Car Speaker Not Working On One Side (Fixes)

Norvan Martin
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Car speakers tend to break or wear out over time. That’s especially true considering the kind of low-quality OE (original equipment) speakers that come with most cars.

However, when one of the speakers isn’t working on one side, it’s wrong to assume that the speaker is the problem. That’s because there are several components before the car speaker, and any of them could be the cause of the problem.

Here’s is a simple procedure to test your audio components to diagnose the problem and know how to fix it. These fixes also work for issues where the front car speakers are not working.

(If your rear car speakers are not working, check out this guide for fixes. If your car speakers are muffled, you will need this guide. If your speakers are working but the sub is not working, check this guide.)

Why Are Your Car Speakers Only Playing On One Side?

For this article, we’ll assume that your car system has a two-channel amplifier, a crossover, a head unit, and two-door speakers – with only the left working and right speakers not working.

As such, you’ll want to make sure that the speaker is the root of your problem before removing it. For example, if your left-side speakers are not working, you can safely rule out the head unit and amp. That’s especially true if the speakers are behind the door panels since it is a very involved process.

There are many reasons why your car speakers may not be working on one side – whether it is your right speaker that is not working or your left speaker that is not working. The main issues normally include speaker issues, continuity problems, the amp, connection issues as well and the equalizer or crossover.

Common Issues

IssueDetails about Issue
The Speaker Could be BlownThe speaker cone might be damaged causing sound distortion or no sound at all.
The Wiring Could be DamagedDamaged wiring between the speaker and the head unit. This is more common in cars that have been in accidents.
The Head Unit Could be FaultyThe head unit might not be sending the right signal to the speaker.
The Speaker Could be DefectiveEven if the speaker is new, it might not function properly due to inherent defects.
Problem With the StereoThe stereo system might not be sending the correct signal to the speakers, causing them to remain silent.
The Fuse Could be BlownA blown fuse in the car's electrical system can cut off the power supply to the speakers.
The Ground Wire Could be LooseImproper grounding due to a loose ground wire can interrupt the speaker's functionality.
The Amplifier Could be FaultyIf the car has an amplifier, a malfunction in the amplifier could prevent the speakers from working.
Wires Broken at the Door HingeIt's common in cars like the Chevy Equinox for the speaker wires to break at the door hinge, causing speaker malfunction.

Common Solutions ( FOR LAYMAN ) – A Summary

Note: If you are someone who knows their way around a car, look at the solutions after this section.

  1. Initial Inspection: Always start by reviewing the most recent change or repair you made.
  2. Physical Examination:
    • Remove the speaker from the door while keeping it connected to see if it works outside.
    • Examine and wiggle the connections. Use pliers to tighten connectors if they feel loose.
    • Ensure wires aren’t grounding out on the door frame. If they are, they need a barrier.
  3. Multimeter Checks:
    • Set the meter to measure resistance (Ohms – the omega symbol) and check across speaker terminals. It should typically read around 4 Ohms.
    • Perform a resistance check from speaker input wires to the amp or radio. During this, wiggle the wire. There shouldn’t be a change from 0.
    • Conduct a resistance check from each wire to the chassis. All should be OL indicating no grounding connection.
    • With the radio on, check the AC voltage across the speaker inputs. Verify it’s getting the right signal.
  4. Wire and Connector Checks:
    • Examine the connectors, especially at the speaker or stereo. Ensure they are tight and secure.
    • If there are still issues, consider the possibility of a bad wire. In such cases, replace the wire ensuring it has proper insulation.
  5. Voltage Check:
    • Use a multimeter to check the AC voltage across the speaker terminals while the stereo is on. Typically, the voltage should be between 30-70 volts.
  6. Fuse Inspection:
    • Locate the fuse box and examine if the fuse for the stereo system is blown. If so, replace it with a new one. Consult the car’s manual if unsure.
  7. Consultation and Replacement:
    • If you suspect a defective speaker, consider returning it to the store for a replacement.
    • If all else fails, seek expert consultation.

Remember, in most scenarios, especially for laymen, it’s beneficial to consult with a professional before taking action to avoid further complications.

Advanced Solutions ( For Experts ) –

Testing For Speaker Problems

If your speakers are only playing on one side, there is a high chance that the other speaker is defective. To start testing the problem, turn off your vehicle and the car stereo system before disconnecting the speaker wires for the two speakers (right and left) from the amp.

The easiest way to test this is to swap the left and right speakers. If, for example, the left side speaker is not working, you can:

  1. Connect the right speaker to the left amplifier output. If this works, then your left speaker is defective.
  2. Connect the left speaker to the right amplifier output (which you know works). If this works, then there is an issue with the connection on the left. If the speaker isn’t working, then the problem might be anywhere between the speaker itself and the amplifier. It could be bad speaker wires or any other component in the wiring connections.

Additionally, if your speakers have a passive crossover between each speaker and the amp, that could also be a problem.

At this point, you’ll need to take out the speaker from the door and use short temporary wires to test it on your amp.

That way, you can test the speakers and also check for bad wiring at the same time. That means if the speaker works with the new wires, then the problem is with your old wiring – in which case installing new wires will fix your problem.

However, if your speaker works when connected to the other amplifier channel, then the problem isn’t the speaker. In this case, you’ll need to turn off the stereo system and test the other components.

Finally, once you remedy the issue with the speaker and install it, ensure that you switch on the stereo and ensure that the balance is in the middle position.

Check For Continuity

If the car speakers are mounted inside the door panels, then the space where the wires go through between the door frame and the door can be a point of failure.

car door speaker issue continuity

Though the wiring harnesses are normally sealed with hard rubber sheaths for protection, they tend to break over time. That’s mainly due to repeated stress when closing and opening the doors.

That said, you may want to check the continuity of your wires with the door open and closed.

If the wires lack continuity, then that means you have a broken wire somewhere. However, if you notice continuity to the ground, then you have a shorted wire, and that might be the cause of your problem. Nonetheless, you still need to test other components if the wires are alright.

Ruling Out An Amplifier Problem

If your speaker isn’t blown, you’ll need to check your amp too. For example, some amps go into protect mode when the volume is turned up. Otherwise, you need to check whether the amp channel is bad, especially if all the speakers are connected to one amp.

To do that, put each speaker to its respective channel – the right speaker to the right channel and the left speaker to the other one.

Keep in mind that the vehicle stereo should be switched off while you’re connecting the wires.

Once the speaker wiring is back to its original configuration, remove the RCA cables from the amp and switch them. That means the right cable should be hooked to the left input and vice-versa, before turning on your car stereo system.

If the right speaker still doesn’t work and the left one does, then you can start to suspect that the problem is with your amplifier.

That’s because you have eliminated the components before and after the amplifier. As such, if the problem was going through the right side of your system, then it should have shown on the left side when the cables were switched. In this case, have a professional repair technician check the amplifier.

If your right speaker is working after the switch and the left one doesn’t, that indicates the problem is anywhere before your amp.

It also shows that the problem lies along the right side of your system as the problem changed with the cable switch. The problem could be the cables or other components in the right channel. Switch off the stereo and plug the RCA cables into the original configuration.

Testing The RCA Cable Connection

For any components between the head unit and the amplifier, follow these steps to test each. In our case, only a crossover is present, so we’ll only need to do this once.

Start by checking the RCA cables connecting the intermediate component with your amplifier. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  • Unplug the RCA cables from the component’s output
  • Plug the working speaker’s RCA cable into the non-working side of your car’s crossover. In this case, the left channel is the working side so plug the left RCA cable to the right side of the crossover.
  • Turn on your car stereo system

If the left channel keeps on working, then you should know that the RCA cables between the crossover and the amp are the problem.

However, if the left speaker is no longer working, then the problem isn’t the RCA cables. You can verify this by switching off the audio system and plugging the right RCA cable from your amplifier to the left RCA output of your crossover before turning on the stereo again.

If the RCA cables are not damaged, then you’ll have audio output from the right speaker. You should also ensure that you don’t skip the verification process as it’s possible that the problem exists in the cable and other components.

Additionally, make sure you turn off the stereo and restore the original connection of the RCA cables after you’re done testing.

Checking For An Equalizer Or Crossover Problem

Whenever you find yourself in a situation where one stereo speaker is not working, it is important that you set the correct crossover and phase on your subwoofer.

At the intermediate component’s input (the crossover in this case), interchange the RCA cables – the right to the left input and vice versa – and switch on the audio system.

If the left channel continues working and the right channel doesn’t work, then the intermediate component is the problem. In that case, consider repairing or replacing the component.

If the problem shifts to the left speaker and the right speaker is now working, then that shows the crossover isn’t the problem. In that case, consider checking the components before the crossover. But first, turn off the stereo and fix the RCA cables to the original configuration.

Testing The Head Unit

Most people will easily conclude that the speaker is the problem if the head unit is turning on fine, but they don’t get sound from any of the speakers.

However, that’s not always the case. The fact that your head unit is switching on doesn’t indicate that it’s working properly.

For that, you’ll need to do some tests to rule it out. But before you do that, here are some things you’ll want to do:

  • Verify that your head unit is not in the anti-theft mode which requires a vehicle radio code
  • Test different audio inputs such as CD player, radio and auxiliary input, to name a few
  • Check the fade, pan, and volume settings
  • Check for unplugged or loose wires
  • Test any onboard switches

How To Test The Head Unit

Start by taking out the head unit from your dashboard to get access to the RCA cables.

After that, unplug both cables from the unit and be careful not to disconnect any other wires. Take the left cable and plug it into the right channel of the unit and turn the system on.How To Test The Head Unit

If the left speaker is still working, then the problem isn’t in the head unit. That shows the problem is in the cables connecting the head unit with the intermediate component (if your car has one) or the amplifier.

You can confirm that by switching off the stereo system to unplug the left RCA cable and plug in the right RCA cable to the left stereo output. The speaker will not give any output, indicating that the RCA cable is faulty.

However, if the left speaker stops working after plugging it into the right channel, then your head unit has a problem.

You should confirm this by switching off the stereo, unplugging the left RCA, and fixing the right RCA cable on the left output of your system.

The right speaker should start working when you turn on the audio system, but if it doesn’t, then it shows you have a faulty RCA cable and a spoilt head unit. That’s rare, but not entirely impossible. If the head unit is faulty, you can easily pick up a good one here.

FAQs

How Can You Tell if a Car Speaker Has Been Blown?

One of the easiest ways to tell if a car speaker has been blown is by listening.

If you turn your music up in one direction and it sounds distorted, there’s a good chance that the speakers have gone bad.

Another way to detect this issue is when trying to call someone on Bluetooth or through CarPlay while driving.

Neither connection will work because only one side of the audio system needs power for them both to function properly.

Additionally, clicking noises are often heard when opening doors, turning off/on lights inside of the vehicle, starting the ignition, etc.

This also indicates blown speakers on at least one side.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Car Speakers Fixed?

It will cost between $500 and $1,000 to replace your existing speakers with a new set.

The most common cost range for car owners is $300 to $800. A good-quality audio system might cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 more than a high-performance music system.

Are Speakers Worth Repairing?

Yes, some speakers are worth repairing while others aren’t. Some speakers are worth repairing if their sound is only slightly distorted.

But others aren’t because of the amount that would have to pay for speaker repairs or how difficult it could be depending on what needs repairing.

Why Are My Car Speakers Only Playing On One Side Using Bluetooth?

It’s possible that you mistakenly set the balance on your Bluetooth device to the full-right position or full-left position.

If this is the case, you’ll need to make some adjustments to the Bluetooth connection on your phone to resolve the problem. To do this, go to Settings>Bluetooth and switch it back to left-handed mode. If you are using a stereo, just adjust the balance to the middle.

If you’re still having this issue, likely, that your car speakers are not compatible with Bluetooth. To fix this, you’ll need to either switch your car speakers over to using stereo mode or pre-pair them.

Why Are My Car Speakers Only Playing On One Side Using Aux?

It may be because you have set the balance on the stereo to the full right or full left position. In this case, set the balance to the middle. On the other hand, it may be because your car speakers are not connecting to your Auxiliary Output.

If your car speakers don’t connect to AUX, they will not play sounds from those other devices. You can fix this issue by disconnecting the aux cable from your audio system and reconnecting it again.

It may also be because the other side of the aux audio jack is broken. If one of your Auxiliary Audio jacks isn’t working, it means that either one or both of your AUX ports are broken.

This can be a considerable inconvenience, as you’ll need to find a way to plug in your headphones and listen to music from your car stereo on the other side of the aux cord.

Why Are My Driver’s Side Speakers Not Working?

It may be because you have set the balance on the stereo to the full right or full left position. In this case, set the balance to the middle. It may be because there is an issue with your speaker wire or there is a bad connection.

Your speakers can be damaged by the constant movement of the car or just mishandling. It’s important to remember to connect your speaker wires properly to get the best sound from your car.

Make sure that you have the correct speaker wire and connectors for your car to fix this issue. Next, test the speakers by plugging them into an audio source and see if they work. If they don’t, it means they need to be replaced.

If they do work, it means that there’s an issue with your car stereo system. Your speakers may be damaged or there may be a problem with the balance setting or connections.

What is The Car Speaker Fuse Location for the Car Radio?

For most cars, you will find the fuse panel at the side of the driver’s dashboard. You can also find it under the dashboard or beneath the vehicle hood.

Why Are the Right Side Car Speakers Not Working?

It may be because you have set the balance on the stereo to the full right or full left position. In this case, set the balance to the middle.

Sometimes, this is due to a problem with the speaker itself, but other times it may be due to a problem with the audio connection. In either case, it’s essential to investigate the issue and find out what can be done to fix it.

There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot and fix your right-side car speakers:

  • Make sure you’re using the correct type of speaker for your vehicle. Some vehicles have two different types of speakers – one on the front and one on the back. Make sure you’re using the correct type of speaker for your vehicle.
  • Check for any obstructions in your audio system, such as dust, hair, or other debris. Sometimes these objects can cause sound problems when played back through a speaker.
  • Try changing out the audio cable if it’s been damaged or has had too much use. This can help fix any audio issues that may be happening with your speaker system.

Why Have My Front Car Speakers Stopped Working?

One possibility is that the speaker drivers may have been damaged. It could also be that the audio system was not correctly installed or checked when it was new.

A defective circuit board can also cause your front car speakers to stop working, and in some cases, permanently.

If you have a circuit board defect in your front car speakers, you may not be able to hear the music or sound from the speakers. Additionally, if you experience any feedback or problems with the audio, you may need to replace the entire speaker assembly.

If any of these factors are true, you should contact a professional to check out the speakers and see if they need to be replaced.

Why Is My Car Speakers Not Working But Subwoofer Is?

If the speakers in your car are not working but the subwoofer is working, this may be due to the following issues:

  • The amp is not getting enough power
  • RCA cables are not connected properly
  • Speaker wires are not connected properly

To learn more, check out our article on why my car speakers are not working but the subwoofer is working.

Conclusion

So there are fixes whenever you find your car speaker not working on one side. These fixes will also work when the front car speakers are not working.

There you have it, that’s the troubleshooting procedure that most technicians use to fix the stereo system whenever such a problem occurs.

It may require some time and a few basic skills, but it’s worth a try if you don’t want to take your car to a technician. However, you should consider calling in a professional audio expert if you still can’t diagnose the problem after following the testing procedure above.

 

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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. 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