One of the most annoying things that can happen to your sound system is when car speakers got wet and stopped working.
I decided to do some research and write an article about the reasons of how can car speakers get wet and how to fix this problem.
Car speakers can get wet when they are exposed to humidity or moisture for a long time. Another reason for car speakers to become wet is water inside of the door that can drip in the gap between the voice coil and a magnet.
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Tip: Car metal panels are not always properly sealed and sometimes you can find a lot of water in the car speakers. If you want to protect your car speakers from dripping water and moisture, and at the same time save money on new speakers, check out the best speaker baffles on Amazon.com now.
In both cases, not just speakers can be damaged, but also other elements of the car audio system are at risk, so Let’s find out more about water in speakers and how to deal with this.
How Car Speakers Get Wet?
When water enters the speaker, it can cause a lot of trouble or even damage a car’s sound system. There are a few ways of how your speakers can get wet.
- Water coming through a door can damage any door speakers. When your door window seals are worn, there is a chance that a sizeable amount of water can drip inside of a door, causing not only potential rust problem but also can damage the speakers. Especially when your car’s door does not have any protection panels inside, water will drop directly from the side window or window trails, over a speaker’s magnet and voice coil.
The same can happen when you visit a car wash, where is a lot of pressure that can push water inside the door. It happened to me once a few years ago, when after replacing a side window on the passenger side, I went to the car wash. Water came inside, and a speaker has gone in no time, it was so frustrating.
- Humidity is another reason for car speakers to get wet. Especially vulnerable for moisture and humidity are speakers with paper cones. If you often drive a car when it rains, and AC is not working effectively, cones can easily soak over time water from the air.
This is a slow process and, in many cases, unnoticeable, but high humidity can eventually destroy sensitive parts of the speakers. Wet edges of the cones can tear even when they look dry, and if you listen to the music in the car a lot, it can take just a few weeks before they will beak.
If you listened to the same speakers, one dry and one with a wet cone at the same time, you would tell the difference in the sound right away.
However because this process takes time and your ears slowly get used to hearing a lower sound quality, so day to day difference is actually unnoticeable. Well, at least until the cone will eventually break.
Are Car Speakers Waterproof?
Typical car speakers are designed for use inside of a car, they do not have any special sealing, so even splashing water on them can cause damage. Also, speaker baskets are not always made from stainless steel and can get rusty.
Unlike marine speakers, for which producers use the highest quality materials that can handle a lot of water, car speakers are not waterproof and cannot work in such harsh conditions.
Components of car speakers are generally made from basic materials like paper or rubber, which can easily tear when used in a humid environment. So, if you are thinking about installing car speakers on a boat, do not do it. Car speakers in wet conditions will not survive.
Will Wet Speakers Affect Sound Quality?
A wet speaker cone increases its weight and thus becomes slower. It is not a big difference in weight, because the paper cone does not gain the weight to be comparable with the metal cone, but it is enough to affect the sound quality.
The heavier the cone, the heavier the delay to every signal coming from the voice coil and, in effect, makes the sound less dynamic. The music you hear from a wet speaker is muffled and tones are not sharp.
The dried cone will weigh the same as the original one, and the sound quality will return to the original level. It can happen, though, that after drying, the paper cone will change its stiffness or become bent. And when this happens, sound quality will also be affected, especially the clarity of the medium-high tones, like vocals.
The most audible difference is when the paper membrane dries and breaks after some time. The sound you will hear from the speakers with a broken cone is horrible and has nothing to do with music.
The only thing you can hear is the fuzzy sound, distortions, and crackling, so you need to either repair the speaker or replace it with the new one depending on the size of the damage.
If you would like to learn how to repair a damaged speaker’s cone, I wrote a short article about it, so check it out.
Can Wet Speakers Damage My Car Audio System?
Although there is not much risk to damage the car audio system from a wet speaker cone, a much higher probability is when the water gets between a magnet and a coil voice.
Because there is not much sealing in the car speakers, nothing is stopping water from penetrating their insides, and when you turn a radio on with water inside of the speaker, then you will have a quick short circuit followed by silence.
What is the short circuit? According to PhysLink.com, a short circuit is “a low resistance connection between the two conductors supplying electrical power to any circuit.”
And what does it mean in practice? Just imagine one wire from the positive terminal in your car amplifier and one from the negative terminal, they are usually both connected to the speaker, but what if there is no speaker and they touch each other? This is exactly a short circuit, and when it happens, it can damage your amplifier or the radio.
There are several reasons for car speakers to be short, and water is one of them. When you do not hear anything from the speaker, you have to dry it first, and then it is worth testing it for impedance.
Good speakers have impedance either 2 or 4 ohms, but when you measure it, and the result is very high or even infinitive, which means your car speaker is dead.
How Can I Protect Car Speakers From Water?
Unless you drive in the desert, water is present in the car for the whole year, but it condensates when the temperature drops. Instead of continuously using cleaning cloth in the car, you may need to eliminate the moisture problem in your car.
Below are few simple steps which will help you protecting car speakers from water without much effort:
Check the cabin filter
The cabin filter is used to clean the air that enters the car outside, and it is crucial to keep it spotlessly clean. The cabin filter requires regular replacements unless you have one that can be washed.
When the cabin filter is dirty, the air circulation in the car is disturbed and this filter should be replaced. I am cleaning mine every few months, it takes like 10 minutes, and I know there is no dust in the car.
For my cars, I use Bosch HEPA filters that guarantee fresh, dust, and moisture-free in the cabins. Recently I purchased this one for my Ford Edge and I am always happy with the choice.
If you would like to ensure no moisture in your cabin, Bosch HEPA filters are available on Amazon, so click this link to check the latest price.
Check drain holes
Inspect the whole car and make sure the drain holes are not blocked. You can find them in the following places in your car:
- At the bottom of the doors
- In the door sills,
- In the sunroof
- Beneath the windshield
- In the trunk area.
Unblock drain holes if they are filled with mud and debris to get rid of the water in the car.
Keep the door seals clean
Remember to regularly clean and lubricate the washers and window rails to stop accumulating dirt in these areas. Clean seals do not crumble over time, so clean them regularly, and you will reduce the risk of water dripping over the door speakers. After washing a car, put on them a thin layer of silicone lubricating compound.
To prevent door seals from drying and crackling I use “Gummi Pflege Stift“. This lubricant adds a quality layer to the rubbers that extend their lifetime. It is available on Amazon, so if you want to protect your door seals with something really good, click this link and check the most recent price.
A good way to get rid of the condensed moisture is to ventilate the car, regularly and also to clean the floor mats and upholstery. Fresh air will help water to vaporize.
Check the air conditioning and make sure the AC filter is clean
Properly working car air condition will not only keep the temperature at a set level but will also dry the air in the car.
Install Speaker Baffles
Speaker Baffles are great to protect the back of the speakers from any water damage. Baffles are formed foam covers that can be installed in your car within minutes. They cover entire speakers are from any dripping water in the door.
Important thing is to cut a hole at the bottom of the baffles to make room for the speaker wires. You can use small scissors or a knife to do it but do not make the hole too large. The hole will also guarantee free airflow around the speaker and will prevent the sound from being too flat.
You can choose baffles from the selection of the various sizes that will match your speakers. I have added baffles to my Ford Edge in addition to the sound deadening the door and I can sleep well knowing they will cover my speakers from any dripping water. If you would like to add baffles to your car, you can find them on Amazon. Click this link to check the recent price.
Add moisture barrier
A moisture barrier or plastic foil installed in the door will prevent speakers from contact with moisture. It is also easy to install, even in a DIY way. Plastic foil, however, can cause odd noises coming from the speakers, especially those with strong bass, but it is still a good solution to keep car speakers dry.
Remember, however, before you will start sealing the door in your car, make sure there is no water in them, and a vehicle is dry inside.
Cover speakers with High Gloss Polymer.
This is an easy way to improve the water resistance of the speakers, especially for speaker cones. To apply it, take speakers out of the car and spray a thin layer of the polymer over them from both sides. Let it dry, and then put covered speakers back to the car.
How to Fix Car Speakers That Got Wet?
When car speakers get wet, the first step is to remove them from the car and wipe the water off using a dry, soft cloth. Good for this is fiber cloth.
The next step is to put a speaker on the towel and let it dry. It is good to blow hot air over a wet speaker using a hair drier. Especially backside of the speaker and magnet should be thoroughly dried.
Can I Fix a Wet Car Speaker?
It is possible to fix wet car speakers, but in most cases, the cost of the repair may be too high, so it is better to buy new pair of speakers, especially when speakers in a car are factory equipment, but this is an individual choice.
Most of the repaired wet speakers are expensive hi-end models, and they are being repaired by professional service. Otherwise, sound quality after repair may be worse.