Why Does My Car Radio Turn On by Itself?

This problem is likely caused by the power wires shorting out. If one of the ground wires connects with the ignition wire, the car radio could turn on. There are some easy ways to correct this problem, such as using a wiring harness.

What Should You Do?

You will want to check out the wiring first. You may be able to determine what’s wrong by yourself.

Start by turning off the ignition and removing the car stereo from your dashboard. Disconnect the wiring harness that’s attached to the stereo. Then, check out each little wire connected to the wiring plug.

If any wires are not in use, you can cut them off. Make sure that you cut them, so there are no copper pieces left out. That way, they won’t make contact with other wiring systems in your vehicle. You also should use heat shrink tubing to ensure that all of your wires are covered so there are no more shorts. When wires make contact with one another, this is what could cause the radio to turn on.

What Should You Look For?

You will want to notice when the radio tends to turn on. If it’s right after you hit a bump, loose wiring is to blame, which you can fix with a harness. However, if the radio turns on when you shut the car off, you may have it connected to the wrong switch.

Should You Handle the Wiring Yourself?

If you are comfortable working with cars or electronics, you will have no problems with this project. All you are doing is checking for wiring shorts and what could be causing them. When you finish, you can simply put the stereo back into its proper place.

This project can be intimidating for some people. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, you should take it in. Not handling the problem right away will only make things worse.

How Does It Happen?

The radio’s power source usually links to the ACC of the ignition switch. The power source may not be turned off when you shut off the ignition. 

The more likely cause is that wires are touching and causing shorts, leading to the radio turning. There could be an issue with where the switch is positioned inside of the system as well. There are many different ways that this can happen. The two main causes are loose wires and shorts in the wiring. These wiring issues can be fixed as a DIY project, as long as you are comfortable managing wiring. Make sure that all of your radio wires are connected firmly and are very secure. Sometimes bumps in the road can cause them to loosen.

Overall, your radio should not have a constant source of power. If it does, something is very wrong inside your car. You will want to take care of it right away so that your car battery does not drain due to the radio. 

When Should You Take It In?

Suppose you are having problems with your radio turning on suddenly. In that case, this is a sign of an electrical problem within your car’s systems. You don’t want to wait too long before you fix this, as this problem could cause a dead battery overnight.

You can check the wires on your own and secure them. However, if you don’t want to do this on your own, you may want to take the car to a professional you trust. You don’t want to accidentally allow the battery to die, as this can be a significant inconvenience when you try to rush to work the next day.

Did You Get a New Radio?

Often, people who just installed a new radio will have this issue. If the wiring was not secured or installed properly, it could cause the radio to turn on by itself. This would be the case if you notice the radio booting up when you hit a bump in the road.

That would signify that the wires behind the radio are loose and coming into contact with other wires. You will want to take another look behind the radio to ensure that the installer properly sets everything up. If everything looks alright to you, you may have a faulty radio system. You will want to return it as soon as possible and get a new one to replace it!


A car radio turning on by itself is likely a sign of a wiring issue behind the scenes. You can fix it by reorganizing the wires and checking that they are secure. You don’t want them to continue causing shorts in your car.