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Car Stereo Won’t Power on, But it Has Power

Driving, especially long drives, becomes more enjoyable with the company of some of your favorite music tracks. The car stereo unit makes it possible to enjoy soul-soothing and energizing music while you are on the steering wheel.

On the flip side, if you love music, a broken or faulty car stereo will be a dampener for you. You will not get to listen to your favorite songs on the go.

Well, your car stereo can break down. After all, it is a machine and may not work properly every time. Like many other electronic appliances, car stereos can also fail due to intermittent issues.

But, before you take your car to the nearest service center and get the car stereo repaired, take a step back. You can try a few methods and hacks to check and repair it once. If not, you can definitely take it to the repair station.

A car stereo gets its power from the battery. Therefore, if the battery does not work, the stereo may not work. On the flip side, even if the car battery works well, the stereo may have different problems.

Read on to know more about what to do when your car stereo does not turn on.

Car Stereo Won’t Power On, But It Has Power

One of the most common problems for a faulty car stereo is the bad wiring condition. For example, if the wire is damaged, old, or not connected properly.

Some car stereo models also have built-in fuses to protect these machines from sudden circuit problems.

You have checked the power sources of the car stereo. It looks fine. The wires are also in proper condition.

But, still, the stereo is dead and does not turn on.

Signs & Symptoms Of a Car Stereo Won’t power On, But It Has Power

But, you need to be sure about the problem before starting to check out hacks. Here are a few signs and symptoms that can tell you that the car stereo is not working despite having power connectivity-

  • The power wires or other wires that supply electricity to the stereo machine look These damaged wires will not be able to supply power to the machine. Hence, even if the battery has power, the stereo will not work.
  • Look for a blown out fuse connected to the car stereo.
  • The car stereo machine has a fully functional display, but the sound and the display screen turn on and turn off simultaneously. Probably, the car stereo is not getting enough power supply.
  • The alternator of the stereo is making a whining noise.
  • The studio system blips and makes incoherent noises while turning on or turning off.
  • The car battery is in anti-theft mode.

What Should I Do If My Car Stereo Won’t Power On But It Has Power?

Well, there are a few things that you can do if the car stereo has a power supply but does not work at all.

  • Check out the multimeter Ensure that it is set in Ohm settings.
  • Touch the metal caps of the fuse by using the multimeter’s testing leads. Check if it has a reading recorded. If the multimeter displays a reading, the fuse has blown. On the contrary, if there is no reading in the multimeter, the fuse is in the proper
  • Check out the ground connection. If this connection is rusty and loose, the ground connection needs to be replaced.

How Does A Good Car Stereo Work?

Here is how a car stereo unit works-

  • Most car stereo units run with DC or direct current output. That means these units get power directly through the car battery. You mainly use and see the head unit, comprised of the dials, buttons, and a touchscreen. It has all the wires, ports, and software, including AUX, USB, Bluetooth, and volume controls.
  • The stereo unit also has an amplifier that amplifies the signal from the head unit and increases the sound volume emanating through the speaker.
  • In most head units, a pre-amp is powerful enough to operate two speakers included.
  • The electronic signal is transformed into air vibrations or sound waves and comes into the speakers.
  • The head unit is also connected to the automobile battery, amplifier and antenna through different wires. The amplifier is also linked with the car battery and the speakers.

Reasons Of Car Stereo Won’t Turn On But It Has Power

Different reasons can cause the car stereo to not turn on despite having a stable power connection.

Here are a few possible causes that you also need to check-

1. Car Battery Is Dead

One of the main causes of the problem is the car battery itself. If the battery is dead, it will not offer any help. The battery may supply power a few times, but not enough to operate the stereo.

In some cases, the installation of a new battery that is incompatible can also be a cause behind it. Even if the battery has power, it is dead for the stereo.

So, check out the battery condition first. If your car has any other machines that get power through the battery, check that. Check out if the wipers or lights are working properly. If these are also not working, the battery is completely dead. You may need to install a new battery to get everything back to normal.

2. The Power Button Is Problematic

Probably, the main cause of this problem is the power button. If the power button is not working properly, the stereo will not turn on even if it has a proper power supply.

You can check out the conditions of the power button and other buttons by pressing them a few times. If the other buttons work, but the power button seems unresponsive, it is time to try something different.

Check out the car stereo manual book. This will have directions for turning the stereo on without using the power button. Use that method to check if the stereo is working. If it works, you need to replace the power button.

If you do not have the manual handy, look out for guidance on the internet. You will find plenty.

3. Fuse That Has Blown Up

Check out the condition of the built-in fuse of the stereo. Most of the time, these built-in fuses are placed on the back sides of the stereo. However, in some models, the fuses are located beside the power wire or the other wires.

Look for the condition of the fuse. For example, if the fuse is blown and the wire is melted, your car stereo will not work.

Take out the multimeter and a test light to check the condition of the fuse. Before you begin, ensure the tech multimeter setting is in Ohm. Now, check if the multimeter shows some reading. If there is a reading, the fuse is blown.

Hence, replacing this with a new fuse is better to make the stereo work again.

4. Wiring Error

Car wiring and the wires’ condition are among the most common reasons behind a faulty car stereo. The wire has probably become loose or damaged, hence the problem.

So, if you have tried all the options mentioned above, it is time to focus on the wiring, especially the pigtail connection. If you find the pigtail wiring in bad condition, remove it and replace it properly.

If your car stereo comes with an adapter that connects the factory wiring and the head unit, check out this whole system. First, unplug the whole wiring and then reinstall it to ensure nothing is loose.

It is better to leave the wirings or pigtails unplugged for ten to fifteen minutes before reinstalling these. This may solve the problem.

5. Improper Head Unit Wiring

The wiring is in good condition. But, most probably, the head unit wiring is the reason behind the stereo problem. In most cases, poorly connected head units cause the stereo to remain faulty. So, check out if the head unit wiring is in ideal condition.

You can inspect the ground to ensure the head unit is to look out for rust and the connection status. If there is no visible rust or loose connection, it is time to go for a proper inspection.

6. The Protected Mode Might Have Been Enabled

Does your car have an anti-theft mode? Probably it is the cause of the faulty stereo. The anti-theft mode is turned on often when the power is not applied to the car. It is used to protect the car stereo from being stolen.

If the anti-theft mode is on, it will ask for a retrieval code to turn off the mode. Follow the instructions to turn off the anti-theft mode.

7. Anti-Theft Security Measures

Most car radios with factory or stock systems have an additional anti-theft security measure to prevent the stealing of the stereo unit. The anti-theft security system turns on during the power outage and prevents the step from working.

A dead battery or loose wiring causes this mode to turn on in most cases. So, check out your car’s user manual to follow the troubleshooting instructions.

8. The Pigtail Connector Could Be Faulty

Your car stereo unit is in perfect condition, but it does not work. Well, maybe the reason is the pigtail wiring. The pigtail wiring is the multiple wiring network that connects the step to the battery.

It should be properly attached to ensure a seamless power supply to the stereo. The pigtail connector will have more than two lines, one of them being a ground line.

Use the bench test method and find if the head unit needs a replacement. Connect the power unit and ground leads at 12V, positive and negative. The yellow and red wires will have  12v reading with a voltage meter or a test light. The yellow wire will always have a 12V current, even if the car is turned off. On the other hand, the red wire only gives 12V reading when the car is on.

A head unit usually comes with six different wires. Hence check if each wire is connected in its respective slot. On top of that, double check the pigtail connector to check out the power condition.

If the power and ground units are both in good condition, it is time to get the head unit replacement.

9. The Power At The Head Unit Is Faulty

Tried everything, but still, nothing worked? Most probably, the power wires of the stereo are in bad condition. While one power wire is always out, the other only heats up with the ignition key. But, if their functions get inverted, the stereo will stop working.

If these power wires do not have any voltage, it is time to replace them.

What Should I Do If My Head Unit Loses Power?

The first thing you need to do is check the line supplies by using a voltmeter. It will have 12V reading at the voltmeter,

But, if the head unit does not have enough power, the reading will fluctuate.

But. The double-check, you can do either of the following-

  • Check if the head unit is properly Often the poor grounding causes the units to malfunction. You can also use a multimeter to check out the readings.
  • Try replacing the power line.
  • Look out for a blown fuse and replace it
  • Try to examine the battery physically
  • Look for rust and corrosion

Car Stereo Won’t Power On, But It Has Power Symptoms:

There can be different symptoms, including whining noise on the alternator, incoherent sounds in the audio units, etc.

But, the first and foremost thing that you need to do is get the stereo machine properly grounded with your car battery. If the system is larger and advanced, it will require a larger grounding unit. The car’s stereo unit usually has the chassis as the ground.

While grounding the whole stereo system, avoid it connecting with the negative battery post. This is because all the negative ripples of devices, like the alternator, pass from this post. Hence, your audio unit will also hear all the noise coming from such systems. This can cause the audio to malfunction, and you may even get some incoherent sounds while listening to a song or a podcast.

Test Your Head Unit & Replace It If Necessary

There is no activated anti-theft mode, nor the grounding is faulty. Then your stereo head unit is broken. You can replace it. To ensure the condition, you can perform a bench test and check if the power is 12V in both the positive and negative wires.

If the reading is right, get a new head unit. This will solve the whole issue.

The Stereo Has Deteriorated

Your car stereo has probably gone bad. Being an electronic gadget, it can become faulty and even malfunction. Older stripes also have a higher chance of getting faulty.

So, if the stereo looks old and faulty, it is time to visit your nearest car service centre to get a new stereo unit.

The local service centre expert will check everything and offer you the desired replacement. If there is a valid warranty, you will get a free replacement.

How Do You Repair A Car Stereo that Won’t Turn On, But It Has Power?

  • First, remove the stereo unit from its DIN position inside the
  • Now, extract the head unit from the mounting bracket. You can also use the car stereo removal tool kit to do this.
  • As you remove the head, you will find different wires and pigtails linked with it. Inspect each wire closely.
  • Check out if the harnesses and wire units are properly connected to the ground unit.
  • Now, get your multimeter and set it on DC settings.
  • After this, place the negative probe on the ground terminal and the positive one on the constant wire. Finally, check the stereo manual book to find additional information to locate the constant wire and the wires’ colour codes.
  • Now, follow the instructions on the multimeter and check if the wires give 12 V readings. If not, check the fuses through the multimeter and find what needs repairing or replacement.

Test 12 Volt Switch Wire

If the fuse has blown, use the 12V switch test to find the voltage and multimeter reading.

  • Find the switch wire first. It will be marked in either red or yellow. You can also use the wire indicators at the back of the stereo unit to find the needed wire.
  • Now, place the ignition in the right position with the key in accessory Besides that, place the negative probe on the ground and the volt with wire with the positive probe.
  • Check out the multimeter stats. If there is no reading, the fuse is blown, and you need to get a spade fuse to replace it. On the other hand, if the voltage is 12V, the unit is in proper condition.

Examine Ground Presence Of Device

You have tried everything, but still, the stereo problem persists. So, it is time to check out the ground presence of the stereo device.

  • First, find the ground wire that connects the stereo unit to the car. It is usually marked in black.
  • Next, check the status of the wire in a multimeter. Connect the positive probe with this ground wire and the negative probe with the ground terminal. If the ground presence is there, the multimeter will make an alarm sound.
  • If you do not hear any sound despite following each step, there must be an issue with the wires. If so, replace the damaged wires.
  • Check the fuse once. If it is blown, replace it with proper caution.


Before Rushing to the service station, you can use the methods mentioned above to find the reason behind a faulty stereo despite having a power connection.

If you have not found any such issues, you can visit the nearest authorized service center. You will find the right guidance there and may even get a replacement if needed.

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