The Head Unit Has Power But It Won't Play


Car stereo systems can have their share of unique challenges, especially for the novice. Unexpected issues can arise, such as the radio powering up but outputting no sound. There are a few typical causes that can easily be checked sequentially with troubleshooting steps. Once the issue is discovered, the installer can proceed with enjoying the stereo system.

Things You'll Need

  • Fuse (if necessary)
  • Access the rear of the radio. Find the harness that has the green and gray speaker wires. Ensure that the harness is connected to the port on the radio, and that it is fully seated.

  • Ensure that the radio has internal amplification. Determine this by cross-referencing the radio's model number with the manufacturer's online database, or by consulting the user's manual. These units often come with harnesses and speaker wire connections, with no power supplied to it. External amplification will solve this issue.

  • Make sure that the power antenna lead is not connected to the remote turn-on lead, if an external amplifier is in use. These wires often look very similar, and can be confusing if the labeling on the wire is ignored. If this is the case, once a CD is inserted, sound will cut out with the de-activation of the tuner.

  • Check that the amplifier is turning on, if an external unit is in use. If not, locate the fuses on the amp and under the hood. Check to see if any of these are blown, and replace them if necessary. The radio will continue to turn on, with no sound from the amplifier.

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  • Photo Credit autoradio 2 image by Nathalie P from
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