Common Reasons for Car Speaker Not Working On One Side: Tips on Fixing It

Is your car speaker not working on one side? It is normal for car speakers to wear out or break down after some time. This is especially common with factory-installed or original equipment (OE) speakers. They tend to be of lower quality when compared to custom speakers.

However, if one of the speakers in your car is not working, do not conclude immediately that the speaker has a problem. Your music system is made up of various components, and a single malfunction in the system can make the speaker stop working.

Read on for more tips on how to troubleshoot this problem and learn how to fix it.

How to Know Why Speakers Only Playing On One Side

Assume that your system includes a crossover, an amplifier, a head unit, front speakers, rear speakers, left and right door speakers. If you notice malfunctions, such as the left side speakers not working, it may be ideal to rule out the head unit or amplifier problem before removing the door panel.

Removing the door panel is quite involving, and it is only advisable to do it when necessary. Therefore to determine the problem, we will first look at the other components of the music system and finally finish the diagnosis with the speakers. If the front car speakers are not working or rear speakers, start by checking the other components.

Checking for an Amplifier Problem

Several problems in the am amp can cause a speaker to fail. For example, the amp can go into protection mode when you turn up the volume, or the amplifier’s channel can be bad. If your speakers are connected to one amp, you should first check for any malfunctions in the amp.

How to Test for an Amp Problem

Connect the left speaker wire to the left channel and the right channel to the left speaker. Remember to turn off the stereo as you connect the wires.

Next, turn on the stereo and check if the channels are working as they should. If only one channel is working, switch off the stereo, unplug the wires and switch them such that the right cable is on the left and vice versa.

Turn on the stereo to check if the channels are working. If the same channel is still not working, the amplifier might be the problem since you have excluded the system’s components before and after the amp.

If one side of the system had a problem, you would have detected it on the other side when you switched the cables. Since this was not the case, you can conclude that the amp is malfunctioning. To fix this problem, it may be ideal to have your amp professionally checked for any malfunctions.

Troubleshooting the RCA Cable

The RCA cable connection includes an intermediate component on the stereo, which is in the middle of the amp and the head unit. To test the cables, you should take out the head unit from the dashboard and access the RCA cables.

How to Test the RCA cables

Start by testing the cables between the amplifier and the intermediate component. To do this, unplug the cables from the component’s output and then plug the good cables into the bad side.

For example, if the right channel is working, connect the right RCA cable from the amp to the left side of the crossover, then turn on the stereo. If the good channel, or in this case, the right channel, keeps working, then the RCA cables in the middle of the crossover and amp could be the problem.

In case the left channel stops working, then the RCA cables are working just fine. To verify the problem, turn off the stereo and connect the right RCA cable from the amp to the left RCA output of the crossover.

Turn the system back on. If the cables are good, you should receive output from the right speaker. This verification process is crucial because it will help you determine if there is a problem in both left and right cables and in any other component.

Once you verify where the problem is, turn off the radio and return the RCA cables to their original position. If the cables have a problem, you may have to fix or replace them immediately.

How to Fix RCA Cables

To fix the cables, you need to examine if they are frayed or torn closely. If the cable is frayed, here’s how to fix it.

  • Cut out the frayed part and remove at least a quarter of insulation back from the cut
  • Hold the bare end of the cable against the tab on the back of the RCA input it came from
  • Apply the hot tip of a soldering iron against the tab and wire end until it is hot
  • Touch the end of the solder to the joint until the solder flows into the junction
  • Allow the solder to cool

After fixing the cables, switch on the stereo and continue enjoying your music.

Troubleshooting the Head Unit

If the head unit of your system is turning on, but you cannot get sound from the speakers, do not quickly conclude that the speakers are bad. Just because the unit can switch on doesn’t mean that it is working properly.

To rule out any problems, here are some of the things that you should first check:

  • Check the unit’s volume, pan, and fade settings
  • Ensure that it is not on anti-theft mode, which may require you to key in a code
  • Test the onboard switches
  • Check if there are any loose or unplugged wires
  • Test various audio inputs like the auxiliary output, radio, CD player, and more

If your RCA cables are not the problem, you should consider testing the head unit.

How to Test the Head Unit

Again, unplug both RCA cables from the unit carefully, ensuring that you do not disconnect other wires. Plug the right cable to the left channel of the unit and turn on the system. If you do this and your speaker is working, you can rule out any malfunction with the head unit.

This might indicate a problem in the cables that connect the unit with the amplifier or intermediate component. To determine the actual source of the problem, turn off the stereo, disconnect the right RCA cable, and plug it in the left RCA cable to the right output as described above to determine a problem with the RCA cable. However, if you connect the right speaker on the left channel and it stops working, your head unit may have a problem.

In some rare cases, both the head unit and the RCA cable can be faulty. If the head unit is defective, you should have it checked by a professional or consider replacing it.

Troubleshooting a Crossover Problem

If the left side speakers not working or any other speakers have failed, you should ensure that you set the right crossover and phase on your speaker. To troubleshoot the crossover or the intermediate component’s input interchanges the RCA cables and turn on the system.

If the right channel work but the left stops, the crossover can be the problem. If the left speaker stops working and the right one starts to work, you can rule out any crossover problem.

How to Fix the Crossover

Once you have determined that the crossover is faulty, choose to repair or replace the component. Note that installing a crossover is quite involving and requires some level of expertise. To ensure that your system is safe, consider working with an expert technician.

Check for Continuity

If the left or right car door speakers are not working, you should check for continuity. There is a space that the wires go through between the door and the door frame on the door panels. This space can be a point of weakness.

Though the speaker wiring harnesses are sealed with a hard rubber sheath for protection, the sheath can break over time because of the repeated opening and closing of the doors. Before you take your speaker apart, check to confirm the continuity of the wires when the door is closed and open.

If the rear or front speaker is not working, check the wire under the seats and carpet for any continuity or broken wire problem. A broken wire means a lack of continuity. Reconnect or repair the broken wire to fix the problem quickly. However, if continuity is solid, you may have a short wire, and this can cause the speaker to stop working.

Troubleshooting Car Audio Speakers

If you have ruled out any of the above problems, It may be time to check out the speaker. Note that the method to determine if rear speakers not working in a car or any other speaker is the same. The only difference is the location of the speaker.

To troubleshoot a car speaker problem, switch off the stereo and disconnect the speaker wires. Connect the left speaker output to the right amp output and turn on the radio. Ensure you set the balance in the middle position.

If the speaker does not work, the problem might be between the speaker and the amp. This could be a wiring connection, the speaker wire, or the speaker itself. A passive crossover can also be a problem.

To narrow down the problem, you will have to take out the speaker from its position and run some tests. This might mean taking apart the door channel or simply getting it out of the trunk of your car. After you have removed the speaker, test it on the amplifier.

If the speaker is working, then it means that the wiring is the problem. If it doesn’t, then you are dealing with a bad speaker.

Testing Car Speakers

To rule out bad wiring, get some new speaker wires and connect them to your speaker and amp. If the speakers are working with the new wires, the safest bet is that there is a problem with the old wiring. In this case, get quality speaker wires and replace the old ones. This should fix the problem.

If the wires are not broken, continuity is ground, you have ruled out everything else, and the speaker is still not working, the speaker might be the problem. In this case, you should replace your car speaker.

This may be an excellent time to upgrade your car music system and get some aftermarket speakers that will give you quality music. When buying speakers, ensure that you choose quality speakers that are the right size for your car.

It would be best if you also get tips on how to maintain your car speakers to ensure that they last as long as possible.

Final Thoughts

Car speakers not working on one side are common issues car owners have to deal with every once in a while. Fortunately, you don’t have to be tech-savvy to fix the problem. However, fixing your speaker problem may require a few skills, the right tools, and enough time. It will all be worth it since you will continue enjoying good music while in your car.

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