Were you just listening to your favorite classic rock radio station, singing along to your favorite song, when all the sudden you heard a rattling hiss sound that only got worse as you raised the volume? If so, this is a sign that you may have blown out your speakers.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, it’s not too uncommon for anyone regardless of their taste in music to blow out the speakers in their car. This occurs when the speakers diaphragm which produces sound is physically damaged after being pushed too hard by the owner of the vehicle when they were listening to their favorite music.
Car speakers can also blow out as result of other problems too including electrical problems, fittings that were not properly attached to the speaker or even lose voice coils.
Here’s how you know when you’ve blown out your speakers
One of the easiest ways to know when you blown out your speakers as if you keep turning the volume up only to find out that each time you increase the volume the sound from your favorite song only sounds “tinny” or flat.
When this occurs, this typically means that your speaker is blown and will ultimately have to be replaced because, when you compare the sound from a blown speaker to a speaker that’s fully functioning there’s no denying what happened to the speaker.
Although most people have full speaker blowouts, it’s also possible to have a partial blowout. This occurs when one or more of the sound producing elements in the speaker has blown or failed.
If you’re not familiar with speakers, each speaker typically has up to three elements including:
- Cones – They produce a wide variety of sounds and cover most of the known frequencies which have been associated with the human voice. When a cone blows out it will often sound “rattly” or weak because, the cone is attempting to vibrate but it’s no longer functioning normally.
- Tweeters – These are the part of a speaker which produce a vibrant S sound from the human voice and also the wonderful sound of symbols in your favorite songs. When a tweeter blows out your favorite music will sound muddy or indistinct, almost as if the music you’re listening to is being played from another room.
- Woofers – Most young drivers in your 20’s these days have woofers or subwoofers. Wolters are unmistakable because they produce a booming effect and have been known to vibrate the whole chassis of the vehicle When a woofer blows out, the music from a song will often sound like it’s coming from a cheap smart phone speaker.
About Blown Out Car Speakers
My car stereo has always worked well enough, but the other day I got in and the speakers had stopped working. The stereo still turns on, so I assume it’s a problem with the speakers. It seems weird for all of them to stop working at once, though. What could have caused my car speakers to suddenly stop working?
While car speakers do tend to wear out, and even break, over time, it’s somewhat unlikely that every speaker in your car audio system chose the same day to kick the bucket.
If your speakers aren’t working (e.g., there is no sound coming from them at all), the problem is more likely in the head unit or possibly in the amp. In some cases, an issue with the wiring between the head unit and a single speaker can cause all of them to cut out, as well. In order to narrow down the exact cause of your problem, you’ll have to do a little troubleshooting.
Ruling Out the Head Unit and Amplifier
If your head unit turns on just fine, but you don’t get any sound from the speakers, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the speakers are the problem. However, the fact that the head unit is turning on doesn’t mean it’s working properly. Before you do anything else, you’ll want to:
Verify that the head unit hasn’t entered an anti-theft mode that requires a car radio code.
- Check the volume, fade and pan settings.
- Test different audio inputs (i.e. radio, CD player, auxiliary input, etc.).
- Test any onboard fuses.
- Check for loose or unplugged wires.
If you are unable to locate any issues with the head unit, then you will want to determine whether or not you have an external amplifier. In car audio systems that use external amps (both OEM and aftermarket), the amp is the most common cause of this type of problem, since the audio has to pass through it on the way to the speakers.
In the process of checking out the amp, you will want to:
Verify that the amplifier is actually turning on.
Determine whether or not the amp has gone into “protect mode.”
Inspect for loose or disconnected input or output speaker wires.
Test both inline and onboard fuses.
Although there are many common car amplifier problems that you can identify and fix on your own, you may run into a situation where the amp seems fine even though it has failed. In that case, you may need to simply bypass the amplifier to verify that both the head unit and speakers are working, at which point you can either get by with your head unit’s internal amp or install a new aftermarket amp.
Checking Car Speaker Wiring
When you checked the fade and pan settings on your head unit, you may have discovered that they were set to a speaker or speakers that had failed, and that you were able to get sound by moving to a speaker or speakers that work. In that case, you’re looking at a problem with your car stereo wiring or a faulty speaker or speakers.
Since speaker wires are often routed behind panels and molding, under seats, and beneath carpet, it can be difficult to visibly inspect them. Depending on your situation, it may be easier to check for continuity between one end of each wire (at the head unit or amp) and the other end at each speaker.
If you don’t see continuity, that means the wire is broken somewhere. On the other hand, if you see continuity to ground, then you’re dealing with a shorted wire.
If your speakers are mounted in doors, then a common point of failure is where the speaker wire passes between the door and the door frame. Although door wiring harnesses are typically protected by hard rubber sheathes, the wires can still end up breaking over time due to the repeated stresses endured in opening and closing the doors. With that in mind, you may also want to check for continuity and shorts with the doors both open and closes.
If you find that one speaker is shorted to ground in that manner, that can actually cause all of the speakers to cut out.
What to Do with Blown Speakers
The most obvious thing to do with a blown speaker is to replace it but before you do, it’s advisable that you visit your local shop that specializes in repairing or replacing car audio parts and accessories because the last thing that you want to do is spend hundreds of dollars on new speakers or accessories when you ultimately may need just one small part to get your speaker’s functioning normally again.
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