Car Radio Keeps Turning On and Off By Itself (SOLVED)

Norvan Martin

If your car stereo keeps turning on and off repeatedly, you won’t be able to enjoy your music without the annoying interruptions. There are several reasons for this issue, ranging from basic wiring mistakes to electrical faults. The good news is that this problem is normally easy to fix.

There are several reasons why your radio may turn on or off by itself. The most common reasons a car radio may turn on or off by itself are a faulty ignition switch, the radio getting old, faulty wiring, incorrect radio installation, a blown fuse, loose wire connections, a loose faceplate, or a faulty battery. To fix this issue, you need to begin by determining the exact root cause of the issue and address that.  

Car Radio Turn On by Itself

Let’s take a look at the three major causes of car stereo problems:

  1. Old Age: The first one is old age, which is an inevitable problem. Normally, this can cause wires to wear down and short with each other.
  2. Wiring: The second is faulty components or wiring. When the components are not correctly matched, the proper sound output is inhibited, this could lead to malfunction. You could also have issues with a loose faceplate or faulty head-unit wiring.
  3. Incorrect Installation: The final cause, which happens to be quite common, is incorrect installation, also referred to as “user error”. Regardless of the root cause of your car radio’s problem, you should quickly get it fixed to avoid any long-term issues.
  4. Blown Fuse: An electrical issue can cause the radio’s fuse to blow

Before we go into the fixes, one of the first things that you can try is to simply reset the radio. Most car stereos have a small reset button that you can use to reset the device in one go. Usually, this button is behind the front faceplate.

The power source of your car radio typically links directly to the ignition switch. What this implies is that the power source may not be turned off when you shut off the ignition.

A car radio that keeps turning itself on may not sound like much of a major problem until it starts getting annoying, particularly coming on when you don’t need it.

Well, these things don’t just happen, several factors contribute to this kind of radio fault and to help you check them, here are some things you could note;

Another likely cause is loose wires touching and causing shorts, leading to your car radio turning on spontaneously.

There could be an issue with where the switch is positioned inside of the system as well.
Outlined below are the major causes of this issue coupled with some light advice and quick fixes.

1. Blown Fuse

A fuse ensures that your car stereo gets the required operating voltage. The fuse is also designed to protect its circuit from any instance of shorting.

A poorly working or blown fuse might push your stereo into an on-off cycle which can be quite frustrating. A fuse can blow due to some electrical issue like an electrical short. 

Before you replace the fuse, you must inspect the electrical system to ensure that there are no lingering issues. If the issue persists when the fuse is replaced, it will simply blow again.

2. Loose Wires

If your stereo wires aren’t making proper contact, the radio may turn on and off intermittently. This normally happens when the power or ground wire arent making proper contact and, especially if you experience the issue when you go over a bump or around a corner for example.

Of course, a loose power wire means that the stereo will not get a stable voltage and so will turn on and off. You need to check that all your stereo wires (especially power and ground) are connected firmly.

3. Memory Wire Malfunction

If your car radio exhibits this malfunction specifically when you start your car, try to replace the memory wire and see if the problem goes away.

If you can’t detect any issue with the memory wire with a visual inspection, check it for its voltage reading through a multi-meter.

It is advised to entrust these repairs and replacements to a well-trained mechanic or automobile engineer to avoid worsening the issue.

4. Head Unit Wiring Malfunction

Sometimes every component of the car stereo is working perfectly fine except for some wires of the head unit.

Therefore, start troubleshooting when your car stereo keeps resetting. Inspect every wire coming out of the head unit, and see if it’s properly taped. Often, you may figure out the issue this way. 

In addition, sometimes the wires located at the back of the wiring harness (that is plugged into the radio) become shorted out with each other.

Normally, this happens with old wiring that is wearing away and exposes the copper wires. If these wires come into contact, there may be shorting.

For example, if the black ground wire touches the red power wire, you will likely have this problem especially if they only touch intermittently (when going over bumps for example).

You need to check all your stereo wires and ensure that there are no exposed ends and the wires are not touching.

5. Loose Faceplate

Many aftermarket radios have a removable front panel called the faceplate. These faceplates can be removed for extra security when you leave your car parked. However, behind the panel, you will normally find a gold metal contact that connects it to the radio.

If the gold contact is not pushed in correctly and clicked in, then it will not make a good electrical connection with the faceplate. 

It is easy to know if this is the issue because the screen display and lights will go off as well. To fix this issue, ensure that the faceplate is fully pushed onto the front of the radio and that the gold contact is clipped in firmly.

6. Alternator Charge Transfer

Powering on your car transfers the charge from the alternator to the car battery. But in the instance of a bad wire connection, the power transfer is improperly distributed and hence turns on your radio. To fix this, simply ensure the alternated to the battery properly.

7. Tuning Issues

Another problem that could be responsible for your radio turning on by itself could arise from the inability of the radio to tune into a recognizable channel.

Once a radio can’t pick a channel to settle into, it automatically repeats the process turning it on at intervals.

8. A Faulty Speaker

When the amplifier is faulty, it could lead to a frustrating period of silence followed by a sudden powering on as well. A good way to fix this is simply by fixing or replacing the amp.


Why Does Your Car Radio Turn Off by Itself?

Now what do you do if your car radio keeps turning off by itself?

Another common issue raised by car owners is about the car radio turning off. This problem is known as a sound cut.

Car Radio Keeps Turning Off By Itself

Sound cuts normally occur when the amplifier is getting overheated or a speaker wire has become loose.

Different possible reasons explain why your car radio keeps shutting off. It could be anything from a wiring error to a malfunctioning head unit.
Here are some potential signs that signal this problem and some basic troubleshooting techniques you can try.

1. Wire Shorting

This occurs when the wires at the back of your radio’s wiring harness get loose enough to start touching each other. When this happens, both wires get shorted out.

This can happen if the copper from the wires comes in contact with other wires they should not be connecting with. For example, the black ground wire touching the red power wire when going over bumps can make your car stereo shut off automatically.

2. Loosely Connected Wires

This is also another similar problem related to the first part of troubleshooting. This happens when the power and ground wires do not make proper contact with each other.

This can cause problems such as not getting enough power to the stereo, when the power output gets too low your radio will go off. So check that all wires are connected firmly with each other to ensure that they are secure.

3. Loose Front Panel/Face Plate

Nowadays, most car radios on the market come equipped with a detachable front panel you can take with you after you park your car.

While this helps in terms of security, it also leads to certain problems. The front panel is designed with a gold metal component that connects it to the radio.

When the metal contacts are not correctly placed or pushed in, the electrical connection will not happen properly. This might lead to intermittent power shortages that might make your car radio seemingly go off by itself.

4. Dead Battery

If you are listening to your radio with your car off, the battery may have drained and died. In this case, the radio will turn off and you won’t be able to start your car using the regular ignition. If you are wondering how long can you listen to the radio with the car off, it depends, but typically, you will get 2 to 3 hours depending on power usage.

Head Unit Keeps Turning On/Off

If you are finding that power cuts out in your recently installed aftermarket head unit, likely, that the head unit is not receiving 12V.Car Head Unit Keeps Turning On or Off

Another cause for a powerless head unit could be that your amplifier has switched to protection mode. This can happen in one of two ways.

One, the power produced by the alternator is too much for the amplifier and the amp has to protect itself from damage. Two, the battery is unable to provide the audio system with constant voltage.

How to Fix This Head Unit Issue

Use a voltmeter to check if the power wire is sending 12V to the head unit. If the power wire is doing so, then the problem is with the head unit itself.

Hopefully, that is not the case. Before you give up on the unit, check these possible solutions:

  • Change out the power wire.
  • Check for blown fuses and replace if necessary.
  • Check the battery.
  • Contact an Automobile expert.

One of these should fix your head unit and get it back to life. If your head unit has a faceplate, like a Kenwood or Pioneer, you may need to clean the contacts between the head unit and the faceplate. Please check out our guide on the Kenwood faceplate display not working.

How To Fix A Car Speaker That Cuts In and Out?

To solve this problem, ensure that there is enough airflow where the amplifier is mounted. The airflow keeps the amp cool at all times and should prevent sudden sound cut-offs. It’s also a good idea to check your speaker wires to make sure they are properly connected.

Lastly, no matter the scale of your car radio problem, the smartest thing to do is to contact a trusted automobile expert. However, with the right knowledge and equipment, you should be able to fix most radio problems that your vehicle encounters. 

How To Fix A Car Radio That Turns Off After A Few Seconds?

Car radios are powered by two important wiring systems; one is for receiving power from the ignition button upon powering up, while the other is a wire to supply constant power to the battery.

These wirings work together to ensure a constant workflow for your radio. However, a break or damage to either of the wires will be directly responsible for your radio turning off after a few seconds. To deal with this fault, you will need to ensure the wires are in good working condition and are both connected.

How To Fix A Sony Home Stereo That Keeps Turning Off?

Your home stereo turning off could be a direct result of many of the common faults of the home stereo and before you panic, here are some problems you can check that may be leading to your Sony home stereo turning off;

  • A short circuit from an extension box or circuit. This fault is most common with long-term extension box use. Remove the stereo from the extension box and plug it directly into the wall socket to check for this fault.
  • At times the remote control may be responsible for turning off your home stereo from a compressed power button on the remote.
  • Another factor to always check when having issues with your Sony stereo turning off is the fault from other components connected to the stereo, particularly your power cable. A damaged cable may contribute to your stereo turning off.
  • An automatic factor that can contribute to your home stereo is the auto standby mode. Check your stereo setting to confirm you haven’t set an automatic sleep timer in your stereo which could be responsible for your stereo shutting down.

How To Fix A Pioneer Car Stereo That Keeps Shutting Off?

Your pioneer car stereo is of course not designed to keep shutting down by itself. However, several issues can contribute to the stereo shutting down including:

  • Overheating of the car’s internal system which could trap hot air
  • Damage in the wire that was supposed to supply steady power to the stereo device
  • Alternator and battery inadequacy

These among other faults could ultimately lead to the constant shutting off of your pioneer car stereo.

How To Fix An Aftermarket Radio That Shuts Off Randomly?

Keeping your aftermarket radio working smoothly requires three important components. These are a 12-voltage constant, a ground, and another 12-voltage switch.

These three parts work together to ensure that the aftermarket keeps working effectively. Damage to any of these parts will eventually lead to the radio turning off at random intervals. 

How To Fix A Car Stereo Turns Off At High Volume?

The reason your car stereo turns off at a high volume could be connected to many reasons which are dependent on the wiring and the capacity of the speakers.

There are many contributing factors to this but the most common faults you can check are:

  • Damage to the wiring system in your car which could have led to damage resistance and power value of the amplifier is a good place to start your diagnosis.
  • Check the speaker value to know if there is any waiting problem and to know the watt value and amplifier rating.
  • The impedance value is another factor to consider nothing the ohm recommendations and pairing value to know which to connect it to and how loud it needs to go. An impedance value lower than that on the speaker in your car may give you a problem going on a higher volume.
  • All of the other faults pointed out above may point to one thing and that may we suggest that you change the speaker of your stereo completely to completely solve the problem.

How To Fix A Radio Turns Off When the AC is On?

Having a poor connection system on your car can cause several faults. Bad wiring for example might put pressure on another component which might overload or overwork the system.

Hence, the case of a radio turning off when the AC is turned off could be a product of these stated earlier faults as well. To diagnose this problem, some parts you can check include;

  • Your ignition system. A bad ignition can cause of system to fail at the start of another in your car.
  • Your battery cell may be failing already. A failed cell is another thing to might need to be checked, as this might be an indication that the battery is getting weak and inefficient.
  • The power supply from the alternator is another factor that can lead to failure. If the alternator is not supplying the parts of the car with enough power, it could lead to cutting out power from one to another.

On a final note, your radio/stereo can turn off for any of the many reasons stated above. This article should help you make the right decision to determine where the fault might be coming from. 

How To Fix A Car Radio That Only Works In  Accessory Mode?

If your car radio only works in accessory mode, this may be due to several issues, including the ones noted above. Please check out our guide on how to fix a car radio that only works in accessory mode to learn more.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin