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Car Radio Turns Off While Driving

Car Radio Turns Off While Driving? 7 Possible Causes

Suppose your car radio turns off while driving, the fun of using a radio will be omitted. It means you can’t listen to music or news at a stretch without being interrupted. This can be annoying and frustrating.

However, if your radio keeps shutting off while driving, it means there is something wrong somewhere and must be fixed. However, before fixing a problem, one must know the cause. So why does a car radio turn off while driving?

The most common reason a car radio turns off while driving is mostly related to wiring issues. The wires could be loose or short, or poorly soldered. A radio can also turn off due to a loose faceplate, software issues, bad belt tensioner, etc.

7 Reasons your car radio turns off while driving

why is my car radio not working?
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Common reasons a car radio turns off while driving includes;

1. Wire shortings

There is a wire harness at the back of every radio that holds all the wires together. Sometimes, these wires get twisted together. How? Most old wires often have cuts in them that, over time, expose their copper. This may later resort to a situation called wire shorting. Wire shorting means when wires contact themselves.

Wire shorting occurs mostly when cars are driven past bumpy roads. Prompting wires that are naturally not supposed to touch each other connect with themselves. For example, a black ground wire contacting the red power wire can trigger the stereo to shut off abruptly when driving through bumps.

2. Loosed wires

Another reason a car shuts off while driving may stem from a loose wire–specifically if the ground and power wires are loose. A loose power and ground wire won’t make adequate contact.

Hence, preventing the radio from getting stable voltage needed to function. The unstable voltage causes the radio to turn off while driving. Sometimes, even if the radio doesn’t turn off, it might lose sound if the voltage is too low.

3. Loosed faceplate

Car owners with removable faceplates may remove their faceplates, so they don’t get stolen when their cars are parked outside. Chances are, when these faceplates were placed back, they didn’t sit properly on the stereo’s panel.

There is gold metal at the back of the panel that helps establish electrical connections to the stereo. If this metal is not pushed in and clipped properly to the panel, it won’t make a good electrical connection with the radio. Hence, causing the radio to turn off while driving.

4. Loosed gauge butt connectors

Gauge butt connectors are used to join wires when installing a new radio or during repair after removing a damaged wire section. If, however, the butt connectors are too big, connections will not be firm and cause power loss. Hence, causing the radio to shut off while driving.

4. Charging issues

When the belt tensioner is faulty, it won’t allow the alternator to charge the battery. This can also cause a car radio to lose power and shut off while driving.

5. Software issues

Sometimes, a stereo can go off due to software issues. Most times, a reset can help out.

6. Overheating

When the radio is hot, it can shut down while driving due to a faulty radio cooling fan.

7. Faulty head unit

Sometimes, there might be an internal fault in the head unit. Only a proper diagnosis could prove this anyways.

What to do when a car radio turns off when driving

a car radio
Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

The first thing is to confirm what is causing the issue and then act accordingly. The following may help.

  • It might be a software issue. All you need to do is reboot the radio. To do this, press the push button beside the CD for a few seconds and release. And ensure you do this when you have enough power. If this doesn’t work, move on to the next step.
  • Check the wires in the wire harness. If the body of the wires has cuts, seal them with tapes to avoid unwanted connections. If they are wrapped together, detangle them. Also, check for rust.
  • Check for loose ground wires and tighten them as needed. Ensure they are connected firmly to avoid disconnections.
  • While returning faceplates, ensure they are pushed in and clipped properly to the panel.
  • Install a new fan if the radio cooling fan is faulty to avoid overheating.
  • Use appropriate gauge butts in connecting wires.
  • Check for blown fuse. A blown fuse can still make electrical connections that disconnect unexpectedly.
  • If an internal fault is detected in the head unit, the only option is a replacement.

Replacing a radio that turns off while driving

listening to radio while driving
Photo by why kei on Unsplash

If the radio turns off because of an internal fault in the head unit, the only option will be to replace the head unit. However, ensure you have properly diagnosed that it is indeed from the head unit. Because a car’s radio could be turned off while driving for other reasons.

Changing a head unit without knowing the cause of the problem is a total waste of cash. Because after replacing the head unit, the fault may persist. Meaning you will need to spend money again


If a car radio turns off while driving, it may be due to one or more faults in the radio. It could be a bad connection caused by short or loose wires and a loose faceplate.

It can also stem from a faulty radio cooling fan, bad belt tensioner, software issues, wrong gauge butts, or faulty head unit. However, the best way to fix this problem is first to know where the fault stems from.

What causes a car radio to work without sound?

A car radio losing its sound with the head unit still on could stem from an internal fault in the head unit. It can also be due to faulty speakers, speaker wiring, or amplifiers.

Why does a car radio turn off at high volume?

Stereo shutting off at high volume may stem from wires not being able to conduct efficiently or loose/damaged wires. It could also be due to using wires not powerful enough to power the radio.

Why do car radios suddenly stop working?

A common reason a radio can suddenly stop working is due to a blown fuse. If the CD player still works, but the radio doesn’t, it’s probably the tuner or Athena.


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