Basic Car Amplifier Troubleshooting Guide

By Seth Wilde. – Product Specialist

It can be really discouraging to install a car amplifier only to have it not work.  For those that have been there and done that, you will know what I’m talking about.  This includes pulling apart your car, running the wires, building an amp rack, and fully installing the amplifier.  After all this work, you go to listen to your new audio system and nothing plays.  After checking the connections to make sure they are all proper, where do you go from there? Every once in a while, the cause of this problem is the amplifier itself.  For a variety of reasons, it is deciding not to work or function properly.  There can be many reasons why your amp is not functioning properly and in this blog we will discuss a couple of those reasons.

Amplifier Does Not Turn On

When the amplifier does not turn on when the vehicle is turned on, the first place to look is the connections.  Make sure that the power, ground, and remote turn-on cables are properly connected.  Another common problem is the fuses. Not having a fuse inserted in the power cable from the car battery can be the cause of the amp not receiving power. Once all connections have been verified, if the amplifier is still not turning on it could be defective.

Amplifier Does Not Have Any Audio Output

When the amplifier is turning on but still has no output, the common problem is at the source.  This means that there could be a bad channel in the stereo or a bad RCA connection.  Test this by using an extra pair of RCA interconnect cables and connecting them to a different source and see if there is output. Sometimes the lack of output is because of the speakers.  Try connecting the amplifier to an external speaker that is not installed in the car.  If there is audio from the external speaker and not the car’s speakers, we can determine that the problem is with the car speakers.

There are many more reasons why an amplifier is failing to work or function properly.  Some of these reasons include: the amp going into protection mode, clipping problems, distortion, background noise, crackling, overheating, and more.  For a full guide on troubleshooting amplifiers, visit Sonic Electronix’s Knowledge Base article, Car Amplifier Troubeshooting.  There is a wealth of information there, as well as throughout the entire Knowledge Base section of the website.