Everyone loves to hear lovely music in their car while on a road trip. On the other hand, in the same way as the other electronic equipment, car radios can break or get damaged. When this happens, the first thing we often ask is how much does it cost to repair a car radio? Let’s find out.
In general, the cost of repairing a car radio varies from as low as 50$ to 300$. The least complicated repairs, like fuse replacement, will cost up to 10$ if done DYI, and most complex electrical or LCD screen repairs can go up to 300$.
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Tip: The best way to quickly find out if your car stereo has an electrical or connection issue is to test its wiring using a digital multimeter that will show you the result with a fraction of the second.
The best that I found and have been using for years is the AstroAl TRMS6000 which can measure not only all electrical parameters, like resistance or voltage but also the temperature. This can be handy if you suspect that your stereo is overheating.
In the article below, I will show you the most common problems with car radios and will direct you, how to get rid of these problems quickly and without ruining the wallet.
Can Car Radios Be Repaired?
To be very clear, you cannot repair a car radio if there is a fault in the integrated circuit or IC unless you are an expert. Having said that, there are some things you can still do to repair a car radio.
- To check the speakers, put your car radio in CD or Bluetooth mode and see if the sound is coming out of them.
- Make sure that your car stereo volume is turned up and it is on radio mode, and you must tune the radio to a specific station. This point may sound silly, but it’s worth mentioning.
- Check the car antenna whether it is elongated or not. These antennas can get easily damaged when the car is washed.
- Check for blown fuses or any naked short circuit visible in the wiring.
How Do I Test Car Radio?
To test your car radio, you need equipment like a speaker, power supply, etc.
Most but not all car radios use standard color coding of wiring, making its installation and potential troubleshooting easier. Below is the list of color coding of car radio:
- Red – turns radio ON with +12V from the ignition switch.
- Black – Ground wire
- Yellow – radio memory and main +12V power
- Blue or Blue white – 12 V remote output from amp or power antenna
What Equipment Do I Need to Test Car Radio?
- Spare car, home, or other speakers – ideally, if their rating is 4 ohms. You can use any rating above 4 ohms as long as you are sure it is working correctly.
- Regulated AC or DC Power supply of 12 V, 1 A. You can also use the car’s battery for testing or supply in your desktop CPU can also be used.
- Electric tape to avoid short-circuiting of loose wires.
- Cutting pliers or wire strippers – For removing wire insulation.
How to Test Input Terminals of Car Radio?
If you are using a car’s battery, then carefully clamp the terminals of the battery. Next, connect the battery’s positive terminal with the red wire of the car radio and the battery’s negative wire with the black or ground wire of the car radio.
Be careful that wires should not touch each other, and the radio’s body should not touch the battery to avoid short circuits.
If the radio is working correctly and other stereo functions are also working, then your radio input is OK.
How to Test Output Terminals of Car Radio?
Most of the car radio has IC (integrated circuit) amplifiers which provide power to speakers. If the speaker is not working correctly, then the internal amplifier or circuit is faulty.
Most of the speakers use the following color coding, which is the standard for all producers:
- White – Front left (+)
- White Black – Front left (-)
- Grey – Front right (+)
- Grey Black – Front right (-)
- Violet – Left rear (+)
- Violet Black – Left rear (-)
- Green – Right rear (+)
- Green Black – Right rear (-)
Connect the speaker wire with the car radio output and make sure that they are properly insulated. Next, play music from the radio and other sources if you use them, like CD, Bluetooth, etc.
At this stage, you can adjust fader and balance to check each output channel individually.
If your radio output is good, then the sound will be coming out of the speakers. If it does not produce any sound, then there is a possibility that the internal IC is short-circuited.
Should I Repair or Replace Damaged Car Stereo?
Since 1929 radios are installed in cars, and nowadays, due to modern technology, the internal circuit of radio has become more complex.
The easiest way to answer this question is that if the repair costs you the same or near the replacement cost, it’s better to replace the damaged car stereo. Repairing car radios is most beneficial for the expensive or unique radios, where the replacement can be difficult or even impossible.
Can I Repair Car Radio at Home?
As technology is becoming more and more advanced, car radios are becoming complex. Unless you are a trained technician, you may be struggling with repairing the car radio at home.
Most car radios have integrated circuits that include elements like amplifiers, capacitors, resistors, etc. It’s not easy to find fault unless you understand the working of each component.
However, there are some simple things that you can check and repair your car radio at home.
Check for Blown Fuses
To check whether your car radio fuse is blown or not, go to the instrument panel near the dashboard, or you can refer to your car’s manual to find the location of this panel.
The car fuses can be located at various locations like under the hood, trunk area, or behind the dash. If you don’t have the car manual, download it from the internet.
When you remove the fuse panel cover, the panel’s interior has a diagram that tells you the exact location of the car radio fuse. Take out the radio fuse and see if the filament is attached. If not seen correctly, use a flashlight to detect the blown fuse.
If the fuse is blown, then the filament is broken in the middle. Replace the blown a fuse with the new fuse. Make sure you buy the fuse of the same rating as mentioned in the manual.
Fuses for car radio are the same as for the rest of your car. If you do not have any spare fuses at home, check out my favorite set Nilight – 50014R with 140 fuses ranging from 2A up to 40A.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Car Radio Fuse?
It takes about five minutes and 1$ to DYI replace a fuse. This will save you the trip to the mechanic and another $20 for the replacement.
However, if the fuse blows repeatedly, there may be some other fault for which you have to go to a mechanic.
Check Car Radio Wiring
This part is quite complicated because the car radio wiring passes through various parts of your car. However, one simple thing that you can do is to check the wiring with the naked eye and see if you find any physical signs of a short circuit like a burning smell, flickering lights, or metal on the wire.
Turn off the car and then wrap that wire with electrical tape so that it becomes insulated.
Another and my preferred method to check faulty wiring is by using a multimeter. It’s easy. Just turn the multimeter knob to “continuity,” which is indicated by a small microphone symbol.
To ensure that the multimeter is working correctly, join metal parts of two leads together, and you will hear a beep. Take two wires and now place red lead on the wire and black lead on the second wire.
If the multimeter beeps, then the current flows, and the circuit is closed.
What Is the Cost of Checking Wiring on a Car Radio?
A good multimeter will cost you around 25$, and if you find the fault, it can save your trip to a mechanic and a couple of more dollars for the entire inspection.
After performing this test, if the problem persists, you need an expert mechanic to troubleshoot the fault in the wiring.
What Are the Most Common Car Radio Repairs?
Below you will find the most common car radio issues that can affect the normal functioning of your radio:
One of the most common reasons why car radio is not turning on is blown fuses.
The purpose of the fuse is to break the electrical circuit when a high voltage surge occurs. In other words, fuses protect our car radio from damage due to electric surges.
Short Circuit in Wiring
Wiring connects all audio components from a power source to fuses, radio, amplifiers, speakers, and even your steering controls, etc.
The main cause of the short circuit is that the audio system is not installed correctly. If your fuse blows away after a shorter time, then there is some problem with the wiring.
Tuner or Antenna Problem
Anything from solar flares to tall buildings can adversely affect your radio signal. This is because the car antenna amplifies the signal in the first place.
The main cause of the antenna problem is improper wiring between antenna and radio. Due to a short circuit of wiring, the signal is not reaching the radio properly. Another cause is that the car antenna is not extended correctly or damaged, for example, in a car wash.
No Sound From Car Speakers
Sometimes you may encounter that your car stereo is working correctly, but no sound comes from the speaker at radio and CD mode.
This issue may be due to a short circuit of wiring, loose connections, malfunctioning of the amp due to overheating, or your speakers are defective.
Car Radio Is Not Turning On
The radio of your car will not work correctly if there is a problem with the power source. No power, no music.
The main cause of this issue is improper wiring, blown fuses, damaged antenna, or the radio is not being grounded properly. If the radio, for example, turns off at a bump, then the chances are that connectors are loose.
Anti-Theft Technology in Radio
Many radio manufacturers use this technology to prevent stealing car radios, but sometimes this function activates itself and makes your radio useless until a specific procedure is followed.
This is indicated on the radio display. Therefore, your radio display is different from the normal one.
The main reason for activating this function is when the battery is disconnected from the car. It can also happen when the battery dies, or the radio is removed from the vehicle. You will need to enter an anti-theft code to disable this mode and return to the standard functionality.
These are some common issues that can occur in your car radio. This helps you know the root cause of radio malfunctioning, and accordingly, you can plan for repairs.
Are Car Stereos Covered Under Warranty?
Like any other consumer products, also car radios come with the manufacturer’s warranty.
A JL Audio, for example, provides a 90-day warranty of their products if installed by an unauthorized or by yourself.
However, if you install the same product at their authorized dealer, the warranty is extended from one year to two years.
If your vehicle is new, it will most likely be covered under the bumper-to-bumper warranty, which covers everything, including car stereos.
Suppose any damage occurs to your car stereo. In that case, it can be replaced by the company itself, provided the stereo is not connected to a product not approved by the manufacturer.
If you are using a used car or purchased a vehicle from a dealership, make sure to read the documents and things included in the warranty.
Many people use an extended warranty that covers the normal function of the car, but some of them exclude internal components. For example, since damage to the car stereo does not affect the car’s normal functioning, it is not covered in the extended warranty.
Many authorized dealerships can provide you with a counter return of your damaged product. In addition, they can ship products directly to you after some days.
If you have a newly installed car stereo, then the warranty offers vary from dealership to dealership. Keep your warranty car at a safe place as it is the company’s policy to provide compensation for your car radio repairs only if you have a warranty card.
Now you have learned everything from troubleshooting to repair costs to common faults that can possibly cause an interruption in your listening experience.
With this knowledge, I hope you will not fall into the trap of extra costs for repairs or replacement parts.