Top Reasons Why Your Speakers Aren’t Working

Car Audio Troubleshooting

Speakers wear out all the time. Whether it's age, wear, overuse – there's many reasons why your speakers break. This is especially true with lower quality OE (original equipment). First thing to do is check if your speakers are blown. But regardless of the equipment that you have in your vehicle, there's typically two approaches to consider when you're trying to diagnose why your car speakers aren't working:

  1. All speakers aren't working
  2. Some speakers aren't working

Depending on whether or not all of your speakers are working or only one or two speakers aren't working will significantly change the way you begin to diagnose your problem. In this article let's discuss both, and what you should look for in both scenarios.

All Speakers Aren't Working

If all of your speakers aren't working, odds are the problem ISN'T you're speakers. When all of your speakers no longer work, the problem is likely the source of your audio, or the power that the speakers rely on. Here's a few things to look at:

  1. Amplifier – Do you have an amplifier? Many vehicles today come built-in with amplifiers, or you may have had an aftermarket one installed. There's a few items to check with your amplifier:
    1. Power – Check if the amplifier has power. In some cases, there's an indicator light that'll tell you if it does have power. For OE amplifiers, you may need to use a volt meter to check that there's power to the amplifier. If there's no power, start by checking your fuses.
    2. Limp Mode – This only applies to aftermarket amplifiers, but you'll want to look at the indicator light and ensure that it's not showing that the amplifier is in limp mode. If it's in limp mode, it may indicate a larger problem with your amplifier or with your wiring in general. Look at your amplifier's manual to identify what the indicator light means first.
    3. Output – If your amplifier has power, and isn't in limp mode, check the output to the speakers. You will most likely need to do this with a volt meter.
  2. Source – By source, we mean your head unit or whatever is providing the source of your audio. If your amplifier checks out, this is the next thing to check. There's a few items to look at when you're checking your head unit:
    1. Power – Is your head unit turning on fine? Run through all of your sources on your head unit (e.g. CD, Bluetooth, Radio, etc). If the speakers don't work for all of these sources you know there's a deeper issue.
    2. Fuses – Check fuses for your system. Your vehicle's manual will outline each fuse and what the fuse is responsible for. You'll be looking for things like “stereo” or “accessory”.
    3. Loose Wiring – If it has power, and the fuses are good you may need to pull the head unit to check for loose wiring. But before you do this, ensure that your unit doesn't have a security code. If it does, make sure you have it handy! Pull the head unit, wiggle some of the key wire harnesses and turn on the stereo to check if the speakers are working.

Some Speakers Aren't Working

If only one or two speakers are not working, this is different than when all speakers aren't working and you'll want to diagnose it differently. There's a few things to look for when you're trying to diagnose your problem when only a few speakers aren't working. But first, ask yourself:

  1. Which speakers aren't working? – Are two speakers not working? If so, are they on the same side? Questions like this may indicate that your head unit settings may be muting certain channels of speakers. For example if your ‘balance' setting on your head unit is all the way to the right, your left speakers will be shut off.
  2. How did they stop working? – Was it gradual or suddenly? If it was gradual, this may indicate that it's an issue with the speaker more so than the source, amplifier or head unit settings. Check your speakers for wear.

Depending on the answers to the questions to these two questions, you may narrow your search when you begin to check some of the other key elements:

  1. The Speakers – Check the speakers for visual wear and tear. Check whether or not the cone moves when you're playing music.
  2. The Source – If a set of speakers aren't working, check the settings in your head unit. The balance or fade may have accidentally been change to only send audio to the left, right, front or back and might be the source of your problem.
  3. Wiring – This is the most time-consuming thing to check and we'd recommend this be your last option for diagnosing. You'll want to get a voltmeter and use the positive and negative leads to the speakers to check that there is power to the speakers. Check each speaker independently. If the voltmeter doesn't read any power, you've found a problem.
  4. Amplifier – In rare cases, if some of your speakers are not working it may indicate that your amplifier is going bad. Find the amplifier and check that there's power coming from each output channel of the amp. You can either use a voltmeter, or try switching the speakers that connected to the outputs, using a speaker that you know works for each channel to narrow down the problem channels.

Hope this helps! Let us know what you find in the comments section.