Car Stereo Electrical Noise FAQs

Written by jennifer uhl
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Car Stereo Electrical Noise FAQs
Car stereos can experience unwanted electrical noises. (Inside sound system image by Dmitry Sosenushkin from

There can be several different causes of electrical noise in a car stereo. Buzzing, hissing, pops and whines are three of the most common types of noise that can occur. It can be difficult to isolate these problems, so to utilise the process of elimination is crucial. Follow all safety precautions, and do not perform any electrical work while the vehicle's battery is connected.

Why do I hear a whine through my speakers when I press the accelerator?

One of the most common types of car stereo noise comes from grounding issues. Improper grounding can introduce whine from your vehicle's alternator. Skip using existing body bolts or mounting places as they may be isolated or have coatings that can affect the connection. It is best to use solid chassis points and new installation hardware to ground your stereo or amplifier. There are other potential causes for alternator whine relating to grounding problems. These may include a grounding strap from the battery to the chassis as well as a solid mounting point on the engine.

What may cause a pop sound when I turn on an accessory in my car?

Turning on an accessory that draws a lot of current such as your windshield wipers or headlights can cause a surge in voltage in the electrical system. This spike in voltage can be heard through speakers when picked up by your head unit or amplifier. This is more common with cheaper car stereo components but may occasionally plague higher end components as well. The installation of a basic inline noise suppressor can resolve this issue. These are generally available at most retail establishments dealing in car stereo components and accessories.

Why do I hear a constant low buzzing or hiss though my speakers?

Most car electrical components introduce small amounts of noise, especially accessories and power cables requiring high current draw. Running speaker cables and signal cables too close to these cables can pick up on noise that would otherwise not be heard. Purchase high-quality shielded twisted pair cables over traditional coaxial signal cables as a major key in suppressing this noise in your stereo system. It is also important that you ensure that you route your signal and speaker cables at least 18 inches apart from power cables when you install them in your vehicle to suppress noise.

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