So, you’re driving down the road, minding your own business, and all of a sudden, the speakers stop working. You check the radio/stereo system, and it’s got power, but the speakers make no sound. How can one solve this issue? More importantly, what’s causing the speakers to fail? Are the wires the root of the problem? Or maybe the in-dash receiver is to blame? Could it be the amplifier?
The first thing that you need to do when there’s no sound from speakers is to take a breather. Don’t rush into anything! Instead, check all the “usual suspects”. In this guide, you’ll learn how to diagnose the various systems to figure out what’s wrong and how to solve the problem. Follow me, and we’ll be done in no time!
#1: Start with Wires
This one’s pretty obvious: check on the wires. It could be that they’re not connected properly, and that’s why your speakers aren’t making a sound. Examine the wires that go from the speakers into the stereo and then the ones running from the amplifier into the dash. Everything seems to be ok? Still, go ahead and reconnect them to make sure this isn’t the issue. If it’s a third-party wire harness that you’re using, it will, most likely, be labeled.
A factory one, in contrast, will be color-coded. In any way, it shouldn’t be hard to find the right wires and inspect them. And if you’re having difficulties with making sense of the different colors, refer to your vehicle’s user manual. The speaker wires always come in a pair – negative, and positive. To access them, you might have to remove the dashboard panels (this depends on your car’s make, model, and year).
#2: Check on the Amplifier
Third-party equipment is often the cause of “mute” speakers. In this case, we’re talking about the amplifier. What I want you to do is to remove the amp from the chain. That’s right: simply disconnect it, and see what happens. The speakers might just start making a sound again. The thing is – when one of the devices in the chain is faulty, that can cause a malfunction.
Obviously, do this only when the car stereo has power but no sound from speakers. If the stereo does NOT have power, disconnecting, fixing, or replacing the amplifier won’t do any good. In that situation, it would be wise to check on the battery unit, the car’s engine, or diagnosing the actual head unit.
#3: Examine the Fuses
Fuses tend to blow – that’s just how it is. They contain a very thin and easily melting piece of wire that takes the “heat” when there’s a spike in the circuit, thus protecting the wires, connectors, and all the audio equipment in the chain. So, yes, a bad fuse is another common cause of sound-less speakers. This usually happens instantly: one second you were enjoying quality music, and the next sound stopped working.
That’s because when the fuse “dies”, the circuit gets disconnected (again, for safety reasons). First, locate the fuse box: usually, it’s hidden in the back of the stereo system. Sometimes, you can visually see that it’s gone bad (like it’s all-black and stuff); other times, it will be harder to detect. The good news is – brand-new fuses cost +/- $1 and won’t break the bank. If the fuse blows shortly after the installation, I recommend paying an auto/workshop a visit.
#4: Play Around with the Buttons and Knobs
This might sound silly, but a lot of times we forget that we muted the head unit yesterday and that’s why there’s no sound coming out from the speakers today. Or, maybe you just tapped into the wrong settings, and now the stereo is blocking the speakers or sending audio to the wrong channel(s). First of all, check the volume, fader, and EQ. The fader controls where the audio is coming from.
If you’ve got a set of front speakers, and the fader is set to only play through the rear speakers, you’ll have a problem. The EQ, in turn, can completely cut out certain frequencies, making music inaudible. The volume knob is easy: crank it up and see what happens. Last, but not least, resetting to default settings could also solve the issue.
#5: Maybe it’s The Head Unit?
Even if you’ve got the best budget car stereo, it might give up on you somewhere along the way. How do you check that, though? If you’ve got an “extra” set of speakers, just go ahead and connect them to the vehicle’s head unit. You can use home theater speakers or ask a buddy to lend his equipment for 5 minutes. This is actually a very accurate test that can help figure out whether it’s the stereo acting up, or if your car speakers are, indeed, failing.
Plugging the stock speakers into another car’s stereo is also an option, but it will take more time and effort on your side. And one more thing: if the head unit comes equipped with a CD/DVD player, fire it up. Chances are, it’s the radio not working properly, and the speaker set is doing fine.