The way that your car stereo is wired impacts the performance and longevity of your speakers. When wired correctly, you can listen to your favorite music at the highest volume with no problem.
However, if you have ever enjoyed your favorite jam at top volume and been interrupted by speakers cutting you, it can be extremely frustrating. Luckily, there is a solution to that annoying problem!
Why Do Car Speakers Cut Out at High Volumes?
If you are experiencing speaker short-outs when playing music or the radio at high volume, that most likely means that your stereo wiring needs adjustment or that your car audio components need repairing or replacement.
Why It Happens: A Closer Look
There are a few common causes for this issue. Most of these causes have to do with faulty wiring connections from the head unit to the power source, the amplifier, or the ground.
A secondhand or modified car with speaker issues may indicate a poorly performed wiring job. However, over time, the stereo wiring can sometimes come loose naturally.
There may also be issues with speaker impedance, which is the ohm compatibility between the amplifier and speakers. Having overpowered speakers can also result in shorts, so it is best to have wattage-compatible audio equipment.
The speaker issue may also be the fault of a blown speaker, which often emits static sounds or resistance more noticeably when the audio is louder. If your speaker blew out, a complete speaker replacement might be necessary.
Determining and Fixing the Issue
First, turn off your car. Gently remove the head wiring unit (also called the receiver). Keep all the wires connected. Thoroughly check to make sure each of the wires is firmly attached, undamaged, and not crossing or overlapping with other cables.
Most speaker short issues arise from voltage problems. Be sure to inspect the black, red, and yellow wires carefully. These wires connect the car battery and ground to the receiver.
Turn your car back on to assess whether the issue is resolved. If adjusting the head unit wires does not resolve the problem, the cause may be the amplifier or the speaker itself. You will need to perform some tests to determine the problem.
Identify which speaker or speakers are causing the issue. Do this by turning off your car and accessing the head wiring unit. Unplug each of the green (left rear speaker), purple (right rear speaker), white (left front speaker), and grey (right front speaker) wires one set at a time, and then turn on your car each time and listen for irregularities.
Once you have identified the faulty speakers, there are several possible solutions.
Test the Amplifier Channels
Access the amplifier, noting two values: the watts RMS value and the impedance (resistance) ohms value. Make sure that there is no overlapping or damage to the wires.
Perform another test using the left and right amplifier channels. Remove all speaker wires and then test the left and right speakers using only the left amplifier channel and then the right channel. If you hear irregularities when using one amplifier channel versus the other, then the amplifier is most likely the problem and should be replaced.
Check the Actual Speakers
If the amplifier channel test did not solve the speaker issue, then the speaker itself could be problematic. Remove the speakers from their position, ensuring that the wires are fastened and undamaged.
Examine the watts RMS rating on the speakers and verify their consistency with the amplifier rating. For example, a 100 watts RMS amplifier should be paired with four 25 RMS speakers. If the watts RMS are not compatible, the speakers could be experiencing overpower, causing shorts.
Review the Impedance Value
In addition, each stereo or amplifier recommends a speaker impedance value. For example, an amplifier’s instructions may suggest pairing it with 4-ohm speakers. If your car speakers have an impedance value under that recommendation, your speakers will likely have issues with higher volumes.
If you have verified the wattage RMS and impedance compatibility of the amplifier and speakers, the problematic speaker may be blown and need replacing.
If you follow all of these steps, you should be able to determine the cause of your car stereo issues when at high volumes.