Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingElectrical System and Electronics Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound – How To Fix This?

Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound – How To Fix This?

by Jordan Harris
Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound

Cars are not perfect and therefore problems like,” why does my radio turn on but no sound” can be relatively more common than you think. Modern cars have come a long way in technological advancements. But at the end of the day, it is a piece of machinery. Even if one part goes bad it can cause a number of things to malfunction.

One of the most soothing things you can do while driving your car is to listen to some soothing music, an educational podcast, or an enticing audiobook. This is a great way to enjoy your car ride and avoid boredom. The audio system of your vehicle can keep you attentive while you drive while keeping your passengers entertained.

When you turn on the speaker and do not hear anything can be extremely frustrating. This article will take you through the steps and teach you how you can fix this problem and start enjoying your infotainment system gain.

When the car stereo has no sound coming out of the speakers, the most common issue is a blown fuse, followed by loose wiring, this is extremely common in aftermarket stereo systems if you’ve ever been trying to replicate the cars with the best sound system.

How Does A Car Stereo Work

In-car entertainment systems have come a long way since they were first invented in the 1930s. Motorolla was the first company to produce a commercially successful car stereo called the Model 5T71.

Over the past 80-plus years, car stereos have evolved from the basic Am receiver to a single speaker to a complex electronic system. Nowadays, we even have people asking how does car WiFi work, showcasing just how complex in-car multimedia has evolved.

These modern and complex electronic audio systems reproduce music and other entertainment from both over-the-air signals and recorded formats. Many systems in the modern era can play music from several new sources.

Sources like radio, CD, portable music players like iPod, USB, SD cards, Bluetooth audio, and many more. The more complex these systems get, it makes it more and more difficult to pinpoint the part of the system that has malfunctioned.

To understand the answer to the question,” why does my radio turn on but no sound” you first need to know the inner workings of the car stereo. A basic understanding of what a car stereo system is composed of can help you pinpoint the origin of the problem “why does my radio turn on but no sound”.

Here is a list of components that compose the car stereo system.

1. The Head Unit

In simpler terms, a head unit is the heart of your infotainment or audio system. It is the face of the radio with controls, dials, and or a touchscreen. It contains all the hardware and software necessary for file reading.

The head unit is also responsible for connecting the USB, AUX, Bluetooth connections, volume controls, and much more on your car. As such, if you have issues such as the Bluetooth synching in your car not working, this is where you usually need to begin your diagnosis.

why does my radio turn on but no sound

A high-end audio system uses separate electronic components such as a radio tuner, a CD player, an amplifier, and much more. All of these are connected by various cables. When we talk about a car everything has to be cramped up in a relatively smaller place.

Hence the basic thing every head unit is responsible for is controlling the system volume and controlling the different sources that are available. A malfunction inside the head unit can be the basic cause of the problem,” why does my radio turn on but no sound”.

2. The Amplifier

The amplifier is responsible for exactly what the name suggests. It amplifies the signal coming from the head unit and converts it to make the sound that further comes out of your speaker.

Most aftermarket, as well as company-fitted head units, come with something called a pre-amp. It is powerful enough to control and amplify the sound of a basic set of speakers. If you decide to get high-end speakers for your vehicle, you need to upgrade your amplifier for the perfect crisp sound.

As said before the amplifier’s responsibility is to increase the power of the audio signal so that it is strong enough to move the speakers and create sound. To understand this better, you need to know that the amplification is a two-stage process that is handled by a preamp and a power amplifier.

The preamp is usually present inside the head unit and it is responsible for taking data from a radio, CD player, or other sources. It then further prepares it for the power amplifier. This process includes a slight boosting of the audio signal, which makes it compatible with the power output of the amplifier allowing for better sound quality.

The power amplifier is responsible for taking the low-level signal from the preamp. Furthermore, it boosts the signal significantly so that it can move the speakers and create sound. Any part that might have gone bad or malfunctioned can be the root cause of the problem,” why does my radio turn on but no sound”.

3. The Speakers

The speakers are one of the most important parts of the whole infotainment or music system in a car. The speakers are responsible for creating vibrations in the air, these vibrations are what we experience as sound.

Speakers take an amplified electrical signal and convert it into mechanical energy that can move the speakers back and forth. Therefore this moving of the speakers or the vibrations is what we interpret as sound.

Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound

A perfectly healthy human ear can hear these vibrations in a frequency range of about 20 hertz (low bass) to 20,000 Hz (high notes). Most of the basic automotive speakers are designed to cover the entire frequency range.

Due to the vast range, average speakers generally might have nonexistent and unresponsive bass. Alongside that, even the higher frequencies are also quite dull. You can get a more accurate and better sound if the reproduction of the sound is made through an assortment of speakers dedicated to a specific range of frequencies.

The best example of this is a woofer, bass tube, and tweeters. Woofers and subwoofers are large speakers designed to produce low-frequency bass sounds. The midrange drivers as the name suggests are responsible for handling all the mid-level frequencies.

Some high-end systems also have a specialized mid-bass driver that handles the bass between the troublesome low and mid-level frequencies. Tweeters are the smallest of these specialized drivers and it is responsible for producing the upper treble frequencies.

Any sort of problem in any of these different speakers can be the cause of the problem,” why does my radio turn on but no sound”. This is basically one step up from where your car stereo won’t turn on, but it has power.

4. The Wiring

The last but not least important part of this whole system is the wiring between these different parts themselves. Wiring connects the head unit to these various parts and more that are listed above.

Wiring connects the head unit to the antenna, amplifier, car battery, ETC. The amplifier is connected to the car battery and all of the speakers are present inside the car. This is also relevant if you want to install Apple CarPlay or a third-party head unit.

Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound

Wiring might not sound very complicated, but it is extremely important for the whole system to work without a hiccup. If any of the wirings have been disconnected or broken at any part of the system, it can lead to the problem,” why does my radio turn on but no sound”.

No Sound From the Speakers

There can be several reasons why you might be facing the problem,” why does my radio turn on but no sound”. Amongst these several reasons are some that are relatively common and might be the root cause of this problem.

Now because we know the components that are present in the infotainment system, we can easily understand and pinpoint these problems. In order to make things easier, we will also include some of the DIY steps you can undertake to fix these problems. Here is a list of all of the common problems that might help you out.

Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound, Possible Causes #1: Blown Fuse

A blown fuse is one of the most common reasons for your vehicle to be acting this way. A blown fuse might be the reason for your speakers or even the radio to die. All the car radios at least have one fuse that is there in place to protect against any power surges coming from somewhere else in the vehicle.


Therefore, the first thing you should do when your radio stops working is to check the fuses and replace any of them that have gone bad or blown. Alongside that, if you have an aftermarket head unit, that can be removed easily.

Be sure to check the back side of the removed head unit as sometimes there are fuses at the back of the head unit as well. Whenever you are dealing with an electrical issue with any part of the vehicle, the first thing you need to do is check the fuse box.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the windscreen, wipers, headlights, or the car stereo, the fuse box is the first place you need to look. Any blown fuse should be replaced as soon as possible and one with the same rating.

For a cheap price, you can also get an entire fuse kit. This kit comes with a plucker to make it easy for the fuses in and out of sockets. Once you have replaced the fuse, check the radio again and if it still does not work you need to move to the next steps.

Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound, Possible Causes #2: Wiring Problems

A problem with the stereo wiring is extremely unlikely, even if your vehicle is extremely old. The more likely problem that your car might be facing is loose wiring instead of broken. The wiring in a car can become loose due to vibrations and bumps caused by regular driving.

stereo head unit system

As there are so many parts in a car stereo system there can be several wiring connections that you might have to check. Here is an explained list of all the components and how you need to check them.

Head Unit Wiring

For checking the wiring of your head unit, you need to first get access to the backside of the head unit. This is not as easy as you think, especially if the head unit is a company-fitted OEM one. Many car stereos are deliberately difficult to reach because of the anti-theft measures taken by the manufacturers.

You can always search on youtube for how to safely remove the head unit on your specific vehicle. Once you have made the head unit loose, just tilt it out of the dashboard enough to access the back of the head unit. You need to check all the wiring and the connectors inside the dashboard.

Keep in mind that some of the connector’s cars be deliberately disconnected, so check the owner’s manual for the head unit. You need to check the head unit’s owner manual for the exact number and type of connectors that your system takes.

Once you have completed this process try turning on your radio and check the car. Ensure that any issues, such as your Apple CarPlay integration not working, are solved. You need to do this before you put the head unit back. And while you’re here, make sure you’re also aware of single DIN vs double DIN sizing.

Loose Amplifier Wiring

The amplifier, just like the head unit, has several pieces of wiring. This wiring goes in and out towards the speakers and other parts of the vehicle (like the battery). Inspect the connectors and see if there is any broken piece of wiring or disconnected wiring.

Usually, if you’re wondering where the amplifier is located, you need to check the cargo space or the boot space of your car. If the amplifier is company fitted, you need to check the owner’s manual to locate this piece of equipment.

You need to do a bit of research to find out where to look. An aftermarket amplifier is the most common part that can face loose wiring. This can further cause the problem,” why does my radio turn on but no sound”.

Loose Speaker Wiring

The final place where there is stereo wiring available is the speakers. It is extremely unlikely that the wire would disconnect from the speakers, but it is worth checking. Alongside that one, the disconnected speaker would not cause the entire system to malfunction.

This is more appropriate when only one of the speakers not working. Hence if you want to find the faulty speaker, you need to fader and balance to zome out parts of the car. Once you have done that carefully remove the speaker covers with a flathead screwdriver and check the wires.

To reconnect any broken wires, you will need a soldering station. Yes, it is not the cheapest tool but it will still be cheaper than the gas, time, and money that you would spend on an electrician. Plus, you get to use it for future projects.

Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound, Possible Causes #3: Failed Amplifier Or Preamp

As said before in this article, the amplifier is in charge of making the stereo signal. This stereo signal is further used by the speakers to create sound. When an amplifier fails, you can expect that there is going to be a lack of sound. Alongside that, you can also experience some distortion, or some unusual sound coming from the speakers.

stereo head unit system

Some preamps can not be disconnected from the head unit. Even if it is possible to replace this preamp, it can be extremely difficult to find a preamp sold separately. Most preamps come as a package with the head unit.

If you have an independent music system, you’re in luck. Any part of an independent stereo system can be easily changed. Just keep in mind the number of channels and specifications for your amplifier.

Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound, Possible Causes #4: Buttons And Knobs

Sometimes everything from your wiring and the components of your system works perfectly. The problem might be in the buttons or the knobs that might be on the head unit. If you see that the power indicator shows that the radio is on, then there might be a problem with the buttons.

A basic example of this is that the volume knob is stuck at the lowest possible level. Hence, a stuck button or even a broken button can be the cause of your speakers not working.

Why Does My Radio Turn On But No Sound, Possible Causes #5: Software Issues

Most of the modern head units that come for your vehicle, have several features. These features include software like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, and many more.

Now because of several software on your head unit, there are several things that can go wrong. Any malfunction in this software can cause the music system to cease. Whenever you face an issue like this, always remember to either update your system or just reset it to the latest updated software.

In Conclusion…

As said before, one of the most frustrating problems you can face with your vehicle is your speakers not working. The problem, “why does my radio turn on but no sound” has been a common problem faced by several cars.

With the growing innovation of the automotive industry and new features being incorporated every single day, there are several things that can go wrong with your car. Technology is not always perfect and even one piece of hardware malfunction can cause problems in your car.

Hence, here is everything you need to know about the problem, “why does my radio turn on but no sound”. And while you’re here, you might also find our guide on the Honda Odyssey radio reset code might be handy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of all the common questions people have regarding the problem, “why does my radio turn on but no sound”.

Why Is My Audio Not Working

There can be several things that can go wrong with an audio system on a car as said before in the article. Modern audio systems have several features and a number of components available. Hence, there are several things that can malfunction in an audio system. The most common cause of this problem is a blown fuse. A blown fuse, as small a problem as it sounds, can be the reason why your stereo system is not getting any power. A fuse is responsible for saving the electronic equipment on your vehicle from getting spoilt due to fluctuations. Alongside that a brake in the wiring or a piece of equipment malfunctions. There can be problems with the software, head unit, amplifier, and the rest of the equipment that are present in a car’s audio system.

How To Make Car Speakers Louder Without Amp

Now you have to understand that not all cars come equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system. There are a number of cheaper audio system options that companies put in and they might not be fulfilling your audio needs. Now there are several cheaper ways you can not only improve the quality of the sound of the system but also make your speakers louder. The first thing you would want to do, to make your speakers loud is to dampen the car noise. Oftentimes, the ambient noise inside the car might weaken the sound of your audio system. What you need to do is add insulators to dampen the sound coming from your engine. You can also purchase a subwoofer, as they are relatively cheaper than an amp. Alongside that, an external speaker or better wire connections might do the trick for you.

Why Is My Car Radio Display Not Working

The modern world is filled with cars that come with a full digital display, touch screens, and several other features. A digital head unit can be extremely convenient, but very frustrating if it randomly stops working. This might happen more often than you think. One of the main reasons this happens is because of a blown fuse. Fuses as said before might sound like a small part to be stressing over. But they are the most common issues that might cause your screen to black out. Another thing that can go wrong with your head unit is a malfunctioning screen. Usually, the screen is a part of the head unit, and changing the display can be very difficult and very expensive. The third and last thing for your display to black out is that there is a problem with the wiring of your audio system.

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