses work to protect electrical components from power spikes, and will “blow” if too much current floods the system.
Of course, the radio must also work in tandem with other audio components. For instance, higher-end car audio systems often include an onboard amplifier. If the amp isn’t getting electricity, the system as a whole will not work (but the radio will usually turn on). Troubleshooting car radio problems can be frustrating simply due to the number of potential problems.
Common reasons for this to happen:
Blown Fuse: One of the most common reasons for a car radio to stop working is a blown fuse. If the radio itself will not turn on, chances are good that there’s one or more blown fuses causing the problem. This should be verified by testing the radio for power and ground with a voltmeter, as well as an inspection for blown fuses.
Wiring Short: If one of the wires (or more than one) has shorted out in the audio system, you may see either erratic operation, or no operation at all. This can also cause fuses to blow in rapid succession (you replace a fuse and it blows again shortly after).
Damaged Antenna or Tuner: If the car’s CD player still works, but the radio itself doesn’t, then the problem most likely lies with either the antenna or the tuner. A damaged antenna means that your radio isn’t able to receive signal from stations. A damaged tuner means that you’ll most likely need to replace the head unit itself.
Damaged Speaker Wires - If your car radio will turn on, but you’re not getting sound (or are getting sound from just one or two speakers), the culprit is most likely a speaker wire that’s been damaged. These run through the cabin, connecting each speaker to the head unit (or the amplifier).
What to expect:
A top-rated mobile mechanic will come to your home or office to inspect the entire audio system and determine the cause of the problem. Depending on the exact symptoms you’re experiencing, the mechanic may have to conduct voltage testing, inspect for blown fuses, trace wiring and more. The mechanic will then provide a detailed inspection report that includes the scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
How it's done:
The mechanic will need to inspect the vehicle, including the radio, fuses, wiring harness and possibly more depending on the exact symptoms you’re experiencing. The complexity of the modern automotive audio system means that there could be any number of problems present. Depending on the situation, the mechanic will test for voltage into the radio, to the amplifier, to each of the speakers and more. Once the problem has been located, the mechanic will recommend the next step in the process.
How important is this service?
While a nonfunctional car radio won’t prevent you from driving, it can be a serious inconvenience. It limits your entertainment options, but it can actually be a safety issue. Many drivers rely on their radio to help them stay alert and awake while driving.
Car radio problems are most common with aftermarket equipment installed, but even OEM equipment can experience problems ranging from shorts to blown fuses to corrosion. If your car radio isn’t working, or the system isn’t working properly, one of our mechanics can inspect and diagnose the problem, and then repair the system for you.