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How to Test Car Speakers: A Complete Guide

Testing car speakers to see if they work correctly seems like a complicated task.

However, if you break it down into a few smaller steps, you’ll see it’s not as hard as it looks. So, how to test car speakers? Let’s find out.

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The easiest way to test if car speakers are functional is to use a 9V battery. If the speaker’s cone moves, the speaker is working correctly. Another way to test car speakers is to measure their impedance, resistance and voltage using a multimeter.

As an Amazon Associate, ImproveCarAudio will receive a small commission from qualifying purchases made through the links in this article.

Tip: Testing car speakers do not require any special tools. All you need is a 9V battery and a multimeter (links to Amazon).

Using a 9V battery also allows to quickly check the polarity of the speaker wires or terminals.

In this article, I will explain in detail how to check and test car speakers.

Examine Car Speaker Wires

Your best course of action is to test your speaker wires before testing your car speakers. This will save you from going back in case you find errors in your speakers for further troubleshooting.

To test your car’s speaker wires, you need:

how to test car speakers

Analog Voltmeter or a Digital Multimeter

These tools are must-haves among mechanics and car enthusiasts alike. However, if you don’t have one of these already, you can find some on Amazon at relatively affordable prices. Some examples are AstroAI Digital MultimeterWaterwich Waterproof Voltmeter, and Linkstyle Car Voltmeter.

Analog voltmeters are a bit outdated since they utilize needles to give you outcomes, but some people still prefer them. Voltmeters are exclusively for measuring voltage, while multimeters measure voltage, resistance, and currents. You can stick to a voltmeter if you’re not planning on measuring other things, but a multimeter will serve you in many ways if you’re a car enthusiast.

Of course, before the start, you need to ensure everything is switched off to prevent short circuits. Short circuits often result in blown fuses, which are easily repaired by replacing the fuses.

However, there may be other times when bigger damage occurs from short circuits, such as internal speaker component damage. When this happens, you may need to replace the speaker itself.

Detach Your Wires From the Car’s Speaker Box 

You can do this by following one of two things.

  • First, you can twist two connectors clockwise, and it will release the wires.

The suitable method depends on your car’s model and the speaker itself.

Separate Your Wires From the Amplifier or Receiver 

Similar to the methods above, you can do this in two ways: pressing on clips or twisting two connectors. Again, the method you need to use depends on your car speakers and your car model. You can find the wires on your amplifier or receiver’s rear.

Design a Closed Circuit With Your Wires

Once your speaker wires are detached from your speakers, amplifier, or receiver, you can proceed with creating a closed circuit. You’ll use this circuit to conduct a continuity test. You can find out more about continuity tests and performing them with multimeters in this YouTube clip by GalcoTV:

Designing a closed circuit for this purpose is easy. Simply tightly twist your end wires together, but don’t twist them too much so that they’ll still easily separate from one another later.

Prepare Your Voltmeter or Multimeter

You can skip this step if you’re using a multimeter since it doesn’t require calibration. However, if you’re using a voltmeter, you have to calibrate it. 

To prepare your voltmeter, start by turning it on and then selecting the ohms setting necessary to assess the wire resistance by placing the selector to the position of Ohms.

Scale Your Multimeter or Voltmeter

You need to ensure that your multimeter or voltmeter is accurate instead of faulty. To do this, usher your black and red leads together. You should get a result of 0 ohms to confirm that your tool is working properly. If your multimeter or voltmeter shows any reading different from 0 ohms, it’s faulty. 

Check out Clyde Lettsome’s detailed YouTube tutorial on repairing a digital multimeter for some guidance:

Test Your Car’s Speaker Wires

After finishing all the necessary preparations, you may now test your wires. To do this, nudge the red and black probes on your circuit’s open-end using your voltmeter or multimeter. If your wires possess no damage, your voltmeter will display a level of resistance. 

Meanwhile, if your wires are cut or damaged, you’ll notice an infinite resistance result on your tool. However, if you’re using a multimeter, it should show “OL” or Open and produce a constant tone. You will need to repair your speaker wires or replace them if they show signs of damage.

Check Car Amplifier for Damages

Sometimes, you may think your speakers are broken when it’s actually your amplifier that needs repairs. Damaged amplifiers produce distorted audio, which some people blame on the speakers. So, to check your car amplifier for damages, you need to:

  1. Examine your fuse. Figure out where your fuse box resides by checking your owner’s manual. Then, use your multimeter to place your multimeter’s red lead to one of the fuse poles and your black lead to another. Your multimeter will beep if your fuse is functional. So, if no beeping sound occurs, you can affirm that your fuse has a problem.
  1. Examine your capacitor. Set your multimeter to test capacitance and connect your multimeter’s negative and positive leads to the corresponding positive and negative capacitor terminals. 

Your tool should display a reading that almost matches your capacitor’s ratings if your capacitor is working in an optimal capacity.

So, you tested your wires and amplifier, and it produced satisfactory results. You’re now ready to proceed with testing your car speakers. To inspect your car speakers for problems or to see if they’re working well, you can utilize the following four methods by yourself.

Physically Examine Your Speaker

You can’t claim you tested your car speakers if you don’t physically examine them first. Use your eyes to check for possible visible damages, such as loose wires, wobbly cones, or broken components. You may also feel around the cables for tiny cuts that you may fail to notice when observing with your eyes.

Manually Listen to Its Sound Output 

You can figure out if your speakers are faulty by listening to their audio output at appropriate and optimal volumes. An output that shows a lack of range means your car speakers need proper equalization.

Meanwhile, crackling or rattling noises on your audio signify distortion. Lastly, muffled sounds denote blown speakers. When this happens, you need to isolate your car speakers by utilizing the facing or panning option to figure out which of the speakers broke.

Perform a Test Using a Battery 

You’ll need to unmount your car speakers for this method. When you use the battery to test your speakers, you should hear a popping sound to indicate it’s working correctly. If you don’t hear any, your speakers are damaged.

You’ll often notice that people pick 9-volt batteries to test their speakers, but some may also opt for 12-volt batteries. If you’re unsure about how to proceed with this, visit YouTube to watch Sound Speaker Repair’s clear clip about testing speakers with a 9-volt battery:

Perform a Test Using a Multimeter 

To do a multimeter test on your car speakers, find the part of the wires where your speakers fasten. Then, place the multimeter there. An infinite reading indicates damage, while a reading of 1.0 ohms attests to your speakers’ normalcy.

If you need a visual guide on testing your car speakers with a multimeter, watch this YouTube clip from Audio Talk:

Ask a Professional for Help 

You can always take your speakers to a more experienced person to ensure its proper testing. This works best if you’re clueless about car things or you already did some tests with little to no luck in seeing acceptable results. People with experience in dealing with speaker problems may offer you valuable insight and save you from stressing over your car speakers.

Common Car Speaker Problems, Causes, and Quick Fixes 

You’re testing your car speakers for two reasons: you’re trying to diagnose a problem, or you’re thinking of buying those speakers. So, knowing the typical car speaker issues and their quick fixes will help you a lot and save you time, especially if your speakers are already there and are not returnable. 

Blown Speakers

Blown speakers occur from various causes: 

  • You can misuse your speaker by carelessly and continuously listening to audio beyond optimal volumes. This results in thermal and electrical failure, which damages your speaker’s voice coils. When this happens, you end up with speakers that produce gritty sounds.
  • Your car speakers can receive too much power. This can happen when you’re using the wrong wires, or you installed the speakers incorrectly. Alternatively, it can also occur from heat buildup that melts your speaker components’ binding glue.
  • Internal materials can loosen up and blow your speaker. As you travel, there’s a chance of loosening your car speakers’ components and stressing them out, which causes damage that result in blown speakers.

To figure out if your speakers are blown, watch out for these signs:

  • Hissing, fuzzy, and distorted sounds
  • Speakers that don’t produce vibrations

The easiest way to fix blown car speakers is to replace them with new speakers rather than repair them. However, you may also commence on a do-it-yourself session where you remove all the speakers’ components, clean the speaker itself, and place new voice coils and cones in them. 

Here’s the step-by-step guide for this quick fix:

  1. Detach the speakers from your car using a screwdriver.
  2. Disconnect all the plugs attached to your car speakers.
  3. Use a knife to remove your speakers’ worn-out foam surround.
  4. Use the same knife to detach your speakers’ glue, voice coils, and cone from the units.
  5. Clean your car speakers using a soft cloth.
  6. Replace the voice coil and cone with new ones.
  7. Add glue to seal your new parts on the speakers.
  8. Replace the surround you took out with a new one.
  9. Glue the new surround to ensure it stays in place.
  10. Reconnect all the speaker wires before placing the speakers back into the car.
  11. Screw your car speakers into their spot.
  12. Test your speakers.

Disconnected Speakers

Disconnected speakers result from wear and tear. They often happen when wires, cables, and internal speaker components loosen overtime or get subjected to misuse and abuse.

Signs of disconnected speakers are:

  • The inability to produce sounds
  • Audio that keeps getting cut off
  • Speakers that feel glitchy

To fix constantly disconnecting speakers or speakers that don’t produce any sound:

  1. Check your car speakers’ cable connections.
  2. If you find loosely attached cables, fix them.
  3. If you don’t notice any loose wires, check for cuts or damages.
  4. Use electrical tape to patch up small scratches within the cables.
  5. Replace your car speakers’ cables if the damages they possess are too big.

If the cables aren’t your problem, your car speakers’ polarity may cause audio disruption. When this happens, you need to reconnect the speakers’ polarities properly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Speaker Testing

You learned all about car speaker testing. You also gained more knowledge about two common car speaker problems, their causes, and their quick fixes.

However, if you’re still left with a couple of questions, in this section, we’ll answer typical questions people ask when it comes to testing car speakers.

What Are Some Great Songs to Test Your Car Speakers With?

If you can’t think of songs to test your speakers with, here are some recommendations:

  • Boom Boom Pow by Black Eyed Peas correctly tests if your car speakers can accurately produce powerful bass beats.
  • Rock that Body by Black Eyed Peas allows you to check if lyrics are still clearly comprehensible despite a persistent and loud bass beat.
  • No One by Alicia Keys can examine if your speakers can display clear vocals over wide background music.
  • Blue Jean Blues by ZZ Top offers a smooth guitar solo that tests your speakers’ stableness while you’re cruising.
  • Royals by Lorde surround you with electronic bass to check your sound quality.

What Is Speaker Polarity?

Speaker polarity essentially determines whether the speakers’ terminals are connected properly or not. So, if two positive terminals and two negative terminals are attached, respectively, it results in incorrect polarity. 

However, if they’re reversed, it results in incorrect polarity that causes destructive interference. This results in sound cancellation, which displays bad quality audio or no audio at all. On the other hand, note that using only one speaker may give you an unnoticeable outcome, so you may not notice the reversed polarity if that’s the case.

How Do You Test Your Speakers for Polarity?

To test your car speakers for polarity:

  1. Obtain a 9-volt battery.
  2. Attach a speaker wire to the battery’s positive terminal.
  3. Attach another wire to the battery’s negative terminal.
  4. Observe the movement direction of the speakers.
  5. If the speaker moves inward, the speaker wire attached to the battery’s terminal is the positive wire. Meanwhile, if it moves outward, the positive wire is attached to the body’s positive terminal.

If you prefer watching video tutorials, check out Sonic Electronix’s YouTube clip about speaker polarities and how to test for them:

What Should I Do if My Speakers Are New but Distorted When I Turn the Volume High?

If you don’t find any other problems with your car speakers during testing, your wisest decision is to obtain a bass blocker set. They’ll guard your speakers against distortion by acting like high-pass crossovers. Speakers smaller than four inches work well with 600 Hz bass blockers, while speakers larger than that need 800 Hz bass blockers.

How Do I Obtain Sharper Highs and Great Stereo Imaging?

If you’re using factory car speakers, you’ll find that they produce lifeless and dull sounds. This is because most of them utilize dual-cones, which consist of a paper Whizzer that produces high frequencies. 

So, to achieve sharper highs and excellent stereo imaging, obtain some tweeters. They create ultra-high frequency notes that impact your audio’s overall realism, which renders your music’s specific timbres to a great quality.

Which Car Speakers Are the Best Car Speakers?

You tested your car speakers and didn’t like the results. Your next step is to buy new speakers. The best car speakers in the market at the moment are:

  • JBL GTO Coaxial Speakers, feature 3-ohm speakers, a dedicated 12dB octave, a dual-level tweeter volume adjustment function, and large, carbon-injected cones.
  • Rockford 3-Way Co-Axial Speakers, which suit you if you’re on a budget and trying to upgrade your stock car speakers: featuring polypropylene cones, an integrated tweeter crossover, and a silk dome Piezo tweeter.

Final Thoughts

Testing car speakers may seem like a complicated task, but it’s doable for beginners. To test car speakers, start by checking your wires and amplifier. Then, physically inspect your speakers, listen to their audio output, and do a battery or multimeter test.

If the test results show no signs of damage, yet you somehow feel something is wrong with your car speakers, it’s best to contact a professional for help. However, you may also opt to conduct more diagnostic tests and try a few quick fixes to see if they do the trick.