Car Stereo Won’t Turn On With Ignition [SOLVED]

Car stereos are a staple in most cars. They can play music, give directions, and even let you know when it’s time to buy new tires. But one problem you might be having is that your car stereo won’t turn on with the ignition.

Car Radio Won't Turn On with Ignition

If you’re dealing with this issue, read on for a few tips on fixing it.

Why Car Stereo won’t turn on with ignition?

There are a few different reasons why the stereo won’t turn on with ignition. Causes are as follow:

The car battery is dead:

When the car battery is dead, your stereo will also be slow. To get it working again, you need to learn how to jump-start your car or connect it properly if you already have a new battery.

Besides that, there’s not much to be done regarding a dead battery other than replacing it and being careful to keep this issue from happening again.

The Amplifier isn’t working:

The amplifier is closely connected to the stereo. So if your car stereo is not working, it could mean the amplifier is faulty. We have a separate article on amplifier issues and fixes, you can check that out to solve the issue with the car amplifier.

With old cars, the wiring harness gets damaged over time and causes circuit corrosion/failure. If this is the cause, you can have your wiring harness fixed or replaced by a technician.

The stereo has a fuse that needs to be replaced:

If there’s something wrong with your fuse and you have yet to learn how to replace one by yourself, take it into an auto shop, and they will replace it for you. However, fuse replacement is one of the easiest tasks you can do. So, try first before going for a paid technician.

However, if you inspect the positive wire and find burn marks that tell you an issue with the power supply line, then splicing in a new automotive wiring harness is probably your best option.

These can often cause problems with stereos, in particular, because each channel or device (radio channel or device) may have its card in this panel, and even if everything else seems fine, all but one will still blink when power is applied.

Ignition Switch Issue

The problem can pop up due to the ignition switch malfunction as well. So, it is better to check the ignition switch if all the other things seem to be working fine.

Initial Diagnosis

The first step in diagnosing the problem is switching on your car stereo without the ignition. If it works, then you know your issue lies in something else other than the stereo. 

You can also test if your battery needs replacing. Performing a “battery and ground test” on your vehicle by car battery will rule out an issue with the battery or anything attached to it.

If that test doesn’t reveal any issues, check the fuses in your fuse box.

The second step is to try and reset your car stereo by removing the fuse located in the fuse box of your vehicle. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to fix the problem.

How to Diagnose and Fix:

If you want to diagnose your car stereo yourself, there are a few steps you can take to figure out whether or not it’s a wiring problem or a fuse problem:

Check for blown fuses:

Open your fuse box and check all of the fuses with a test light to see if one of them isn’t working. Fuses blow out pretty often due to electrical surges. So, you should start from here every time an issue pops up.

I recommend using a multimeter to check if the stereo is getting enough power or not. If not, the fuse might have blown away. Simply replace the blown fuse with a new one to solve the issue.

Allow time for the stereo to initialize after fixing before evaluating whether this was successful or not.

Wire or Connector Failures

Inspect wiring harnesses and connectors. Any loose, disconnected, cracked or broken wire can cause the stereo to not turn on as you ignite the car engine.

While it’s hard to inspect the whole wire from the battery to the stereo, you can simply check the voltage reading at the connection points to see if the voltage is okay or not. If that’s okay in one end of the wire and not good on the stereo’s side, you know that the wire has some issues in between.

Check fuse holders for heat damage

If one of your fuse holders has three melted sections across it, you’ve got a short somewhere that is causing current flow through the holder instead of around it. 

This lets excess power run through other areas of the wiring system, causing them to overheat and eventually melt.

Check your car instrument panel fuse

Many non-electrical issues with a stereo can be traced back to this low-power fuse located near your dashboard. If something seems off, try replacing it with a current 15 AMP SPD fuse and see if that fixes the problem or not.

Power cycling/replacement is needed every eight months to 24 hours based on temperatures of radio components, battery percent, etc.

If you find out that it’s just a lousy fuse causing the issue, you can buy fuses easily online or in some stores like Walmart!


Now that you know what are the reasons behind the car stereo not turning on after the ignition, you can easily fix the issue by following the steps mentioned above.

If you happen to have the problem coming back again, I recommend getting your car checked for any internal issues.

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