What Causes a Car Amp to Clip?

What Causes a Car Amp to Clip?
What Causes a Car Amp to Clip?

What Causes a Car Amp to Clip?

Most people have been in the situation when they think that it is time to change their car amplifier because it is producing the sound that it is supposed to produce.

The audio system of a car can be complex and difficult to root out. Well, this is called clipping. When we turn up the volume of the woofer, the amplitude of the sound also increases.

Once the amplifier tries to intensify the signal beyond its capacity, the sound waves of the amplifier begin to square off and destroy the mood.

Clipping is known as a form of wave distortion that mainly occurs when the amplifier is overdriven or tries to achieve the voltage beyond its maximum limit. In this case, the car amplifiers usually lose their original sound smoothness and damage the loudspeaker. Clipping enters in amplifier through in the form of high-frequency energy that has damaged the tweeter through overheating.

There are many causes of a car amplifier to clip. Sometimes, you think that it is the battery problem, but the car amplifier also gets clipped even when the battery of the car is fully charged. The most confusing part of the clipping is the specific frequencies of the mid-bass range that consumes more energy than the normal mid-range frequencies. Sometimes, the amplifier gets clipped just because of the blown woofers and sometimes it gets DC instead of AC.

It is essential to understand all the causes and focus on them so that you could avoid car clipping. Along with the causes, we have also provided some solutions that can help you in avoiding car clipping.

Blown Subwoofers

One of the major reasons for the clipping of the amplifier is the blown subwoofers. Sometimes, you don’t even think about what is causing your amplifier to clip, and you have to bear the unbearable sound. In actual, you don’t understand that your subwoofers are internally damaged, which is also causing the amplifier to clip.

It certainly happens when the subwoofer moves less than the normal due to the various plateaus in the waveform. Sometimes, the subwoofer is not blown due to disturbance in wavelength, and it gets blows due to the over-powering when you try to get too much volume.

Too much power on the speakers can cause too much pressure from the magnets and excessive stress on the woofers, which usually results in the internal damage of sub-woofers and cause the amplifier to clip.


To avoid this problem, you need to match the RMS power of the subwoofers with the RMA power of an amplifier. I know it is a technical thing but you have to understand the concept of RMS power to avoid the damage of subwoofers. In this case, try to find an amplifier in the first place that has the RMS power equal to or slightly more than the subwoofers so that it can be avoided from getting overpowered.

Under Power Amplifier

Sometimes, the power of the amplifier is not up to the mark. In this case, the amplifier is unable to receive the specific frequency of the current due to which it clips.

You must understand that if the peak power of an amplifier is low or is maxed out, then it can cause clipping. Sometimes, the peak power of an amplifier is unable to generate so fast, and the signals get distorted. The problem usually indicates that the output of the amplifier is clipped and the voice loop is not aggravated.

You have to be careful about driving the speakers with low power as it can cause them to blow or clip. In this condition, the speakers of the amplifier usually get blown when you subordinate the capacity on the headpiece.

When the speaker of the amplifier is driven with low power, it boasts a lot of air to surge in the magnetic breach that pulls the cool air and expands the chamber under the dust crap. This situation causes a car amplifier to clip.


The best solution to protect your amplifier, in this case, is to use a little common sense. If the volume head of your amplifier can go up to 35, then you don’t expect to set it at 34 and not getting clipped.

It will get clipped because your amplifier is not as strong as you think it is. However, it also doesn’t mean that you are safe at 25. This depends on the control settings which you need to modify and listen carefully for the distortion and stress in case of clipping.


If your speakers can handle the volume more than the amplifier than there is no need to worry about clipped signals.

Poor Grounding of Amplifier

You should also know that a bad grounding of a car amplifier can also cause it to clip because the amplifier does not get what it demands. When we do not give the amplifier that it has demanded, then it would have no option other than running at lower volumes or dropping the sound.

In this case, the sound waves are not transmitted correctly, which clips the signals and destroys the sound coming from the amplifier. For example, to jump up your car at 25mph, you need to hit with the 60mph but it will not go any faster because there no more power to drive in it.

In simple words, you already use the power of the amplifier that is supposed to keep it from clipping. Sometimes, your decision to choose ground points is also not right, as the majority of audio problems result due to the poorly chosen ground points. You should understand that poor grounding can cause the amplifier to cut in and out.


As a solution to this problem, you always need to check the integrity of other connections, including the grounding connection of the car amplifier. You need to remember that the grounds of the amplifier should be on the car’s chassis.

Furthermore, I have seen many people who make the mistake of using the negative battery as a ground. I warn you that it is a terrible place for grounding as it can destroy the sound rippling through this point by inviting all the noise from these items.

Overheating can cause a Car Amp to Clip

Overheating is another major cause of the car amplifier to clip. The sound cuts occur when the amplifier gets too hot or a speaker wire becomes loose. You should know that the car amplifiers generate a lot of heat while playing the music in high volumes for a long time.

Sometimes, the amplifier also gets hot due to faulty wiring. In this case, the speakers are not wired correctly, or the separate wires are combined that results in overheating.

However, there is no such problem of a vehicle getting a little bit warm, because we have seen many electrical devices that usually heat up while using. But you need to understand that too much heat can be dangerous for your amplifier and vehicle because the heat can destruct the amplifier and even cause a fire.


The major solution for overheating is to understand the concept of airflow, where the amplifier is mounted. You should know that it is the airflow that keeps the amplifier cool all the time and prevent it from sudden cutoffs.

Furthermore, you also need to check the wiring and installation of the car audio system. If you don’t find any fault in the installation of wiring, then you need to take your car for a service.

New Head Unit has no Power

Sometimes, the power of the amplifier gets cut, the minute after installing the new head unit. The reason is that your new head is not receiving 12V of power and is causing the amplifier to clip.

However, sometimes the amplifier gets clipped because of the too much power produced by the alternator. You should understand that an amplifier cannot handle too much power, and it has to protect itself from damage.

The other reason for clipping could be the battery, which is unable to provide the amplifier with the constant voltage. In this case, you need to focus on the most common symptom, which is the head unit cuts out the audio power and then comes back after a while.


Tools Needed:

A voltmeter

In this case, you need a voltmeter to check the power in the head unit and confirm whether the wire is sending 12V to the head unit or not. If the wire is sending the right amount of voltage to car stereo, then there is no problem with the wiring system, you need to change your car stereo.

On the other hand, if the power wire is unable to send the 12V to the head unit of the amplifier, then you need to change the wiring and replace it with a good one.

Furthermore, you also need to look out for the battery that is sometimes empty and does not provide a specific amount of current to the wiring.

Team: Howstereo.com

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