Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power – What To Do?

by Conner Mckay

Blowing fuses, bad wiring, and dead batteries that activate the anti-theft settings of the vehicle are the most common reasons that your car stereo won’t turn on but it has power. You may rapidly resolve this issue by checking the fuses, pigtail connector, power at the head unit, and protect mode in your vehicle.

To figure out why your car stereo won’t turn on but has power, you’ll need to look at each of these likely problems one at a time. We’ll go through all of the various causes and solutions for the car stereo won’t turn on but it has power in this post.

Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power

When there is a problem with any of the power sources or any part where the electricity goes through, your car radio will stop working properly. There is no music if there is no power. The car stereo won’t turn on but it has power. What could be the source of this problem?

One of the difficulties that can cause your car radio to malfunction is wiring. Wires connect the radio to the power supply and speakers, which are generally placed beneath the dashboard. The radio will not function if there is a problem with the wiring.

Car Stereo Won't Turn On But It Has Power

Another typical cause of car stereo won’t turn on but it has power is blown fuses. Like much other electrical equipment, car radios employ fuses to protect against damage caused by power fluctuations. The audio circuit in the automobile is disrupted if the fuse blows, and the radio will not turn on. Finally, keep in mind that a faulty ground connector could be the reason for your audio problems.

Signs And Symptoms Of Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power:

  • The radio will not turn on whether it’s a wiring issue or a blown fuse.
  • There is either a power or ground connection problem if the car radio cuts off after a few seconds at unpredictable intervals.
  • The car radio’s display and sound turn on and off simultaneously, indicating that the head unit isn’t receiving enough power.
  • When the radio shuts out while negotiating a corner or traveling over a bump, it’s most likely due to a loose connector in the back of the device.

What Should You Do If Your Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power?

  Follow these steps to accomplish this:

  • Make sure the system’s power is turned off first.
  • Make sure your multimeter is set to ohms.
  • Check whether a reading is recorded by touching the metal caps of the fuse with the multimeter’s testing leads.
  • The fuse is not blown if the multimeter does not produce a reading, if the multimeter does show a reading, the fuse has blown.

Check to see whether your car stereo’s ground connection is loose or rusty if you feel it’s the cause of the problem. If either of these scenarios applies, you’ll need to replace or repair your music player to get back on track.

How Does A Car Stereo Work?

These details won’t burden you, but knowing how a car’s audio works is crucial. First, let’s go over the components list:

  • With controls, dials, or a touchscreen, the radio’s face is known as the head unit. It comes equipped with all of the essential hardware and software for file reading, USB, AUX, Bluetooth connections, and volume controls.
  • The amplifier performs precisely what its name implies: it amplifies the signal from the head unit to increase the volume of the sound emanating from the speakers. A pre-amp is included with most aftermarket and factory head units, and it is powerful enough to operate a simple pair of speakers.
  • The signal is transformed into air vibrations, which humans perceive as sound, via speakers.
  • The antenna, amplifier, and automobile battery are all connected to the head unit via wiring. If present, the amplifier is linked to the automobile batteries as well as all of the speakers inside the vehicle.

Reasons Of Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power

You can already guess what’s causing the car stereo won’t turn on but it has power that you’re familiar with the components. To make things easier, I’ll go over all of the causes and, if possible, how to repair them yourself.

1. Car Battery Is Dead

The radio system works well most of the time, but when you attempt to turn it on, the car stereo won’t turn on but it has power due to a dead car battery. As a result, make sure your engine is functioning before determining whether or not anything else in your vehicle that requires power is operational. If everything else is in order, the battery should be good.

If nothing else in your vehicle demands power, focus on your battery rather than the infotainment system.

2. The Power Button Is Problematic

It’s possible that a malfunctioning power button is to blame if you turn on the ignition, but your car stereo won’t turn on but it has power. To see if this is the case, simply press and hold other buttons to see if any other buttons work. If none of them work, it’s probably time for a new power button.

To double-check, look through the user handbook for the stereo and see if there’s a way to turn it on without pushing the power button. You should be able to do a stereo reset or other troubleshooting steps without having to turn the device on by pushing the power button.

3. Fuse That Has Blown Up

When you’re dealing with an electrical issue, you should always start by looking at the fuse box. Whether it’s the windshield wipers, headlights, or car stereo, fuses are simple to check and the best problem to have, given how inexpensive they are.

Because there is no standardized mounting place for fuse boxes, conduct a fast google picture search to discover yours. It can be found in the engine compartment, near the battery, or beneath the windshield, behind a protective cover. The fuse box can also be found underneath the center armrest, on the left side of the front cabin partition, or beneath the steering wheel.

After you’ve located the fuse box, use a test bulb to tap the metal spots on top of the fuses to see if they’re operational. You can also pull each fuse one at a time to determine if the metal wire running through the center has cracked.

Replace any blown fuse with a new one of the same rating. You can acquire a whole spare fuse kit for a few bucks that includes a fuse plucker to facilitate getting the fuses in and out of the sockets easier.

Turn on the radio and listen to see whether the sound is coming from the speakers after you’ve switched all of the fuses. If it isn’t, you’ve probably solved some other electrical issue you weren’t even aware of, such as a blown rear fog lamp fuse or a rarely utilized component.

It’s a good idea to keep a check on the fuses once they’ve been replaced to see whether they’ll blow again in the coming days. Fuses can fail at any time, but recurrent failures indicate an electrical system problem.

4. Wiring Errors

Even though the automobile is decades old, stereo wiring failure is quite unusual. The most likely issue is wire growing loose as a result of regular driving vibrations and bumps.

Car Stereo Won't Turn On But It Has Power

5. Improper Head Unit Wiring

You must first obtain access to the backside of the head unit in order to inspect the wiring. Because car stereos are designed to be difficult to remove as an anti-theft strategy, it is not as simple as you may expect. You’ll need to conduct your own research to determine how to remove yours without harming the dashboard or head unit.

Slowly drag the head unit back from the dashboard until it tilts out. Check every cable and connector to check if they’ve gotten loose, and more importantly, look inside the dashboard for any loose connectors. Keep in mind that these could have been left disconnected on purpose, so check your head unit’s installation manual for the exact number and kind of connectors required. After that, turn on the stereo to ensure it works before replacing the head unit.

6. The Protected Mode Might Have Been Enabled

Some audio equipment has an anti-theft security mechanism that is affected when there is a power outage. The reason is that if the audio device is stolen, it will be rendered useless.

If your automobile audio system is anti-theft secured, you should hear a different warning. It should either ask for a code or not work at all.

You’ll need to enter a code or go through some troubleshooting processes to repair this. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for more information. If the screen is entirely blank and your stereo does not have an anti-theft feature, the issue could be something else.

7. Anti-Theft Security Measures

When there is a power outage, some car radios (usually factory/stock systems) contain a feature that prohibits them from working. This is actually an anti-theft measure, as it renders the radio useless unless the vehicle owner takes a certain series of actions to restore it to working order.

A disconnected or dead battery is the most prevalent cause of car stereo won’t turn on but it has power which is indicated by a limited or different display on the radio than what is generally displayed. Because every measure is different, consult your owner’s manual if you believe this is the case.

8. The Pigtail Connector Could Be Faulty

If you just put in new car audio and it won’t come on, the problem could be the wiring.

The first step is to remove the newly installed car audio to figure out why the car stereo won’t turn on but it has power. The audio unit’s pigtail connector should be correctly attached. You can also take it out and put it back in to ensure an electrical connection.

Next, check the black ground wire, the yellow constant 12v line, and the red accessory 12v wire with a voltage meter or a test light. The cables should be activated appropriately. Even if the automobile is turned off, the yellow wire should always contain 12 volts.

If the automobile is turned on, the red wire should only have 12 volts. To see if the ground battle works, try it out on another metal ground. In some cases, an aftermarket automobile radio’s wiring differs from the OEM system’s. There are six wires in specific audio devices.

Car Stereo Won't Turn On But It Has Power

Consult the instructions to ensure that the wiring is connected correctly. We can safely assume that there is nothing wrong with the wires, only the connection because the car stereo won’t turn on but it has power.

Before continuing with the diagnostic process, you’ll need to remove the head unit to access the wiring. Double-check that the pigtail connector is appropriately positioned in the head unit with this in mind. If you’re worried about the pigtail, you can remove it and reinstall it to ensure it’s well seated.

9. The Power At The Head Unit Is Faulty

Most car radios have two power wires: one that stays hot all the time and powers the memory, and another that only gets hot when the ignition key is switched on. If these power lines are inverted, the radio will not work properly or at all.

If you have power at the fuse block but no voltage at the head unit, you most likely have a damaged wire, which you will need to trace down to the source to locate and repair.

What Should You Do If Your Head Unit Loses Power?

Check that the power line supplies 12V to the head unit with a voltmeter. If the power line is malfunctioning, the issue is with the head unit. Before you give up on the device, consider the following options:

  • Replace the power line.
  • Check for blown fuses and, if necessary, replace them.
  • Examine the battery.
  • Check the head unit for ground

Poor head unit grounds are more likely to cause problems like ground loops than total failures, but if everything else checks out, you should check to make sure your head unit has a good ground before you dismiss it.

There are several methods for doing this, ranging from physically evaluating the ground to ensure that it is free of corrosion and tightly attached to using a multimeter to check ground between the head unit pigtail and a known good ground on the vehicle’s body. On the other hand, a bad ground will almost never cause the head unit to stop turning, although a detached ground will.

What happens if you don’t ground your car stereo? This is a critical subject to consider. Poorly placed ground points cause most audio issues that aren’t caused by equipment. Poor grounding can cause the amplifier to clip in addition to alternator noise.

The amp may cut in and out due to poor grounding. The amps draw more electricity when the car stereo is turned up. The amp will not pull the required current if the system’s ground is unreliable. Normally, this causes the amplifier to clip.

Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power Symptoms:

The alternator makes a whining noise, and the audio system makes obnoxious noises.

How to guarantee that your car audio is properly grounded. When checking the integrity of other connections, keep in mind that grounding is crucial. A larger ground is required if you install a huge automobile audio system. It’s also crucial to note that the car’s chassis should serve as the ground.

Many people mistake grounding their automobile audio system with the negative battery post. This is a bad idea since all of the ripples from various devices, including the alternator, pass through this location. Using it as a ground, all of the noise from these items is invited into the sound system. That is something you do not want to happen.

Test The Head Unit And Replace It If Necessary

If your radio has power and ground but isn’t in any sort of anti-theft mode, it has most likely failed and will need to be replaced. If you want to bench test the unit, connect the power and ground leads straight to 12V positive and negative; however, if the power and ground both work in the vehicle, you’re unlikely to get a different result after the unit is removed. It’s possible that the head unit has to be replaced.

The Stereo Has Deteriorated

Finally, if you’ve tried everything above and still the car stereo won’t turn on but it has power, it’s conceivable that it’s malfunctioning. Taking it to an authorized service center is the best approach to determine whether this is really happening.

Your local dealership will provide free diagnostic services to assist you in determining the problem. They’ll inspect everything from the speakers to the wiring, and if necessary, they’ll replace your vehicle stereo for free if it’s still under warranty.

How Do I Repair A Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power?

Remove the automobile stereo from its DIN position in the dashboard, which is an internationally standardized slot. To fit into the notches on each side of the panel and extract the head from the mounting bracket, you’ll probably need a set of car stereo removal tools. You should be able to see certain groupings of wires linked to wiring harnesses on the back of the head.

The wiring harness can divide speakers, power, and accessories, such as subwoofers, into two or three regions. Make sure no loose wires are entering the harness by inspecting it closely.

  • Ensure that the harnesses are connected to the car stereo. Find the ground terminal as well as the constant wires.
  • Get your multimeter ready. Set the DC setting on your multimeter. The negative probe should be placed on the ground terminal, and the positive probe should be placed on the constant wire. Check the stereo user handbook if you’re having problems finding the constant wire. It’s also useful to know that ground cables are usually green or yellow in color.
  • Examine what you’ve read. The multimeter should read twelve volts if you’ve done everything correctly. If the audio is in working order, it should display that reading whether the car is turned on or not. Prepare to examine the fuses if your multimeter does not show a value.

Test The 12 Volt Switch Wire

You’ve probably blown a fuse. We can test the twelve-volt switch wire if the constant wire has voltage and the multimeter reads about twelve volts.

  • Find the wire. The wire for a 12-volt switch is either yellow or red. Indicators indicating wire types can be found on the back of the stereo.
  • Set your car’s ignition to the proper position. Your key should now be in the accessory position. With the negative probe on the ground, touch the volt switch wire with the positive probe of the multimeter.
  • Examine the outcomes. If the multimeter measures no value, you have a blown fuse in the car usage box, and you have done everything correctly. The switch wire and its fuse are in good operating order if the voltage measured is twelve volts.

Examine The Ground Presence Of The Device

If the measurements indicate that everything is in order, but your stereo still won’t come on, we’ll need to examine the ground presence of the device.

  • Determine the location of the ground wire. The ground wire that connects the audio to the car must be contacted. Ground wires are black at all times.
  • Check to see if ground presence is acceptable. Change the multimeter’s mode to continuity. Place the positive probe on the black ground wire while the negative probe remains on the ground terminal. Your multimeter should make a sound if there is ground presence.
  • The faulty wire should be replaced. If you don’t hear anything and you’re certain you’ve done everything correctly, the issue is almost certainly with the wiring. Check that the stereo and car ground cables are both connected.

Disconnect and trim the wire if necessary, then reconnect it. If the problem persists, you’ll need to visit a repair shop and have the automobile ground wire replaced.

  • Inspect the fuse. Find the fuse box in your car. They can be found beneath the car’s hood or under the steering wheel. Unscrew the lid of the fuse box with a flathead screwdriver. After that, check to see if you can locate the stereo fuse and remove it. To find out if it’s blown, use a multimeter. An automobile fuse is tested in the same way as any other fuse.

Simply place the positive probe on the positive side and the negative probe on the negative side of the multimeter; the only thing left to do is take note of the reading. Replace the fuse if it has blown. However, if the fuse is in good operating order, you should have your car checked out by a mechanic.

Tips To Consider When Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power

  • To avoid short-circuiting the car, cover your probes with protective rubber caps.
  • Take your time to identify the wires precisely.
  • Take the stereo instructions if you’re having difficulties locating wires or just want to ensure you’re doing everything correctly. It includes step-by-step directions and blueprints.
  • The location of the car fuse box is explained in the car manual, as are the functions of each fuse.
  • If you still can’t find and cure the problem, take your car to a mechanic; the problem is most likely within the vehicle.

Car Radio Troubleshooting Facts:

  1. Most problems with car radios are intermittent, making them difficult to diagnose.
  2. There are a variety of internal and external issues that can cause car radio failure.
  3. Common car radio problems include blown fuses, damaged wiring, and anti-theft modes.
  4. To diagnose a car radio issue, tackle potential issues one at a time.
  5. Some car radios have a security feature that prevents them from operating after power has been interrupted.
  6. If a car radio is not turning on, check the fuses using a multimeter or test light.
  7. Check the pigtail connector and ensure it is seated properly in the head unit.
  8. Check for power at the head unit using a multimeter.
  9. Poor head unit grounds can cause issues, but typically not total failures.
  10. If the car radio has power and ground and isn’t in anti-theft mode, it may have failed and will need to be replaced.

Final Verdict, Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power:

One of the most challenging aspects of diagnosing electronics, including almost every electronic device in your car, is that most faults are intermittent. It can be challenging to pinpoint intermittent issues.

Unfortunately, if your car stereo won’t turn on but it has power, you may be faced with a hefty repair bill or the need to replace the unit entirely. The silver lining to this cloud is that you’re dealing with a problem that you can get to the bottom of and solve if you take a systematic approach.

Radios that won’t turn on are the most common problem, but you can also fix a radio that won’t switch off. Your stereo should be up and running again with a little debugging technique and replacing a damaged wire or fuse. If the troubleshooting steps described here don’t work, you may need to take your device to an authorized service center for repair.

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1 comment

jorden765 04/28/2022 - 7:16 pm

Agree with a well-written and well-researched article. Giving a good insight into the Car Stereo Systems
Car Stereo Systems


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