How to Fix a Car Radio that Loses Preset Stations?

If your car radio loses preset stations, there is a good chance that the problem is with the wiring.

Radio Loses Preset Stations

This can be a frustrating issue, but it is not an issue with the head unit itself. So, you can fix it in your driveway pretty easily.

In this blog post, we will walk you through the steps necessary to fix the car radio losing preset stations issue.

What Causes Car Radio to Lose Preset Stations?

Generally, after removing the key from the ignition, the radio should memorize the last station that was on. So, when you come back again and run the stereo, you could tune the same station right from the start.

However, if the presets are not being stored, or if they are being lost after the key is removed from the ignition, you will experience the radio not playing the station that you were playing before turning the ignition off last time.

99% of the time, it’s the issue with the yellow and red wire being swapped while installation which causes the radio to lose preset stations.

However, there are a few other things that can cause this problem:

A loose wire

This is one of the most common causes of car radio losing preset stations. Over time, the wires can become loose and dislodged from their connection points. This will cause the signal to be interrupted and will result in the loss of presets.

Corroded wires and Damaged Wires

Another common cause of this problem is corroded wires. If there is corrosion on the memory wires, it will interrupt the signal and will cause the loss of presets.

If the wires are damaged, they will also be unable to send the signal properly and will cause the loss of presets.

Improper Ground Connection

If the ground wire is not properly connected, it can also cause the car radio to lose preset stations.

How to Fix Car Radio Losing Preset Stations?

Now that we know what can cause this problem, let’s take a look at how to fix it.

Find Wiring Harness

Remove the car stereo from the dash enclosure.

You should start the troubleshooting process with the wiring harness at the back of the radio in your vehicle. Find the red and yellow wires from the harness.

Check Constant and Switched 12-volt Wires

Now, take a multimeter to check the wires. If you don’t have one, we recommend this AstroAI Digital Multimeter.

The yellow wire coming from the harness should have 12-volt constant with the ignition turned off. And the red one should have 12 volts as well but only when the ignition is on.

Many people do the mistake of swapping red with yellow when installing aftermarket radio and cause the issue in question. However, in some cars, the role of the wires is in reversed order. That means red works as constant 12 volt and yellow as switched 12-volt.

Swap Red and Yellow Wires on Car Stereo

To solve the issue, you need to ensure that the wires are perfectly connected, not flip-flopped. Read the owner’s manual of the car and the user manual of the aftermarket radio to properly connect the wires. Plus, double-check the ground connection.

If you find out that the wiring was done in reversed order, swapping red and yellow wires on the car stereo should solve the preset stations losing issue.

Alternative Ways

The above-explained method should work in almost all cases. If you are still facing the issue, the first step is to check all of the wire connections and make sure that they are secure. If any of the wires are loose, you will need to tighten them.

Finally, if there are any damaged or corroded wires, you will need to replace them. Once you have replaced the damaged wires, your car radio should no longer lose preset stations.


These are the steps that you need to follow to fix a car radio that loses preset stations. By following these steps, you will be able to solve the problem and get your car radio working properly again. Thanks for reading!

We hope that this blog post was helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Thanks!

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