Screen Grab: What To Do If Your Car Stereo Display Is Not Working

Your car stereo isn’t a jukebox anymore. Now it’s a multimedia center, your navigation system, and the hub of your in-car communications.

Yep, we’re relying on our car stereos for a lot more than music. Having a fully-fledged infotainment system on the dashboard gives us everything we need at the touch of a button.

But when your stereo is getting you from A to B and helping you place important calls while you drive, are all your eggs in one basket?

And if your car stereo display goes on the blink, will you be lost in the blink of an eye?

There are a few reasons why your car stereo display might die on you. So if you’re asking “why has my car stereo stopped working” we’ve got the answers for you.

And we’ve even got solutions at the ready. Let’s get you back on the road.

5 Reasons Why Your Stereo Display Stops Working

When your stereo display stops working you don’t want to be screening for help. Let’s take a look at the common causes of this display disaster.

1. Brightness Is Turned Down

This is the “have you tried turning it off and on again” of stereo display solutions. It’s simple, obvious, and yet it works 90% of the time.

Most car stereo displays have adjustable brightness, letting you change the level based on local lighting. This helps to prevent glare from obscuring your view of the display.

Sometimes, that brightness gets turned down by mistake. Maybe you hit the wrong button on your steering wheel controls, or your kid in the passenger seat was playing with dials. Either way, when the brightness turns to zero, your screen is effectively off.

If you know your way around your car stereo controls, you can adjust the brightness while driving – being careful to keep your eye on the road while you do so.

2. Wiring Connection Issues

Malfunctioning wiring is a common source of the car display stopping working. Your screen may work intermittently for example, and a flickering display will be a tell-tale sign of a wiring connection issue – the signal for the screen is getting through inconsistently.

You’re not going to fix this while you’re driving. You’ll need to remove the head unit to check the wiring, and that means dismantling your dash.

3. A Blown Fuse

The fuse is the weakest link in any circuit – it’s designed to be, so it can blow and prevent electricity from flowing if something goes wrong. That means a blown fuse is a likely suspect with any electronics issue, including when your car stereo display stops working.

If your car stereo isn’t firing up when you turn on the ignition, a blown fuse is most likely to be the cause of your problem.

4. Display Damage

Unfortunately, sometimes an LCD screen is just defective. Of course, if you’ve shattered or cracked your LCD you’re going to know something’s up, but sometimes a display can break without any visible sign, and unfortunately, you’re going to have to diagnose this by a process of elimination. If the fuses and writing are in good condition, then maybe you’ve got a faulty display.

5. Head Unit Malfunction

The head unit is the main component of the stereo, so if something goes wrong in your head unit you’re guaranteed to have stereo issues and sometimes these wreak havoc on your display.

It could be a loose connection in your head unit or dust could be building up and messing with the circuits. It might be time for a new car stereo if this is the case – and we’ve got you covered.

How To Fix Your Car Stereo Display

If your car stereo is in warranty, then the easiest way to get your stereo display fixed is by taking your vehicle into the shop. A mechanic is going to diagnose and fix the issue a lot faster than you can – unless you’ve just got the brightness turned down.

But if you’re a DIY-diva then you’ll want to get to the bottom of the issue yourself. And if you recently installed a new car stereo yourself, you’ll want to know what went wrong.

1. Fixing Wiring And Replacing Fuses

Replacing fuses and fixing wiring are surprisingly simple jobs, so you could save a trip to the garage if it’s either of these issues. And I’m assuming you’ve tried the brightness, right?

Remove the head unit from the dash and replace the fuse. Your vehicle’s manual will guide you to the car stereo fuse, but it’s usually close to the dashboard’s instrument panel or in the fuse box under the hood.

And thanks to standardized car stereo wiring, it’s pretty easy to identify if a wiring connection is causing you problems. Check for loose connections – if your stereo display is flickering on and off while you manipulate the wires, then chances are the soldering gun will sort you out.

2. Fixing Displays And Head Units

Unfortunately, a defective display or broken head unit is a bigger issue. In these circumstances, the manufacturer’s warranty, which can last up to three years, is going to be your best bet. And if your warranty is void, it’s time to cough up for a new unit.

Wrapping Up…

Car stereo displays can stop working for a few reasons – sometimes it’s an easy fix, but for others, it’s a trip to the shop. Nevertheless, knowing how to troubleshoot and diagnose common issues can save you stressing about an expensive repair bill.

So don’t lose your head over a defective head unit. And don’t blow your fuse over a blown fuse.

And if all else fails, at least you know a trip to the mechanic is the right call. That’ll get you back on the road.

Robert Muñoz

I’m Robert, a US-based auto electrician, auto mechanic, trained engineer and fanatic about all things motor vehicle. After studying engineering in college I returned to my original passion - car mechanics - and I ran a garage for a number of years serving my local community. Through my garage, I got involved in numerous road safety campaigns in my local area until eventually, I decided to share what I've learned with the world. Know more about me... You can follow me on LinkedIn.

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