You didn’t notice until one morning your car doesn’t start. There’s a new battery installed – but is it already drained? IT CAN’T BE!
Then you check to see what’s happening, and surprise…
It was the head unit all this time. It’s draining your battery even when the car is off. WHAT A PITY.
Luckily, you don’t have to stay that way. Here, we’ll show you what is happening, why that is, and how to fix car stereo draining battery.
Want to know what we have to tell you? Then take a look below to find out!
Can a Car Radio Drain the Battery?
Yes. When a car stereo, radio, receiver, or head unit drains, your battery is due to a process called “parasitic draw.”
This term refers to electrical equipment consuming electricity from your vehicle when it shouldn’t be (e.g., when the car is turned off or the equipment is not being used).
Among the many different pieces that could drain your battery, the stereo is one of the most common to cause a parasitic draw.
A parasitic draw can be fatal for batteries. Many times it happens with little to no notice, draining the battery slowly.
But in other cases, the parasitic draw happens ultra-quick, draining the battery at enormous rates and consuming a humungous amount of electricity.
When the equipment is draining energy, a battery can be totally drained within weeks or days of being installed.
How can you know when your battery is suffering from a parasitic draw? Here are some clear signs:
- Car struggles to turn on even when the battery is new (weeks or few months old)
- Excessive engine cranking when starting the vehicle
- Dim lights in the dashboard equipment as well as headlights
- Dashboard battery light turns on consistently
- Some devices stay on despite the vehicle being turned off
These are just the most typical. You may experience a few others, but they’re super-rare and won’t be connected to your head unit in that case.
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Why a Car Stereo Drain Battery?
The reasons are simple: car stereos need a battery to function. But there’s a catch.
The car’s battery doesn’t power up your car stereo when the vehicle is turned on. That means, as you’re driving the vehicle, the energy going to the stereo comes from the alternator.
Your battery doesn’t have much to do in that case.
This will give you an idea of why your car stereo may be draining the battery.
In most cases, it is because there’s a wiring issue, a bad radio fuse, an old or new stereo poorly connected, or an overpowered piece consuming energy even when off.
Apart from that, car batteries eventually lose their capacity to power up your car’s equipment.
When this happens, they slowly fade out and make it look like it’s your car stereo draining – when it’s not. It is the battery that’s faulty.
In any case, car stereos can drain your battery, and you should be well aware of what’s happening before replacing it entirely.
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Common Causes of Car Stereo Draining Battery
So, what is causing your car stereo to drain the battery? Here are some common causes to consider:
Bad Radio Fuse
When it’s an aftermarket stereo draining battery, it’s most likely a fuse causing the issue. Most aftermarket radios come with faulty fuses that eventually break or wear out, causing surprising battery drains.
Fuses are what the vehicle uses to power up equipment (like the dashboard). They are located in the fuse box and either work as constant fuses (always powered) or switched fuses (only work when the car is on).
A worn-out constant fuse will cause trouble over time, draining the battery when the car is off.
But a constant radio fuse is not always the cause of the problem. This may also happen when the car stereo is not installed correctly, so the fuse seems damaged.
But in reality, you just installed the fuses incorrectly, causing unwanted battery drains.
For example, when you connect the stereo to a constant fuse, you should have installed it to the switch fuse.
Old Model Stereo
Many of its fuses, wires and internal components will eventually wear out when a stereo is old enough. Sure enough, this will cause a battery drain – sooner or later.
You may want to salvage the stereo by replacing the parts that are causing the drain. But most of the time you’ll be better off replacing the whole stereo for a new one.
Badly Connected Stereo
Let’s say you recently installed a new stereo and then you noticed nothing seems to be wrong. It functions almost to perfection.
Yet, your battery drains. And issues regarding energy start to happen after the installation, out of nowhere.
In this case, most likely it is an installation problem. A wiring issue tends to happen out of nowhere, but it was probably a mistake when setting it up.
You will probably find some wires making unwanted contact and thus causing the issue.
If you recently set up a new stereo and it starts draining your battery, EVEN after making sure the installation is perfect, that’s likely an overpowered stereo.
This mainly happens when you’re using potent speakers or subwoofers or if you added some of those recently.
Rugged sound equipment tends to use more energy, so it wouldn’t be a surprise your battery gets drained.
In these cases, you will probably need to replace your battery with a stronger one.
How to Fix Car Stereo Draining Battery?
Now, want to solve your problem once and for all? We have the solution for each kind of trouble you may face. Check it out!
It depends on the problem.
- Bad fuse issues may take a few minutes up to several hours as you’ll need to find where exactly the problem lies
- Old stereo replacements take about 1-3 hours to replace (given you already have a replacement)
- Poorly connected stereos take the same time as fuse issues (likely less as it’s typically easier to find where the problem is)
- An overpowered stereo may take much more time as you’ll need to reconfigure the system (and probably replace the battery/speakers/woofers)
You won’t need anything apart from a screwdriver if you need to take something out.
For bad fuses, you may find multimeters to test the wiring. This gives you an idea of where the problem lies so they can tackle it more easily.
A radio draining battery is typically an installation problem. You can easily fit this by taking everything apart and rewiring. This is especially true when you installed a new stereo recently.
We recommend doing the wiring yourself, following the stereo instructions (if you’re installing a new one).
If you followed the instructions to the letter and the wiring seems okay, you can consider overpowered stereos or speaker/subwoofer systems causing the issue.
Either way, you can fix the problem within minutes or a little more than an hour.
It will cost you nothing, apart from a new stereo if you need to replace an old one.
01. Replace Stereo
Have a radio draining battery when off? If this happens out of nowhere when you haven’t installed any new equipment, that means you’re probably dealing with an old stereo.
In that case, nothing will help you more than replacing it entirely.
Here are some steps and recommendations to follow:
- Turn the stereo off completely
- Disconnect the radio from speakers/woofers
- Detach from the power source and other equipment
- Take the radio out of the dashboard port
- Grab the new stereo and connect it to the speakers/power wires
- Then insert it into the dashboard port
- Secure it as necessary, and that’s it
You should now be able to enjoy your new stereo without any battery drain. If you still present problems going forward, there’s likely something directly related to your battery happening.
02. Remove Fuse and Replace
You’re likely dealing with a wrongly connected fuse. In that case, the obvious way is to check everything first and see what the problem is. Use the multimeter or wire tester for this.
Then you can consider any of the following tips and steps:
- Turn the vehicle off completely (make sure not even the battery is in)
- Locate a bare metal portion on your car and ground the multimeter on it
- Probe the fuses using the multimeter accordingly
What to do afterward?
- If the stereo is connected to a constant fuse (always on), your multimeter should fire up. That means you’ve misconnected it – proceed to change it.
- If none of the fuses make the multimeter light up, you’re probably dealing with switched fuses. Reconnecting them and trying them should fix the issue.
This should fix 90% of most cases with faulty fuse connections. For worn-out or damaged fuses, the best solution would be to replace them.
Aftermarket/Factory Radio Draining Car Battery When Off
Is your car stereo draining battery when off? A replacement is the best solution in that case.
Here are some high-quality radio replacements to consider:
01. Alpine UTE-73BT Digital Media Receiver
We have nothing but great things to say about Alpine. The UTE-73BT is a perfect example of why you should go for quality brands like this – THERE’S NO DRAWBACK.
At first, you can enjoy the compact and space-saving single-DIN design – nothing fancy. BUT, OH BOY! Does it look good! The combination of practical music controls alongside a lighted array of buttons makes it so.
But you aren’t looking for looks, right? Here’s where the Bluetooth capacity, ability to work with any type of file (FLAC, WMA, MP3, etc.), plus its USB port makes it undoubtedly one of the best you can get.
There’s a lot more to enjoy, like the 24-bit DAC and the 3-band EQ. You can configure everything from highs and lows to the bass quality and much more. EVERYTHING FROM THE FRONT PANEL.
And to put the cherry on top, you can enjoy tons of different connectivity advantages, like Pandora compatibility, hands-free calling, and much more.
Need a quality radio that gets the job done without any drawback? This is your best bet.
- Built-in DAC for supreme audio quality
- Easy-to-operate and set up
- Multi-compatible connectivity system
- Plays any type of audio file
02. Pioneer DMH-1500NEX Digital Media Receiver
If we had to choose the most reliable brand for car radios, we wouldn’t hesitate to pick Pioneer. The DMH-1500NEX is the perfect case of why.
What sets this model apart is the NEX technology. Also known as Networked Entertainment eXperience, this array of high-end receivers with tons of fantastic features.
One of these features is superb connectivity. You get the chance to connect to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, SiriusXM, WebLink, Spotify, and Pandora.
There’s no lack of audio sources – especially with the addition of an auxiliary port and a USB extension (58 inches long).
You can enjoy tons of other additions, like the 7-inch display with touchscreen, a superb interface for easy use, and outstanding compatibility with most file types (audio or video).
Did we mention you also get the ability to operate the system without hands? A Siri Eyes Free, Spotify Control, Amazon Alexa, and Android Music Support system let you use it hands-free.
And if we mention you also get a great tuner to get precisely the kind of sound quality you need – it becomes a go-to option in every way.
- Works with all systems and apps
- Gigantic display for high-end video quality
- Ultra-easy to use and operate
- Multiple inputs/outputs for convenience
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of How to Fix Car Stereo Draining Battery
What if the stereo keeps draining my battery?
If you tried solving any of the issues above but the radio draining car battery when off problem keeps happening, we recommend taking your vehicle to a professional.
Most likely, you’re suffering from a battery problem directly and not a stereo issue, something you won’t fix easily without expert help.
Can a car stereo drain your battery when running?
No. There’s no way for this to happen as most stereos start using energy from the alternator when the car is on. Your stereo can’t drain your battery in that case.
Are speakers and subwoofers capable of draining batteries?
Yes, as we mentioned before, it happens when the system is overpowered. When speakers/woofers are using too much juice, they’re likely to drain your battery every time you start the car.
So, did you learn how to fix car stereo draining battery? We hope so!
This isn’t an easy problem to fix, especially if you have little to no experience about car radios or vehicles in general.
But with our tips and steps above, fixing the problem shouldn’t become much of a problem. In the end, it isn’t the end of the world – it’s a totally fixable issue to tackle.
What are you waiting for, then? Get the car radio fixed now!
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