Why My Car Radio Changes Stations by Itself?
Your car radio may change stations by itself due to wiring and connection issues. Sticky buttons or a malfunctioned steering control can also cause the radio unit to automatically change the preset frequency.
A car radio can develop a list of problems. It may not turn on due to any power or circuitry issue. Its frequency dial can also go bad. Then the distorted radio sound is also common due to speaker problems and poor signal receiver.
All these radio issues are pretty straightforward and thus easy to troubleshoot.
But what if a car radio starts changing stations by itself even when no search mode or auto channel selector is on? It’s spooky, right? And in the beginning, it might get you freaked out.
However, it turns into irritation when it starts happening too often and can’t let you listen to any single radio stream in peace.
Here, we will walk you through some of the possible reasons why your car radio has gone into that “possessed” mode.
Table of Contents
Sticky Radio Buttons
Sticky buttons are one of the most common reasons why a car radio starts changing stations by itself. Radio buttons get “sticky” when they begin to stick in the same position from the inside. In other words, a button remains pressed from the inside despite being tapped again. Radio buttons can get sticky for two reasons.
- A button starts sticking from the insides when it has been used a lot. The wear and tear of extended use make them stick in the same position. When this happens with the frequency button, you might experience the radio’s automatic sliding from one station to the other.
- A spill on the radio’s front panel can also result in sticky buttons. The spill might not cause power or circuitry issues to the radio unit. However, if any fluid slips in between the buttons, it can turn them sticky. Since this trapped fluid is very small in quantity and not visible, people usually don’t succeed in drying it out.
If you know that your radio unit is old and its buttons have been generously used for years, consider replacing them. For sticky buttons due to spills, you should clean and then dry them thoroughly. Remove the buttons and put them in the sunlight for some time. You can also use an air dryer to get rid of their stickiness.
Cars with control buttons on the steering can also face this problem. Bumpy rides and extensive use of steering often disturb its stereo-controlling functions. The simple solution is to disconnect the steering controllers. If you want to keep the convenience of changing the station and adjusting the volume right from the steering, consider replacing its controller.
Lastly, an old radio with a weak and worn-out circuit board can also go into uncontrolled auto mode. If you know that your radio set is well over its given operating life, consider replacing it.
Run a thorough inspection of your radio by taking it out of the dash. Check every wire and connector and ensure nothing is loose and short.
Also, make sure that no bare wiring is near the antenna side of the stereo. Put the stereo back in the dash after inspecting and fixing the connections and running its radio transmission. If the problem persists, you have to look at its buttons.
A radio is an electronic device connected to the car battery to draw power. On the other hand, its antenna catches RF signals distorted by the nearby electric field.
When a radio has a loose power connection or any other wire is not securely mounted in its place, it might cause this eerie phenomenon of automatic frequency shift.
Based on my research, changing stations by itself is a common issue experienced by many car owners, regardless of the type of radio or car model.
For Mazda CX-5 radios, some Mazda owners suggest that the issue may be caused by a weak or failing antenna or a loose wiring connection. One forum user on mazdas247.com suggests checking the antenna connection at the base of the roof antenna, as well as the wiring connection to the radio unit.
Another forum user on cx5-forum.com suggests that the issue may be caused by interference from other electronic devices, and recommends trying to change the position of the radio unit or removing any nearby devices to see if this resolves the issue.
One forum user on gm-trucks.com suggests checking the connections behind the radio unit, while another forum user on silveradosierra.com recommends updating the radio’s software or firmware to address any potential bugs or issues.
For Sirius XM radios, some users suggest that the issue may be caused by a weak or inconsistent signal, outdated software or firmware, or a faulty electrical connection. One forum user on siriusxm.com suggests ensuring that the XM antenna is properly connected and that there are no obstructions blocking the antenna.
Another forum user on gm-volt.com recommends resetting the radio by disconnecting the car’s battery for a few minutes to allow the radio to reboot and reset any potential issues.
**It’s important to note that these suggestions are not guaranteed to fix the issue, and in some cases, the radio unit may need to be repaired or replaced to fully address the issue.