What are the common ground wire problems of a car stereo?
There are primarily two issues that car stereos face with their ground wires. The ground wire coming out of the stereo is not connected from the other end to any metallic surface, and the ground wire of the stereo is connected in the right place but the connection has lost its strength due to greasing, paint, or corrosion.
Every electric device works best when its underlying circuit has a ground connection. Grounding protects the circuit (and the device) from voltage surges and other electrical anomalies. In this context, car stereos are no different. A car stereo also needs a proper ground connection to operate properly without undergoing any malfunction.
In almost every car stereo, the black wire in the harness at the back of the car stereo is the ground wire of the unit.
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What happens if you don’t ground a car stereo?
Without grounding a car stereo, there is no way you can turn it on. Or put it that way, you can’t use any recent car stereo without grounding it.
There are some old self-contained car radios with antennas that don’t need the ground connection. However, we all know that those car stereos have become virtually obsolete.
In short, when you don’t ground a car stereo, you won’t be able to use it.
How do you know if your car has bad ground?
Various signs indicate that your car stereo or the entire vehicle has bad ground.
- Stereo getting overheated for no apparent reason
- Stereo constantly going into the protection mode
- Stereo starts clipping (producing a continuous distortion sound)
- Stereo continuously turning off and on or not turning on at all
- A slight burning smell lingering inside the vehicle
- Hard starting
- Dimming and flickering lights
- Burned or slipped compressor clutch
- Sporadic failure of car sensors
How do you check the ground on a car stereo?
If you don’t want to come across any of the symptoms of a bad ground mentioned above, you should regularly check the ground on your car stereo.
- Set the multimeter/voltmeter on the resistance (ohms)
- Put one probe of the meter on the battery’s negative terminal and the other probe on the ground terminal of the stereo.
- If the meter shows a reading of fewer than five ohms, you can rest assured that the ground is working fine. For a reading above five ohms, check the ground wire of the stereo for replacement or remount.
Where does the ground wire go in a car stereo?
Most car stereos come with a wiring harness with a screw-type connector. The black ground wire coming from the car stereo is attached to that screw. If there is no harness or that screw connector, you can attach the ground wire to an unpainted bolt or screw on the vehicle’s chassis. See the Big 3 upgrade options for more info.