What to Know When Upgrading Your Car Audio System

May 1, 2020

Things don’t always go to plan with car audio upgrades. Reporting from the frontline, our car audio Brisbane technicians know what to look out for…

1. Car radio not working
There’s plenty of wiring underneath your car’s dashboard. Some of this wiring connects your car radio to power, some of it to the speakers. If a problem were to happen with this wiring, your radio may be silenced.

There are also fuses to protect against damage from power surges. If the relevant fuse blows, your car’s audio circuit breaks and your radio is silenced.

Ground connections can be another car radio problem.

• Radio dead – wiring problem or blown fuse
• Radio intermittent – loose wiring, power or ground connection problem
• Sound & display intermittent – not enough power to head unit

Sound Garage technicians would check wiring, fuses, ground connections.

2. Head unit power problem
When your new head unit repeatedly cuts out, it points to inconsistent 12 volt power to the unit. It might also be a case of the unit slipping into protection mode because the power load is unsafe for the amplifier.
Sound Garage technicians would check your car battery and that 12 volts is consistently available to the head unit. If not, the power wire could be changed. If all is good with these, indications suggest the problem is with the head unit.

3. No bass
When bass response is poor, the usual cause is that the speakers are out of polarity — one speaker is pushing air while the other is pulling air. Another possible reason is that the new speakers demand more power than the speakers they replaced.

Bass is lacking at any volume level.
We would check whether the positive (+) terminal of the speaker is wired to the positive (+) terminal of your audio component. Likewise the negative (-) connection. If power is insufficient for the speakers, Sound Garage would recommend an amplifier or head unit upgrade.

4. Unwelcome noises
The most common of the many unwelcome noises over car audio is Alternator whine — the noise you hear fluctuating with your revs. Generally this results from bad grounding. Less commonly, it could be caused by poor connection between audio system and battery, or even by the car’s charging system being in bad way.

Other annoying and unwelcome noises we fix at Sound Garage include:

Accessory pop: Caused by a voltage spike when accessories draw current. Suspects include headlights, indicators, wipers and brakes.

Snap, crackle and pop: Caused by poor quality input, a bad radio connection or by a faulty component.


At Sound Garage, we fix alternator whine by re-grounding, securing connections, and correcting charging system faults.

To combat accessory pops, we would insert a capacitor between the accessory producing noise and its ground.

For speaker pops and crackles, we’d check the input source and the speakers, repairing or replacing components as needed.

5. Grounding to a halt

Many audio problems are caused by poorly chosen ground points. We mentioned alternator whine earlier but a poor ground can cause an amplifier to cut in and out. With an unreliable ground, the amp may not pull the needed current.

Don’t be fooled thinking the negative battery post would make a good ground for your car audio. Considering what’s attached, this ground point invites noise from everything. Clean, bare chassis metal makes the best point for grounding.

It’s easy to get your car audio needs sorted by the professionals at Sound Garage.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also be interested in the upgrade mentioned in our previous article: Sygic Navigation app for Apple CarPlay/Android

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