Car Stereo Cuts Out When The Volume Is Turned Up (SOLVED)

Norvan Martin
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It’s common to run into an annoying problem where your car speaker cuts in and out, especially at high volumes. In this article, we will discuss why your car stereo cuts out when the volume is turned up and what can be done to fix this problem.

There is almost nothing worse than rocking out to your favorite music after a long, hectic day at work, only to be rudely interrupted by silence. Having speakers cut out at high volume is an issue that most drivers with older or poorly-made car stereo models will come across.

The main reasons car speakers or stereos cut out at a high volume are amplifier, wiring, and crossover settings issues. Additionally, some speakers are not designed to handle certain high volumes and may cut out when overpowered.

Car Stereo Cuts Out When The Volume Is Turned Up

This mostly happens with some of the newest, best stereos. It is essentially the stereo’s way of protecting itself from extensive damage and can be caused by a myriad of issues. Use the checklist below to perform a process of elimination and find the cause.

Speakers Cutting Out When the Volume is turned up

The most common cause of a car stereo cutting out when the volume is turned up is the amplifier going into protect mode due to an overload or other issues mentioned in the table below –

Common IssuesPotential CausesSuggested Solutions
Speaker Impedance IssuesImproper wiring, Mismatched speakersCorrect wiring, Use compatible speakers
Too Many Output ConnectionsAmplifier overload due to excessive speaker connectionsAdhere to amplifier's speaker limits, Upgrade amplifier
Amplifier Going into Protect ModeHigh power demands, Inadequate electrical systemMonitor voltage, Enhance the electrical system

1. Speaker Impedance Issues 

Causes:

  • Wiring Multiple Speakers Together: Increasing the volume on multiple improperly wired speakers can quickly overload the system due to reduced impedance.
  • Mismatched Speakers: Turning up the volume on a system with mismatched speakers, like a large woofer in a low-power setup, can cause the system to exceed its power limits.
  • Shorted Speaker Wires: When the volume is increased, a short can become more pronounced, causing the system to cut out.

Solutions:

  • Check Wiring Configuration: Ensure speakers are wired correctly and in a configuration that the amplifier can handle.
  • Use Compatible Speakers: Make sure you’re using speakers that match the amplifier’s power and impedance specifications.
  • Inspect and Repair Damaged Wires: Check for any shorted or frayed wires and replace them as necessary.

2. Overheating

Cause:

  • Increased Heat with Volume: As the volume increases, amplifiers work harder and generate more heat. Without adequate ventilation, they can overheat and shut off to protect themselves.

Solution:

  • Improve Ventilation: Ensure the amplifier has enough airflow. Consider adding cooling fans or repositioning the amplifier to a less confined space.

3. Amplifier Going into Protect Mode

Causes:

  • Voltage Demands at High Volume: Loud tracks, especially with heavy bass, require more power. If the voltage dips too much, the amp can go into protect mode.
  • Weak Electrical System: As volume increases, deficiencies in the electrical system, such as a weak alternator, become more evident.

Solutions:

  • Check Voltage: Regularly monitor the voltage at the amplifier during high-volume play. It should remain stable.
  • Strengthen the Electrical System: Upgrade components like the alternator or add a capacitor to stabilize voltage during high demand.

4. Too Many Output Connections

Causes:

  • Amplifier Overload at High Volumes: Increasing the volume with too many speakers connected can overwhelm the amplifier, causing it to cut out.

Solutions:

  • Limit Speaker Connections: Ensure you’re within the recommended limits of your amplifier or stereo system.
  • Upgrade Your Amplifier: Opt for a stronger amplifier if you want to power more speakers without issues at high volumes.too many connections stereo turns on and off

5. Incorrect or Improperly Installed Wire Gauges

car stereo wire gauge stereo turns on and off

Causes:

  • Inefficient Power Transfer at High Volumes: If the wires are too thin, they might not be able to handle the increased power demand when the volume is raised, leading to system cut-outs.
  • Loose Connections: When the volume is turned up, vibrations can exacerbate loose connections, causing intermittent audio or system cut-offs.

Solutions:

  • Use Appropriate Wire Gauges: Ensure wires are thick enough to handle the power demands, especially at high volumes.
  • Secure All Connections: Check for and tighten any loose connections to ensure consistent audio output at all volume levels.

Car Radio Turns Off And On While Driving – Causes and Solutions

1. Alternator, Amplifier & Voltage

If your car radio turns off and on while driving, then the most common culprits are often the alternator, amplifier, or a voltage issue.Car Radio Turns Off And On While Driving Cause

When dealing with circuits within an enclosed space, you must always take into consideration the voltage consumption of all the gadgets connected to a power unit.

In some scenarios, the reason the stereo might cut out could be due to the alternator not providing enough charge to the batteries.Alternator, Amplifier & Voltage car stereo not turning on

This means that the stereo will cut out because there isn’t enough power supply. Coupled with an increase in volume or bass, this will cause more energy to be drawn quickly.

The more power drawn toward the deck, the quicker the voltage drops. This causes the power to cut off, and when the current draw has stopped, the voltage will rise again, creating a cycle.

Solutions: Using a voltage meter, you can record the amount of power that is being drawn. A reading below 11.5 volts will signal a possible power failure of the batteries. Usually, running diagnostics on this issue will produce results where each measurement cuts out at a lower volume every time a new reading is done because of the dropping battery levels.

#1: Suspect this is the case? Then a heavy-duty alternator and battery might be required to maintain a stable supply of power, especially if there are other gadgets connected to the supply. It isn’t necessarily both. The amplifier might just not be capable of keeping up with the power demands, or maybe there are too many power-sucking gadgets connected.

#2: If you are on a tight budget or just want a quick fix, then try adjusting the frequencies and bass settings lower so that the power withdrawal is more balanced.

2. Poor Soldering Of Ground Connections & Head Units

During production, wire connections are usually soldered or twisted and then taped together in place.

In some cases, a wire might require tightening, preceded by resoldering or using butt connectors to secure the wires. This, however, might require slight stripping of the wires beforehand.car stereo not turning on grounding problem

Other issues with grounding can be linked to a short somewhere within the stereo, especially those that have pre-installed circuit fuses within the head units.

The issue arises when a blown fuse is still capable of conducting electrical contact within the circuit, causing irregular performance. Poor grounding can also disable the amplifier’s ability to pull power, which is another source of cut-outs.car stereo wiring issues

Other issues with grounding can be linked to a short somewhere within the stereo, especially those that have pre-installed circuit fuses within the head units.

The issue arises when a blown fuse is still capable of conducting electrical contact within the circuit, causing irregular performance.

Solution: To determine if a blown fuse is the cause of your issues, first switch off the power supply. You will need a multimeter set to ohms (electrical resistance) and testing leads.

Next, use the testing leads of the multimeter to tap against the metallic fuse caps and record the reading.

If you receive a reading, then the issue is most likely not a blown fuse. However, if there isn’t one, then the fuse has blown. If your fuse has blown, then you will need to simply find a suitable replacement and recalibrate the system.

 

Speakers Cut Out Randomly Cause

1. Overheating Of The Power Unit

The stereo unit and power supply draw power and generate heat, which increases when listening to the stereo at higher volumes and for extended periods.car stereo overheating stereo cust out randomly

This means that if the stereo deck doesn’t receive enough airflow, then the amplifier will cut out. Defective wire connections tend to be the major cause of why stereos overheat.

Solution: To solve this issue, open up the deck and check the wires, ensuring that the wires are in their respective places and not crossing over. If some are out of place, then resoldering or retaping may be necessary.

How Do I Stop My Speakers from Cutting Out?

Turn off the A/V receiver’s Audio/Video (A/V) stereo receiver. Check to see if the speaker wires are correctly plugged into the speakers and the A/V receiver.

Turn off any electrical equipment in the area that may be interfering with the speaker sound. Remove any electrical cords from within a three-foot range of the speaker.

Why Do My Speakers Keep Clipping?

When more power is required from an amplifier than it can provide, clipping occurs.

When the maximum amount of power supply voltage has been reached, it becomes impossible to boost the incoming signal without causing changes in its shape.

This means that the signal is amplified but in a very distorted form.

Why is My Car Stereo Smoking?

If your car stereo is smoking, then it’s a problem with the right channel pre-amp or output stage and not with your power supply.

If your speaker wires (or speaker) appear to be shorted on one side, you should inspect them for a potential short.

Wrap Up

Having your speakers cut out at high volume is certainly an annoying problem. It can also be time-consuming to solve given that a car stereo turning on and off repeatedly may be due to several different reasons.

But who wants their speakers to cut out randomly? Solving the issue is not straightforward even for smaller gadgets such as car stereos, and a process of elimination to determine the cause will be necessary.

If you are unfamiliar with resolving the issue yourself, then have it serviced by professionals. Better yet, if your car was bought new with the stereo unit and is still under warranty, then take it back to have it looked over.

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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